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Business and History - Black Clawson Kennedy Ltd.

Black Clawson Kennedy Ltd.

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 founder of the enterprise known today as Black Clawson-Kennedy Ltd. of Owen Sound, Ont., was William Kennedy, a millwright's apprentice of Glasgow, Scotland, who sailed for Canada in 1831 and settled in the Smiths Falls area of what was then Upper Canada.

In 1856 he arrived in the village of Sydenham, now Owen Sound, to install machinery in the Harrison woollen and grist mill. When he completed the installation he remained in the village and established, in 1857, his own planing and matching mill.

In 1863 Kennedy was able to build a two storey - and, for the time and place, quite pretentious - building, one floor of which was used for the manufacture of sash and door units and the other for a machine shop. Owen Sound had in these years become one of the busiest of Great Lakes ports, and Kennedy, with his Clydeside background and training, was quick to realize the opportunities offered for the manufacture of equipment for fishing, passenger, freight and pleasure boats. Additionally, he made machinery for saw, grist and flour mills, and in later years for cement mills, as well as waterwheel hydraulic turbines to power the machinery.

Kennedy's Foundry in the early 20th century William Kennedy died in 1885 and was succeeded as President by his son Matthew, who put a steel foundry into operation in 1899. By 1911, William Kennedy & Sons Ltd. employed 150 persons, and manufactured turbines, mill gearings, steel castings and solid and sectional propellers.

In 1916 the company took over the Owen Sound Iron Works and in 1919, the Canadian Malleable Iron Works, which it operated until 1927. The twenties were years of expansion, and the thirties of great hardship, for the company as for the nation, but with the second World War, Kennedy's shared in the upsurge of prosperity. Its foundry supplied the propellers for all ships built in Canada during the wartime shipbuilding program - fighting craft as well as Canadian and allied merchant vessels. The manufacture of propellers for the Canadian merchant marine, and for those of France, China, Brazil and other countries, has continued to this day.

Black-Clawson Kennedy in the 60s The company was purchased in 1951 by Had-Mil (Canada) Ltd., one of the Millspaugh group of Sheffield, England. Just over ten years later, in October 1961, Millspaugh sold William Kennedy & Sons, Ltd. to the Black-Clawson Company of Hamilton, Ohio. As Black Clawson-Kennedy, the company became the eighth member of Black Clawson's world-wide family of manufacturing firms. Its products today embrace steel, iron, bronze and stainless steel castings, and mining, hydraulic, industrial and pulp and paper machinery.