Gartshore-Thomson Pipe and Foundry Company, Limited

Location: the block surrounded by Stuart, Barton, Hess, and Caroline Streets

A Dundas AdvertisementJohn Gartshore was born in 1810 in New Monkland, Scotland where he learned the skills required to be a millwright. He came to Canada in 1833 and built an oat meal mill in Fergus, Ontario two years later. The mill burnt down in 1837, at which point he moved to Dundas and established John Gartshore & Company with the financial help of James Bell Ewart. A foundry was constructed and John Gartshore's new business began. Unfortunately for John, his second venture went up in flames in 1846 while he was in New York on a business trip. It was soon rebuilt with James' backing however, and the new building remained standing even after the end of John Gartshore & Company. In 1847 the company started making steam engines and over the next 20 years added: a brass foundry, a boiler shop, a moulding shop, a blacksmith shop, a machine shop, and a pattern shop.

In 1859 John Gartshore & Company built the engines and water pump for the first Hamilton Water Works. Additionally, those were the first compound engines built in North America. In 1865 John's son, Alexander, became a partner in the company. Also that year, the company built two 300 horse power engines for the Great Western Railway's car ferry: The Great Western. The following year, John retired and Alexander took full charge of his father's company. This only lasted for a short while, as the firm went into receivership a few months later due to financial difficulties.

Alexander GartshoreJason ThomsonIn 1870 John moved to Toronto and organized the Toronto Car Wheel Works which he managed until his death in 1873. Alexander remained in Dundas and established the Canada Iron Foundry and Pipe Works in 1870 with Thomas Cowie. This company was the first to manufacture pipes in Canada. Seven years later Gartshore bought out the firm, which was renamed the Canada Pipe Foundry upon Cowie's retirement in 1879. The company continued under Gartshore's guidance until 1896, at which time it was incorporated as the Gartshore-Thomson Pipe and Foundry Company, Limited (G-T). While Gartshore retained the position of president, James Thomson became the company's vice-president and general manager.

Being the first Canadian company to manufacture pipes, G-T was also the largest. Up until the early 1900's practically every municipality, gas company, and water supply company had used G-T for their supplies of pipe, which the company manufactured in sizes ranging from 3 inches to 60 inches in diameter. In addition to piping, G-T made oil stills, cylinders, propeller wheels, and all kinds of general iron castings. Some of their largest contracts around the turn of the century included Winnipeg (8,000 tons) and Hamilton (4,000 tons).

An Advertisement From 1909Originally employing 15, the company expanded to over 175 workers in the 1930's. Furthermore, the company used over 50 tons of iron every day. The plant itself consisted of several shops covering approximately two acres. The pipe shop included: two casting pits, core ovens, mold ovens, and cleaning, coating, and testing sheds. There was also a pattern shop, a machine shop, and a jobbing shop (which was built in 1907 to serve the growing demand for general foundry castings). Due to its own railway switch connecting it to main lines such as the Grand Trunk Railway and Canadian Pacific, G-T could easily ship its products to anywhere in the country.

G-T pioneered the process of making cast iron pipe vertically (using sand molds and sand cores) in Canada. Similarly, in the 1920's they became the only Canadian plant to make pipes using a centrifugal method. Known as sand spun or mono cast, molten iron was poured into a sand lined mold which would then be rotated at high speeds. Besides eliminating the need for a central sand core, this method also produced pipes of greater durability and with even wall thicknesses. In 1928 G-T improved their plant, adding equipment to enable continuous operation.

Business continued at G-T until 1953 at which point it was closed.

In 1992 the G-T office building was relocated at Pier 4 Park and two years later was designated as being historically and architecturally significant by the City of Hamilton.

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