Oshawa’s Lost Factories

RS Williams Piano Works

(c) Thomas Bouckley Collection

Once known as the Manchester of Canada, Oshawa’s manufacturing sector shaped the city’s landscape. Here are some of the city’s lost factories:

Couthard, Scott Company Limited Located on the south side of King Street West, just east of Nassau Street, this large plant began life manufacturing agricultural tools, but in 1908 was purchased by the Matthew Guy Company Limited to build hearses and carriages.  The factory later housed Ontario Pottery and a Brewer’s Warehouse, but was torn down in 1974.

Schofield Woollen Mills Built in 1872, this factory produced beaver hats, then farming implements, then back to woollen goods, finally becoming home to Smith Transport.  Once located at the end of Centre Street near Mill Street, the site is now a parking lot and apartment building.

Ontario Malleable Iron Company  Founded by the Cowan brothers in 1872, the Ontario Malleable Iron Company was located on Front Street, and was known for being the largest molding shop in Canada. Rebuilt after a massive fire in 1894, the company was again full operational by 1898 and saw great success, employing more men than General Motors Canada. After several owners and labour disputes, OMIC closed its doors for good in 1977, with 244 jobs lost.  Knob Hill Farms took over until 2000, when slumping sales forced the grocery store to close. Now a heritage site, the building remains empty.

R.S. Williams Piano Works The imposing manufacturing plant that became the R.S. Williams Piano Works was built in 1852 as the Oshawa Manufacturing Company, and was occupied by several different owners until the piano factory opened in 1889. Known for huge pipe organs, in its prime the factory employed 250 local men, was the largest of its kind in Canada, and finished products shipped domestically and internationally. Pushed out by the advent of the radio, the piano factory closed in 1931, but the structure was occupied until 1970, when it was demolished.  Once located at Centre Street and Richmond Street, the Durham Region Police Headquarters is one of the buildings that occupies the site.

For more photos and information online about Oshawa’s history, check out the Oshawa Museum Blog, the Thomas Bouckley Collection at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, and Our Ontario

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