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Business and History - J. Ford & Co. Limited

J. Ford & 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.

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The first paper mill in Portneuf, Quebec, was built in 1839-40 by Angus Macdonald, Alexander and John Logan and William Miller, who had come from the old country via Philadelphia. They arrived in the area in 1833 and rented a mill at Jacques-Cartier, afterwards moving to Portneuf where they constructed their own mill in 1839, on the site of the present J. Ford & Co. Limited No. 2 Mill.

In 1839 William Miller left the group. Macdonald and John Logan became partners and completed the mill, installing there, in 1843, the first Fourdrinier paper machine in Canada.

About this time, Angus Macdonald's stepfather, John Smith, established himself, his wife and their daughter Isabella, in a stone house overlooking the valley in which the mill was situated. This house still exists. The stage was now set for the entry of the first Joseph Ford.

The son of a family connected with paper making in Glossop, Derbyshire, Joseph Ford left home in 1850, aged 18, after a family disagreement, and stowed away on a ship bound for Quebec. Discovered in the hold, he had to work to defray his passage. Arriving in Quebec with three shillings sixpence in his Pocket, he found his way to the offices of Macdonald and Logan, papermakers, and was directed to the mill at Portneuf. There he fell gravely ill of ship's fever shortly after beginning his new job. He was nursed back to health by Isabella Smith, daughter of Angus Macdonald's step-father, and married her after his recovery.

In 1857 Macdonald and Logan failed, but Angus Macdonald remained to manage the mill for the new owners. Joseph Ford sustained him self and his young family by rafting lumber on the St. Lawrence, but by 1868-69 he was able to join Alexander Logan in building a new mill on the Portneuf River, on the site of the present No. 1 Mill of J. Ford & Co. Limited. Ford and Logan were also able to rent what had been the Macdonald and Logan Mill before its failure in 1857.

Ford and Logan faced failure too, in 1872. Canada Paper Company took over the business, but retained the former partners to operate the mills. In 1883 Joseph Ford and his son-in-law, Mr. Dalziel, got back the Ford and Logan Mill from Canada Paper Company, but after 18 months new financial difficulties arose, from which Ford eventually emerged as owner, taking into partner­ ship in 1886 his two sons, Joseph Jr. and Thomas, and founding the firm of Joseph Ford & Co.

By 1900 the Ford family owned the five mills in the neighborhood of Portneuf. Joseph Ford and Co., as such, owned three of them, turning out woodpulp and groundwood at a mill at Glenford on the St. Anne River, and making newspaper, wrapping and hanging papers in the two mills. In 1883 Joseph Ford with his son-in-law Jr. and Thomas, and his brother Peter, were partners in a firm which owned two other mills, producing strawboard, woodboard, roofing and carpet paper. A fifth mill, producing roofing felt and sheet and wrapping paper, was owned by Rolland Ford.

In 1912, Joseph Ford Jr. and his brother Thomas bought out their father's interest in Joseph Ford & Co. The brothers continued in partnership until the early nineteen thirties. A third Joseph Ford, son of Joseph Jr., was active in the business until his untimely death in 1931.

The present J. Ford & Co. Limited was incorporated in 1930 under Dominion Charter. After the death of Joseph and Thomas Ford, the third generation, (Thomas B. Ford Jr., J. Grant Macdonald, and Graham Ford) expanded and diversified the company, a process which the fourth generation in consolidating today. Active in the fourth generation management of J. Ford & Limited are Thomas and Martin Farnsworth (grandsons of Thomas Ford), Donald I. Macdonald (son of J. Grant Macdonald, who retired as president in 1965, and grandson of Thomas Ford), L. C. Ford (son of Thomas B. Ford Jr., who was president from 1935-1963). and Joseph B. Ford, son of Thomas B. Ford Jr. The President today is Joseph B. Ford.