Wednesday, 19 September 2012


A good political education might be obtained by an investigation and study of the industries in Hamilton, and indeed in all Canada, that have been made possible because of the protective policy that was incorporated into the laws of the Dominion by that wise statesman and patriot, Sir John A. Macdonald. One of the object lessons is the cotton industry in Hamilton, which gives employment to some 1,300 operatives besides the well-paid office force necessary to manage the details of the business. There are three large cotton mills and two knitting factories which send their product to nearly all parts of the civilized world. The Ontario mill, on James street north, covers a whole block, and gives employment to the largest number of hands. This mill manufactures tickings, sheetings and denims, and its principal market is in Australia and New Zealand. The Hamilton Cotton Company is a close second in number of operatives employed, and its product is cottoandes, denims, yards and webbing, all of which finds a market within the Dominion. The Imperial mill, for the manufacture of duck and twines, which is in the east end of the city, and has only been in operation about one year, gives employment to as many operatives as either of the other mills. What an army of men, women and boys are dependent upon the success and prosperity of these three cotton mills? The Ontario mill is owned by the Canada Cotton Mills company, while the other two are independent and under control of local capital and management. The three mills are run at their full capacity at all times, and occasionally have to do overtime to fill their orders. The aggregate capacity of the three mills is 83 carding machines, 699 looms and 27, 746 spindles. Over 900 operatives are employed, the average wages running from $8 to $10 for men, and $5.50 to $6 for women. A number of boys are employed at $2.50 per week, while many of the experts in the mills have salaries ranging from $20 to $25. The wages paid in the mills in Hamilton compare favourably with what are paid in the best mills in the United States, and far better than the same class of operatives receive in the cotton mills in England and other European countries. During the past year, the three mills used 12,563 bales of cotton, and the value of output of manufactured goods was $1,285,000. The raw cotton comes from the southern states, and is admitted free of duty, and the mill owners have such favourable shipping rates from the south that, in point of cost on freight, they are about on an equality with the New England cotton mills. While the duty on cotton goods ranges from 25 to 35 per cent, yet the keen competition among the Canadian manufacturers tends to keep prices down. Take off the duty and every cotton mill in Canada would be closed down so quick as one would say scat! That the industry is a blessing to Hamilton will be heartily endorsed by the 600 and more operatives who are secured steady employment and at a scale of wages equal to any other branch of labour where the same talent is required.


But Hamilton only gets its share of the prosperity that comes from the cotton industry. In the Dominion there are thirty mills, some larger and many smaller than any of the three in this city. Fifteen of the mills are located in Ontario, and give employment to 2,500 operatives; eight are located in the province of Quebec, and seven more in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Outside of Ontario, not less than 10,000 operatives are employed in the mills.


An American company engaged in the knit goods business opened a branch in this city last May for the manufacture of fine cotton lisle and worsted hosery. As a starter, it employs fifty operatives whose wages range from lisle to $2 per week. The girls and women are unskilled at the work now, but when they become expert they will be able to earn more money. Thirty-seven knitting machines, 19 ribbers, and 12 loppers are now being operated and the product is 250 dozen of hosery and the company has been very fortunate in finding a good market for its output, the goods being attractive in appearance and well-made. This is another industry that protection has forced into Hamilton, and it is able to compete with the German and English hosiery that now controls the Canadian market.


        There are 70 cotton and woolen knitting factories in the Dominion of Canada, and all seem to be prospering. They give employment to a large army of women at fair wages. In this city, the Eagle Knitting company employs 300 operatives, and has in service 150 knitting and 125 sewing machines. It manufactures children’s flat, fleeced and ribbed underwear, and the demand for its product requires the hands to add to their wages by working overtime during the busy seasons of the year.


        All the good things of this life are coming Hamilton way. It is less than three months ago that a bylaw was defeated that was to give a bonus to secure the location of the Deering Harvester works in this city. It was a close call for an industry that now promises to be one of the largest in the city. The council acted wisely in the matter, and while it could not vote a money bonus, it had the power to give certain privileges that will fully equal the amount asked for in the bonus bylaw. The Deering company bought a tract of 35 acres of land, and is now erecting workshops that will cost $95,000. And this is not all. This week the International Harvester company with a capital of $120,000,000, of which $95,000,000 is in cash, for a working capital, has been incorporated. The five leading corporations in the United States engaged in the manufacture of agricultural implements and farm machinery of every description, have united their interest, and the Deering company, being one of the five, will make Hamilton its headquarters for the manufacture of all classes of farm machinery. Instead of 300 or 400 hands, which the Deering company expected to employ in this city, the demand for skilled labour may run up much higher in the hundreds, and probably, in the thousands. The Deerings are already planning to enlarge their shops at once, so as to have plenty of room for the new lines of implements that will be manufactured here. The establishment of the headquarters of the International Harvester company is another triumph for the protective policy. Could the Deerings and McCormacks, and all the other agricultural implement companies, have sold their goods without having to pay duty at the border, not one of those large corporations would think for a moment of building a manufactory in this country. The market would be theirs without extra cost.


        The Otis Elevator company, one of the leading concerns in that line in the United States, saw the possibilities of a large business in Canada. The Dominion government had wisely provided that the men in Canada, who could build elevators, should at least have a fair chance for the trade. The Otis company had plenty of capital, and wanted to branch out into new territory, so the directors decided to buy out the Leitch and Turnbull company and locate in Hamilton, because of its great facilities for shipments and in electric power. The company is now building a large factory in this city, and fitting it up with the most approved machinery.


        The Norton Manufacturing company, with Col. W. C. Breckenridge as its local manager, is planning greater things to meet the demands of its Canadian customers. The company is now negotiating for the purchase of the plant at the foot of Emerald street, that was built for the National Cycle and Automobile company. Col. Breckenbridge needs more room for the annual increase in trade, and possibly some new lines in the manufacture of tin ware may be added when the factory is moved into its new quarters.


        The Hamilton Steel and Iron company keeps on adding to its large plant with increasing demand for steel and iron in Canada. This week the company has paid a six per cent dividend on its capital stock, added a good slice of the profits of the past year to its surplus account and decided to spend $200,000 at once in new and improved machinery.


        But the best of the wine is left for the last of the feast of a few of the great manufacturing industries of Hamilton. Some wealthy American capitalists are now looking over the field with a view of building a large tin plate factory in Hamilton. All the tin now used in Canada comes from England or the United States. Each year the demand for tin plate is increasing, and these Americans with money to spare see no good reason why a tin plate factory in Hamilton would not pay a profitable interest on the investment. There are some things to be considered, and if the difficulties that now present themselves can be overcome a tin plate factory in Hamilton will be one of the great industries in the near future. The enlargement of the facilities of the Hamilton Steel and Iron company is an indication that one great difficulty – an abundant supply of steel billets – is in a fair way of being removed. The other points may be as easily settled. The gentleman the Hamilton end of the enterprise feels hopeful of speedy results.

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