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Business and History - John Inglis Co. Limited

John Inglis 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 original building in GuelphOn July 27, 1859, Thomas Mair and John Inglis, machinists of Dundas, Ont., leased a foundry and water rights in Guelph, where they continued in business until 1881. It is believed that this original operation was powered by water. In 1864, however, a steam engine and boiler were installed. The early products consisted of machinery for grist and flour mills; boilers and steam engines were added later. Some time after 1864 Daniel Hunter replaced Thomas Mair and the name of the business was changed to Inglis and Hunter. In September 1881, Inglis purchased part of the present site on Strachan Avenue, Toronto, and moved the operation from Guelph to the new site. About this time the business was identified as John Inglis and Sons, there being five sons employed in various departments. In 1898 William Inglis took over on his father's death.

Aerial view fo the Strachan Avenue plantThe company was incorporated as The John Inglis Company Limited in 1903. At that time the manufacture of milling machinery was discontinued and marine steam engines and waterworks pumping engines were added to the line. During this period the company built the main engines for the Canada Steamship Lines passenger steamers "Hamonic" and "Huronic". These were among the first such engines made in Canada and continued in service until 1945 and 1950 respectively.

The John Inglis Company Limited was reincorporated in 1913. During the first World War the plant turned out thousands of shells and shell forgings, and more than 40 reciprocating steam marine engines for freighters, ordered by the government. Among products manufactured in the 1920's were Bren gunsboilers, grain elevating and conveying machinery, hydraulic turbines, tugs, and reciprocating and centrifugal pumps.

The company suffered severe losses during the depression of the 1930's, and with the death of William Inglis in 1.935, it went into receivership. Two years later the property was bought by British Canadian Engineering Limited, which obtained the right to use the name John Inglis Co. Limited.

In 1938 the company secured contracts for the manufacture of Bren guns with both the Canadian and British governments, and with the outbreak of war in September 1939, its gun making operations were greatly expanded. Simultaneously its heavy manufacturing facilities were expanded until approximately 1 million feet of floor space on 23 acres were in use. At one time the plants housed more than 5,000 machine tools and employed 17,800 people. The company placed its General Engineering Photo of a 1967 model dishwasherDivision at the disposal of the government and turned out, among many other projects, the total machinery for four Tribal Class destroyers. Early in 1945 the company acquired a controlling interest in English Electric Company of Canada, Limited, St. Catharines, Ont., which in 1947 became a wholly-owned subsidiary. Early in 1966 the shares of English Electric Company of Canada, Limited were sold to The English Electric Company Limited of England. At the present time about 56% of the shares of John Inglis Co. Limited are owned by The English Electric Company Limited of England.

In 1951 a plant was completed under Canadian government ownership in Scarborough, Ont., in which Inglis produced Y-100 naval turbines for Canadian naval ships. This plant was purchased by English Electric U.K. in 1955 and leased to Inglis, which in 1961 erected an addition to house its English Electric, Canada Division, the St. Catharines operation having been shut down. In 1962 Inglis purchased the Scarborough plant from the English Electric Company U.K. Three years later, in a move to divest itself of the manufacture of heavy plant and equipment, Inglis sold the Scarborough plant to Canadian General Electric and moved into the consumer products field exclusively. It is now the leading producer of domestic automatic washers and dryers, laundry appliances in Canada.