Western Libraries

Business and History - Houdaille Industries

Houdaille Industries

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.

Sylvester Skinner and William McCullough of Brockville, Ont., formed a partnership in 1834 to manufacture farm implements such as scythes, snaths and grain cradles, for all of which - in the days before mechanical reapers appeared - there was a steady demand.

Sylvester Skinner bought out his partner in 1857 and moved the business to Gananoque, where a much larger plant was built. About this time he brought two sons into partnership. One of them, Sylvester Case Skinner, became sole owner after the death of his father and brother, and in 1898 incorporated the firm under an Ontario charter.

By 1910 the great days of farm implements of the Skinner type were over, but a new industry was looming as potentially greater than any in existence. This was the automotive industry, and with laudable foresight, the Skinner Company abandoned the manufacture of farm implements and launched into production of round bar bumpers for Ford cars. Within four years the outbreak of war cut back civilian production and the company's output was channelled into bits, stirrups and spurs for the Canadian Cavalry Division.

In 1920 the company returned to the manufacture of spring bar bumpers and in 1924 became patent licensee and commercial representative of the C. G. Spring and Bumper Company of Detroit, Michigan. Through this association the Skinner Company expanded rapidly, becoming the largest producer of automotive bumpers in Canada.

Fred V. Skinner, Sylvester's son, sold his company in 1929 to the Houdaille-Hershey Corporation, and shortly thereafter the Oshawa plant was established. In 1955 the company name was shortened to Houdaille Industries.

Aerial photo of Houdaille plant in Oshawa Houdaille in Oshawa is one of a group of some sixty businesses in the United States and Canada which, under the collective name of Houdaille Industries Incorporated, produce auto parts, industrial tools and machinery and construction materials. The Houdaille Corporation dates back to 1919 when a U.S. company was formed to manufacture a shock absorber invented by Maurice Houdaille, a French engineer.

The Canadian company makes and electroplates about 60 per cent of the original equipment automotive bumpers used in Canada. It also produces heavy metal stampings other than bumpers and currently serves the automotive, plumbing, construction and recreation industries.