Knechtel Furniture 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.
Daniel Knechtel was 21 when, in December, 1864, he trekked northward from his boyhood home in Waterloo to the tiny settlement of Hanover in a newly-developed area of Western Ontario later to be known as "The Queen's Bush." He carried his capital on his back - a pack of tools with which he started making simple household furniture and other utilitarian wood products, adapted, to the settlers' needs and probably stronger in construction than they were beautiful in design and finish.
At first it was a one-man operation but within a few years a small steam factory was purchased and a dozen men employed. In 1874 a new frame factory was built, and the payroll grew to include some thirty names. About that time too, Daniel's younger brother Peter went into partnership with him and for several years they also conducted a retail store in conjunction with the factory. An advertisement in the Hanover Post of March 22, 1882, advised that this store, under the grandiose title of the "Great Eastern Emporium", offered for sale, not only furniture, but also groceries, clothing and hardware. The ad closes on this sombre note: "Undertaking in all its departments attended to. A good hearse for hire at reasonable rates."
In 1884 the first brick factory was erected and from that date extensions and improvements were made as finances permitted. In the meantime Peter Knechtel withdrew from the partnership to devote his efforts to sawmilling. A disastrous fire, originating in the boiler room, raged out of control and completely destroyed the large Hanover factory on December 20, 1900. It was decided to rebuild at once, and exactly one year later a large new plant, built on the site of the old, was opened. Further additions were made as the company progressed.
From the beginning the Knechtel family has been actively engaged in the company's management. When founder Daniel Knechtel died in 1936, aged 93, his son Jacob assumed the presidency. "J.S,", as he was familiarly known, had headed the management for many years and was largely responsible for the rapid advancement- of the business.
When "J.S." passed away in 1938 he was succeeded as president by his son Karl who continues to be active in the company's affairs. The fourth generation of Knechtels is represented by Karl's son Paul, a sales representative who also holds the office of secretary of the company.
With its three large plants, a sawmill, and bush lots which provide a partial source of native woods, Knechtel Furniture Limited today employs 325 people, at least 60 of whom have been with the company for 25 years or more.