Western Libraries

Business and History - Beardmore & Co., Limited

Beardmore & Co., Limited

This page was reproduced with permission from the Canadian Manufactures Association. The Canadian Manufacturers Association, renamed Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, holds the Copyright for the text and images.

This information came from Industry '67 Centennial Perspective, published by The Canadian Manufacturers' Association in May 1967. The original document is accessible through Western Libraries Shared Catalogue.

The name of Beardmore has been known in the leather and shoe industry for more than 120 years, almost since George L. Beardmore arrived in Canada from Devon, England. He brought with him capital to invest, part of a fortune left by a relative, Archdeacon Owen, one-time Chaplain General of the British forces in India, and spent his first few years in Canada learning the tanning business in a plant in Toronto.

Letter from Bank of BNA stating that Beardmore is the bank's oldest accountIn 1844 George Beardmore acquired a one-storey stone structure in Hamilton, Ontario, and began the first of the Beardmore tanneries. His was the oldest account on the books of the Bank of British North America, now merged with the Bank of Montreal.

A few years after the acquisition of the Hamilton tannery it was destroyed by fire. Mr. Beardmore then opened a warehouse in Toronto and, in order to continue to supply leather to his customers, purchased a tannery on the Grand River near Guelph.

In 1865 he bought a tannery at Acton, Ontario, on the site of the present plant. This, too, was destroyed by fire in 1872, but was re-built the same year on the same foundations. By 1875 the company was turning out between 18,000 to 20,000 sides of sole leather per year and using 2,000 cords of bark in the tanning process.

George L. Beardmore died in 1893, bequeathing a successful basic industry to his successors.

Beardmore headquartersIn 1925 another serious fire caused damage estimated at $100,000. Several buildings were damaged but were soon re-built. Today at over 122 years of age, Beardmore & Co. are the largest tanners of leather in Canada. Their buildings and properties cover an area of over 500 acres and their employees number about six hundred.

To guard against the fires of earlier years, the plant is now sprinkler-equipped throughout. Modern refrigeration is used in storing the hides and the plant is maintained with steadily improved methods.