The American parent company: Henry Warren in the United States invented the self-starting synchronous motor in 1916 (patented 1918). His Warren Clock Company in Ashland, Massachusetts, initially produced battery-driven clocks. It was renamed the Warren Telechron Company in 1926 and began to make synchronous electric clocks. The separate General Electric company was a silent partner from the beginning, but the General Electric name began to appear on dials only around 1931.
GE took controlling interest in 1943, and the clock company was known as Telechron from 1946 to 1951. Production of electric clocks declined by the 1960s because of the introduction of cordless battery clocks.
(from the bookELECTRIFYING TIME: Telechron & G.E. Clocks, 1925-1955, Jim Linz, Schiffer Publishing Ltd, 2001)
The Toronto Factories: My check of old Toronto business directories indicated that Canadian General Electric was in operation from about 1930 to 1959. Its first factory was located at 212-216 King Street West in the early 1930s. Later locations included 221 Dufferin, 830/940/1025 Lansdowne, and 224-228 Wallace. I don’t know in which of these factories the clocks were made. The kitchen clocks had just the letter-number codes on the labels. The advertisements and boxes also included the model name.
Many models of electric alarm and table clocks were also produced in Toronto for the Canadian market. The museum has several examples of these in its collection of Canadian General Electric clocks.
The pictures here show the wall models currently (April 2017) in the museum's Canadian General Electric collection. Plastic was king in the 1950s and most models in the catalogues had several options for the bright colours, including RED. Some models were bicolour. The production dates are Amercian from the above book, but the Canadian dates will be similar.
Even after sixty years some of these old clocks are still running! The quality of the self-starting electric motors was very high. The red colour seen in the HOLE in the dial below the 12 for some models was a power failure indicator that let you know that the power had been off and the dial time was incorrect.
Finally, we have lots of new pictures showing the many sections of our unique museum that has started its 18th year in Spring 2017 promoting two centuries of Canadian-made and Canadian label clocks. Included are the entrance stairs walls and most areas of the Exhibit Room. Enjoy.
Questions and comments are welcomed.
Click on any thumbnail picture to show all of them.
The CANADA CLOCK COMPANY: By early 2017 our museum has added many new examples to its collection of mantel and wall clocks that were 100% Canadian-made in the company factory in Hamilton, Ontario between 1880 and 1884. Many were acquired from the Jim Connell collection. Others were purchased from online auctions and sellers.
We are still looking for good examples of these known models for our collection: CROWN JEWEL, MANITOBA, TILLEY, CITY OF HALIFAX, NIAGARA, WINNIPEG (spooled top version), VICTORIA (the version with small drawer), and CITY OF PARIS (the larger version).
This short-lived company was located in Montreal from ca. 1936 to 1940, based on old business directories listings. To date (mid 2016), the only product known is spring-driven pendulum mantel clocks. Some were apparently imported from Germany before WWII. Others have Made-in-Canada wood cases with imported movements.
This early manufacturer of electric clocks was in business in Toronto from 1931 to 1936.
The clocks used Laurens Hammond's slow-speed, manual-start motors - a knob on the back of the clock had to be spun to start the clock, and power interruptions stopped the clock until it was restarted by hand. The original cords had cloth covers typical of the 1930s.
The mantel models had either molded bakelite plastic cases (dark brown or black) or wood cases. Our wall clock example has a painted metal case.
Some models were available with an alarm function, e.g. the HAMMOND JUNIOR. The GREGORY had a calendar that shows the day of the week and the month date. Note that most Hammond clocks did not have the model name on them. Model names are known from company catalogues and advertising.
CUSTOM-MADE REPRODUCTION PEQUEGNAT CLOCKS: NOTE: This gallery is not about The Arthur Pequegnat Clock Company that was in business a long time ago in Berlin / Kitchener, Ontario 1904-1941. The Pequegnat Clock Company of Canada was set up by one of Arthur’s great grandsons, Paul Pequegnat, in 1984 in Manotick, Ontario (southeast of Ottawa). He made faithful reproductions of eight original Pequegnat wall models and twelve mantel models, and he created a special wall model. The choices were shown on his Price List.
Posted in The Pequegnat Room at the museum is a brief biography of Paul’s interesting careers written by his widow Anne. He started as a newspaper reporter in Kitchener, became an accredited film photographer with the CBC, and was the chief cameraman at CBC Ottawa television. He then went freelance with his own company called Paul Pequegnat Productions. For years he travelled all over the world, including the Arctic, Russia and Viet Nam, producing films for the CBC, BBC, ABC and CBS television networks. Finally, after a long career, he “retired” in 1984 to make copies of his great grandfather’s clocks!
CUSTOMER OPTIONS: Paul’s customers would first select the clock style from the display models in his home and then choose the wood for the case. The options were oak, mahogany, and walnut, the latter at higher cost. And he provided three options for the wood finish: Colonial, Heritage, and Mission (the Price List described them), hand-rubbed to low, medium or high lustre. The case would then be custom-built by Paul and a German spring-driven Hermle pendulum movement was installed to complete the clock within six to eight weeks after a twenty percent deposit was placed with the order.
Paul made his own cases and used German movements. Note the contrast with the original Pequegnat clocks, where Arthur’s factory made the movements that were then installed in wood cases manufactured for him for almost twenty years by the furniture factories in Berlin/Kitchener. Arthur’s own case factory was in production by 1920 for another twenty years.
IN THE MUSEUM'S COLLECTION: Two of the seven models in the museum’s collection of Paul’s clocks were donated by his widow Anne and the other five were purchased in 2015 from a collector who had earlier bought them from her. Six are reproductions of Pequegnat original catalogued models (Tokio, Barrie, Peterboro, Montreal, Brandon, and Woodstock), but the Colonial Westminster wall clock is Paul’s own design with a birds-eye maple wood case, a three-spring chimes movement, and two fake weights.
GALLERY PICTURES: Shown here are the seven models currently in the museum's collection. The Introduction page from Paul's catalogue and his 1993 price list provide details on the model options.
All but the Woodstock have Paul’s company label on the back, each with the model typed in but a different serial (?) number. This gallery includes the six labels. Unfortunately, Anne has no information about the unusual typed-in numbers on the labels.
Paul’s great skill as a cabinet maker is clearly evident in these display models. Sadly, there is no record of how many clocks he made on order (perhaps one hundred?) for his customers during the thirteen year production period up to the end of his life in mid 1997.
The Blue Mountain Pottery (BMP) factory in Collingwood, Ontario produced hundreds of designs of jugs, pots, vases, figurines, and other shapes using glazed, molded red clay from about 1953 to 2004. Based on our research, they did not make or sell clocks.
However, in the 1960s and 1970s they did produce four versions of ceramic plates for Caravelle battery wall clocks sold by the United States-based Bulova Watch Company.
Our museum currently (February 2016) has two examples (colours) of each of the round plate, octagonal plate, and chicken clock models. Their pictures are included in this Gallery. The known colours are the classic BMP dark green, cobalt blue, and orange/red. Note the variety of dial designs.
Embossed on the back of each plate is the three-trees BMP logo and the mold number. The mold numbers are C-170 (round plate, 25 cm diameter), C-171 (fish), C-172 (chicken, 34 cm high), and C-173 (octagonal plate, 25 cm wide).
The early battery movements needed a flashlight battery to drive the geared balance wheel mechanism. It is possible that early quartz movements were used by the mid 1970s when they became more widely available. But some clocks found today may have replacement quartz movements that were installed when the original geared movements failed.
We are still looking for an example of the fourth known model, the fish facing left - the picture shown here was found online.
The web site for Blue Mountain Pottery collectors is www.bmpcc.com.
THE CLOCK's KNOWN HISTORY: Our unique museum acquired this rare and unusual Canadian-made floor clock in June of 2005. The clock's "history", recorded in French probably in the 1920s, indicated that it was made in the early 1820s north of Montreal, Lower Canada. The maker is recorded as Xavier Clement, a man who apparently made spinning wheels at that time. A scan of that small document, which includes the English translation provided by the previous owners of the clock, is included below.
THE CASE: The main case and removable hood are made of pine wood with a dark finish. In bright light there is evidence for grain painting seen through the outer finish. Some sections of the front (probably cut from the same board) show evidence for aging perhaps caused by severe temperature and humidity variations over the clock's lifetime of almost two centuries.
THE DIALS: They are made from wood, with hand-painted numbers, chapter ring, and ornamentation that includes the colourful rainbow ring around both dials and the two moons on the moon phase dial.
THE WOOD MOVEMENT: In this gallery you will see many pictures of the various wood components in the three-train movement, including the gears and pulleys. This 8-day, weight-driven pendulum clock has a painted pine wood case in the 1820s piller & scroll hood style better known for the Twiss pine-case floor clocks made in their own factory in Montreal, province of Lower Canada in the 1820s.
The Twiss brothers used 30-hour wood time & strike movements imported from Connecticut, and tin-can weights filled with stones or sand. This Xavier Clement clock has two much larger tin can weights (stones) for running the eight-day time and strike gear trains, plus a smaller lead weight for the third gear train that runs the simple quarter-hour strike on four bells.
This unusual movement also has a simple calendar system driven by two wood gears, one with seven teeth (for day of the week) and the other with thirty-one teeth (for day of the month). Two small hands indicate the day and date on the main dial below the centre. The first letter of the French word for each day of the week is printed in pencil on the calendar dial - for example j = jeudi (Thursday) and v = vendredi (Friday). See the pictures in this Gallery.
Notethat the brass hands and four cast bells are replacements installed by the previous owners in Montreal when they had the movement restored (several broken teeth). It was a "basket case", missing its hands and bells, when they found it many years ago. We painted the hands flat black after acquiring the clock in June 2005.
RESEARCH: museum volunteer, Ray Springer, has done much research recently about Xavier Clement in various archives in Quebec. The results of that work will be recorded here in the near future (summer 2015).
This Gallery will be of special interest to serious collectors of
100% Canadian-made Pequegnat mantel clocks.
There were almost one hundred different catalogued models of mantel, wall, and hall (grandfather) clocks produced by The Arthur Pequegnat Clock Company between 1904 and 1941 in Berlin / 1916 / Kitchener, Ontario. Some are more common today than others, and their current values reflect that uneven distribution.
No company production records have ever been found - sadly, in fact, there is very good evidence that they were intentionally destroyed around the day of the final disposal auction in 1964. "Marcel Pequegnat, nominally the last company President, ordered that all company records be taken to the dump. Which was done."
But there is one extremely rare model that collectors are looking for: the PREMIER mantel clock listed only in the first catalogue in 1904. All other Pequegnat clocks have wood cases. The PREMIER has a black-painted metal (cast iron) case, in the general style of the tens of thousands of black metal-cased mantel clocks made by several American companies in the early 1900s.
Because of the high collector value for the PREMIER model, there has often been a concern about "home-made" (= fake) Premier examples possibly showing up on the market.
As of mid April 2017 we are now aware of THREE different examples of the PREMIER that are in private hands. In each case the owners contacted our museum for identification. And we then consulted Canadian clocks and Pequegnat clocks expert Jim Connell for his opinion.
The first example was reported to us back in 2006 and is in private hands in western Canada.
The second example has two aspects that raised concerns about authenticity. One is that the front feet are a typical Pequegnat style BUT NOT the shape shown in the 1904 catalogue. The other concern is that the slow / fast speed adjust letters are reversed on its dial compared to "normal" early Pequegnat dials. They appear as F S around the dial hole, not the expected S F. However, there now appears to be a plausible explanation for this oddity - read on!
The third example, like the first, appears to be a perfect match with the picture in the 1904 catalogue. Note that the owners of this clock do have both lions heads RINGS not shown in some of their pictures.
For each example in the many pictures below, the black painted case and back panel are metal. Only the inside floor that holds the spiral gong is made of wood. There is no paper company label on any of these three clocks.
For examples 1 and 3, at the bottom of the early celluloid plastic dial you see The Arthur Pequegnat Clock Co., Berlin, Canada. There is no company name on the example 2 dial, BUT that is NOT a concern, because many early Pequegnat celluloid dials do not have the company name.
Also, for each clock, the confirmed Pequegnat-design movement does not have the company name, but that is also not uncommon for early Pequegnat mantel clock movements. However, all three have the characteristic shiny, nickel-plated back plates the same as for stamped Pequegnat movements.
CONCLUSIONS - ARE THEY REAL? In this group of three PREMIER clocks, two (the first and third in this discussion) look to be identical to the picture in the Pequegnat 1904 catalogue and they are believed to be all original. The 1904 catalogue description includes: PARLOR CLOCK. Premier. Black Enamelled Iron. Width 14 inches. Height 10 1/2 inches. The dimensions appear to include the feet and lions heads.
I believe that the second example is also real, perhaps made in a later production run when "normal" Pequegnat feet were taken from the stock used for their wood-cased models. The reversed letters around the dial hole for the speed-adjust arbor, F S instead of the usual S F, stand out for sure. BUT the fact that an early COLONIAL model also has the perceived "defective" dial (see the pictures in this Gallery) suggests that the Pequegnat factory workers had simply used a stock of these "defective" dials. OPEN FOR DISCUSSION.
ALL PICTURES in this Gallery were kindly provided to us with our thanks by the different clock owners in 2006 (the first), 2017 (the second, including the Colonial model with the same "wrong" dial), and 2017 (the third).
So we now know about three examples of the rare PREMIER model. Can we now assume that here must me more out there somewhere in Canada? HAPPY HUNTING.
Allan Symons museum Curator
CLICK ON ANY THUMBNAIL IMAGE TO SHOW THEM ALL.
IF YOU HAVE A PREMIER MODEL and wish to confirm its identity, compare yours with these pictures and the catalogue dimensions. And you can contact the museum for advice.
As of March 2015 the museum now has two old work benches in its Exhibit Room. An oak rolltop bench with foot-operated lathe was acquired in October 2008. The patent date on the large metal flywheel is 1898. It may have come originally from a watch/clock repair shop in Toronto.
In March 2015 we added by donation an open-top bench used by Max Silverman in his Dominion Jewellers shop in Ottawa for several decades starting around 1957.
Pictures of these two benches with some associated tools are shown in this Gallery.
These are the examples in the museum's collection of Breslin Industries 1950s clocks at January 2015. Note one windup clock in the horseshoe combined with an electric lamp with a copper-coloured metal shade on a metal base. And we have a "curling motif" electric lamp (no clock), no doubt from the 1950s.
Below are pictures of the known-to-date (February 2015) Girotti wall clocks. Five of them are now in the museum's own Girotti collection.
Note the use of brass bars hour markers on the dials of some of the wood panel models.
The date of manufacture was often molded into the chalkware components on the wood panel clocks and into the side of the molded polymer foam cases.See the pictures for examples.
For the fan-shaped, starburst style, three different metal rod frame designs are known (see the pictures). The museum has one example. Various combinations of walnut wood rays could be used to create different models.
The molded polymer-foam cased clocks had round metal dials. The same script word Girotti is found on the dials of both the wood and metal dials. See the pictures here.
We have two (one now loose) of the original three identical round Girotti Sculptured Art labels on the back of the Spanish Villa example. They covered the three drilled holes in the wood veneer panel where the nuts are installed in the back on the small bolts that hold the heavy molded chalkware piece(s) in place.
The same label is found on the back of Girotti chalkware wall plaques.
The 1971 Girotti Sculptured Art catalogue shows three different models of wood panel clock (but not the two now in our collection!) and eleven models of molded foam wall clocks, plus many other company products that included molded statues, molded picture and mirror frames, and wall plaques with molded designs.
Our museum thanks Aaron Tisdelle, a grandson of company co-founder Marino Girotti, for the loan of this catalogue so that we could scan the pages.
The scans of the covers plus the three pages with clocks from the 1971 Girotti catalogue are included here.
See the Canadian Makers section for details about this company set up in Toronto in the early 1930s by Walter Stonkus from Lithuania (arrived 1927). Before WWII, Walter made all of the wood cases for his mantel clocks and put in spring-driven pendulum movements imported from England and Germany. The cases had a walnut veneer finish and a hinged back door.
There were no clocks produced during WWII because overseas movements were not available. After the war, Walter's son Bill joined the company and Walter Clocks was again making their own mantel clocks from the late 1940s into the late 1950s. Most of the cases were now constructed with stained birch wood rather than the more expensive walnut. And Walter had designed the unique removable round back door characteristic of his postwar clocks.
By the late 1950s, when the North American market for mantel clocks started to decline, the company was also importing various types of German clocks (e.g. cuckoo, 400 day, alarm) for sale in Canada. That business continued up to the mid 1960s.
Below are pictures of the mantel clocks currently in the museum's Walter Clocks collection. Included are the typical prewar/postwar company label always found inside the back door, Walter's postwar round back door, the typical postwar pendulum bob, and some of the spring-driven pendulum movements.
The parent company of Westclox Canada, the Western Clock Company, started up near Chicago, Illinois in the 1880s.
The first Westclox factory outside the United States was set up in Peterborough, Ontario in an empty building in 1920. By 1923 a new factory was ready, and additions were put on regularly up to the 1950s as business continued to expand. The Peterborough factory closed in the 1980s when the Westclox north American factories also shut down in favour of offshore locations where labour costs were lower.
The model name Big Ben was created in the U.S. around 1908 for their large nickel-plated, spring-driven "tin can" alarm clocks. The models Baby Ben (smaller size), Pocket Ben (watch), and Wrist Ben followed just a few years later.
In this Gallery we include many examples of Canadian-made Westclox alarm clocks dating from the early 1920s through to the early 1980s.
Back in the mid 1800s in the Province of Canada (1841-1867), rich people could afford to purchase an expensive clock that would have been made in a "big city" in eastern North America or imported from Europe. But the vast majority of residents did not have the money to spend on one of those clocks, and many families functionned very well without any clock in the home, especially in rural areas.
By the early 1840s Seth Thomas and other American clock manufacturers were changing from wood movements to sheet brass produced locally in Connecticut to stamp out the gears and movement plates. See our WOOD GEAR CLOCKS IN CANADA Gallery. This new process with sheet brass also created interchangeable parts, the same as the earlier wood gears method, and continued to lower the average cost of the "mass-produced" clock movements.
In the 1850s and 1860s several residents of Leeds County, east of Kingston in Canada West (Ontario today) and also some men in the Toronto / Hamilton area were importing Seth Thomas thirty-hour and eight-day, weight-driven clockswith their own customized labels. Those clocks were sold mostly door to door by the peddlers travelling, of course, by horse-drawn wagons over unpaved roads back then.
In this Gallery we show many examples of these earliest brass-movement clocks from the museum's collections.
Shown in this Gallery from the museum's collections are some pictures of 1820s and 1830s wood-gears clocks with Canadian labels.
Before about 1840, rolled sheet brass was an expensive material imported into North America from England. Early clock movements were custom made one tooth, one gear at a time - the costs of labour time and materials were both high. The result was that only rich people could afford a clock.
To get around this brass "problem", beginning in the late 1700s some American clock makers started to use local woods - oak and finer-grain cherry - to make the plates and gears, respectively, for some tall case clocks. Eli Terry in Connecticut patented a wood-geared 30-hour, weight-driven movement for mantel clocks in 1816. This led to the "mass-produced" classic pillar & scroll clock case with its interchageable-parts movement that became very popular in the 1820s as the affordable clock for many middle class families. The museum has an example with a case made in Nova Scotia and the movement (probably) imported from Eli Terry's factory (see pictures).
In the 1820s/30s thirty-hour, weight-driven wood movements were being used in eastern North America in low-end floor clocks with pine cases painted to look like mahogany wood. The weights were typically metal cans filled with stones, and were pulled up daily by their cables. No key was needed - the winding holes on the hand-painted wood dials were fake! This was the lowest cost floor clock available.
Several Twiss brothers came up to Montreal, Lower Canada, from Connecticut in the mid / late 1820s to set up a factory to produce grain-painted pine cases for floor clocks for the Canadian market. The thirty-hour, weight-driven wood movements were imported from a Connecticut factory. The museum has a JB & R (Joseph and Russell) Twiss clock (see pictures). Also found on some Montreal dials is I. Twiss, the I for brother Ira.
The 1830s brought a change in mantel case style to the larger, half columns and splat mantel clock that typically had a mirror in the lower section of the door. Wooden gears and cast iron weights to drive the clock were still used. The museum has examples from sellers in Nova Scotia, Lower Canada, and Upper Canada (see pictures).
Starting around 1840 Seth Thomas in Connecticut began using locally produced sheet brass to make his clock movements. The parts were stamped out and therefore interchangeable, which greatly reduced the manufacturing cost of clocks and hence the price to the public. In a separate Gallery (being developed July 2010) you will soon be able to see examples of Seth Thomas 30-hour and 8-day weight-driven, brass movement mantel clocks that were imported into Canada West (Ontario after 1867). These EXTRA NO. 1 BRASS CLOCKS were sold mostly by peddlars to customers in Leeds County (east of Kingston) and in the Toronto/Hamilton area in the 1850s and 1860s.
Seth Thomas started making clocks in Plymouth, Connecticut in the early 1800s, originally using wood for the plates and gears (interchangeable parts) like other clockmakers at that time. By about 1840 he had switched to using sheet brass that became available from the local rolling mills. This material was much less expensive than the sheet brass that had to be imported in earlier decades from England, and the parts could now be stamped out. The result was the start of mass production of relatively inexpensive brass clock movements and clocks. Thousands were shipped to Britain.
Seth Thomas the man died in the late 1850s, but his company continued in business for more than a century. In 1931 Seth Thomas Clocks became part of General Time Corporation, which owned Westclox.
In Canada, Seth Thomas brand mantel, alarm and wall clocks were made in the Westclox factory in Peterborough, Ontario until the mid 1980s when the factory closed.
In this Gallery are shown from our museum's collections some of the typical Seth Thomas brand clocks made in the 20th century in the Peterborough factory. Both time & strike (on the hour and half hour) and chiming (on the quarter hours) spring-driven pendulum movements were used in the mantel clocks, depending on the model. In addition, some models were available with an electric motor. The chiming pendulum movements were brought in from the American Westclox factory. Their RD 1931 alarm clocks had high-quality balance-wheel movements made in the Peterborough Westclox factory.
Note that back in the mid 19th century many weight-driven Seth Thomas mantel clocks were brought into Canada West (Ontario today) from the Plymouth, Connecticut factory by peddlars in Leeds County east of Kingston and by sellers in the Toronto and Hamilton area. Examples of those clocks will be shown soon in a separate Gallery on our site.
The text and images below were provided by Canadian clocks expert Jim Connell. Jane Varkaris also did some of the original research for the book that they co-authored in 1986.
THE CANADA CLOCK COMPANYLIMITED
Hamilton, Ontario (1880-1884)
View of factory with new company name from an OG clock label
History of the Company
This company was the last of three sequential attempts to produce clocks by factory methods in Canada during the 1872 - 1884 period. The original effort by the Canada Clock Company in Whitby, Ontario was basically unsuccessful and only limited production was achieved.
In 1876, the equipment was relocated to Hamilton, Ontario to begin a second attempt as the Hamilton Clock Company, with new investors. This attempt was more successful and a fairly wide range of clocks was produced. However, sales were not very large and some of the investors left the company by 1879. At that point the president, James Simpson, ended production and proceeded with a major reorganization. The story of the first two companies is told in more detail in other Galleries on the museum’s web site.
The third company took a whole new approach:
(1) A group of new investors was found.
(2) The company was incorporated as a limited liability corporation to protect the investors. The third company was named the Canada Clock Company Limited.
(3) The original factory in Hamilton was retained, but upgrades were made where necessary.
(4) The clock movements were redesigned. Some of the original dies were retained, but the movements show distinct changes when compared with previous production samples. Several new variants were offered.
(5) Major changes were made to the design of the wood cases. The use of veneers was abandoned, and all cases were made with solid woods that ranged from stained pine to more elegant materials such as butternut, walnut, and mahogany. In addition, the cases were extensively decorated with turnings and hand-carved sections. The resulting clocks in many instances were quite attractive and compared well with competitive U.S. production models.
This third company enjoyed an additional advantage because of the “National Policy” introduced by the Canadian Government in 1879. This offered tariff protection to Canadian industries. As a result, the company achieved initial success and reports in the press during 1882 commented that there were 50 employees and, in another article, that the company had exhibited 55 clocks in 43 styles and with seven different movements.
Another eye-witness account in “The Canadian Manufacturer” of 1883 described a walk through the plant, where “everything but the springs” was manufactured on site and in volume. But unfortunately, everything came to a crashing halt in 1884 for some as yet unknown reason. The company went into bankruptcy and, soon after, all facilities were sold off to settle claims.
Now in the early 21st century, in the light of those reports, it is difficult to understand why the company ended so badly. We can only speculate. The company management had little or no experience in the production and marketing of clocks, and in spite of tariff protection, there was still effective competition from clocks imported from several foreign sources including the United States. The Canadian market was a small one. And perhaps it was becoming saturated – most families likely owned and needed only one mantel clock.
In order to achieve production efficiency, large production runs would have been desirable and production may well have exceeded demand. And, when one examines the clock cases, the great amount of hand labour expended in decorative turnings and carving may have resulted in labour costs that could not easily be recovered in a small market with effective competition.
But whatever the causes of company failures, the clocks themselves are an attractive and interesting group. Most mantel models from all three companies were thirty-hour operation, and so today are of little interest to anyone simply interested in buying an “old” clock. Even for collectors, they are scarce and have never achieved the popularity of the more readily available Pequegnat clocks. But they do have their own charm as genuine, 100% Canadian-made antiques.
As mentioned above, clocks with veneered pine cases were no longer produced - all cases were solid woods. A variety of woods were used, ranging from stained pine to walnut and mahogany. A significant quantity of butternut wood was also used. Some cases, often butternut, were given a “sponge work” finish to imitate fancy burled veneer. This practice was not commonly used by competitors.
The cases themselves were offered in a wide variety of styles, ranging from simple rectangular ‘box’ forms to complex cases with many turned finials and other ornaments, as well as much hand-carved decoration. The gallery below illustrates most of the known case styles that were produced. Also, for the first time, MODEL NAMES were assigned to specific case designs. These sometimes had a Canadian connection, such as the Winnipeg, Montreal, and St. Lawrence models. Others had more fanciful names such as Montefiore, Golden Light, or Pembina. British royalty was recognized by the Victoria, the Prince of Wales, and the Crown Jewel, for example.
Perhaps half of the styles produced were close copies of competitive U.S. products. This can be seen in models such as The Victoria, the Dominion, and the St. Lawrence. In other examples, the company made excellent cases with unique styling, such as the City of London, the City of Paris, the Niagara, and the Forest Beauty. In all examples, the workmanship was of high quality.
There are a couple of other points to be noted. Firstly, many changes were made in the detail of the cases over time, and it would appear that the company seldom made exactly the same product from one production run to the next. Some of these variations are shown below. A single case style could be fitted with either a 30-hour or 8-day spring-driven movement.
Seven different movements are known:
30-hour, time & strike, weight-driven (for OG clocks)
30-hour, time only, spring-driven
30-hour, time & alarm (between the plates0, spring-driven
30-hour, time & strike, spring-driven
8-day, time-only, spring-driven
8-day, time & strike, spring-driven
optional separate alarm mechanism
Simple calendar mechanisms were also sometimes added to either of the 8-day movements when used in wall clocks. Separate alarms have been found in both OGs and some 8-day mantel clocks.
30-hour OG movement (changes were made to wheel location and spokes).
30-hour, time-only movement
30-hour, time & alarm movement, with alarm between the plates (a new product)
30-hour, time & strike (this replaced the movement used by the Hamilton Clock Co.)
8-day, time only movement (a new product)
8-day, time & strike movement
Separate alarm movement variants
Movement stamp (rarely used, but different from the Whitby stamp)
There were many different printed labels used in the various models but only a few are shown here. More examples can be found in the reference book below. Of more interest perhaps was the use of a rubber stamp with a variety of coloured inks, including black and green, to mark the company and model name on the case backs of many of their clocks. This may have been an attempt to save printing costs during the last days of the company.
A selection of typical paper and stamped ink labels used on the clock cases.
As noted with the Hamilton Clock Company, the second Canada Clock Company continued to use etched glass tablets in many of their clocks. Some examples can be seen below. New patterns appeared with the new product line. There were also a variety of silk-screened tablets used. The eye-witness account mentioned above stated that “many of these were gotten up in the factory, some of them also being hand painted”.
Some Canada Clock Company (Hamilton) Clocks
These simple, weight-driven clocks apparently sold well and are relatively common today. The cases are unique among OGs since they were the only ones ever made from solid butternut, with imitation graining painted on. (Having said that, one veneered OG has been found with the Canada Clock Co. Ltd. label and movement - this was evidently made from leftover stock remaining from the Hamilton Clock Co.)
OG clock with dark painted finish
OG with light painted finish
OG with veneer on front (from old case stock?)
These small “cottage” clocks were offered in a variety of case styles, utilizing either the 30-hour, time-only or the 30-hour time & alarm (between-the-plates) movement. The tendency to make changes in design from one run to another can be seen with several of these models, particularly the Metropolitan, where six different versions of this cottage clock are known.
Metropolitan model cottage clock - six known variants
Two Montreal model cottage clocks
Gem cottage clock
City of Paris (smaller version) cottage variants
City of London cottage variants
Hamilton Time cottage clock
Hamilton Time Extra cottage clock
Monitor cottage clock
Many of these models were fitted with either 30-hour or 8-day movements as options. Examples with an added alarm function are also found occasionally. Other variants may exist and there may still be models that have yet to be identified.
City of Halifax
City of Hamilton
City of Paris (larger version; smaller versioin shown above)
Crown Jewel variant
Prince of Wales
Winnipeg (with spools)
Winnipeg variant (no spools)
unknown model name
Several walls clock were offered with a variety of 8-day movements.
hanging gingerbread type (model name unknown)
octagonal wall clock (time-only version)
octagonal wall clock (time, strike, and calendar version)
Regulator wall clock (smaller version)
Regulator wall clock (larger version, time and calendar movement)
Some Final Thoughts
Here are a few additional details.
(1) Two models, the City of Paris and the Regulator, were offered in two sizes as noted above. Comparative photos for both models are shown here.
City of Paris (two sizes produced)
Regulator (two sizes produced)
(2) Two trademarks were used on some dials. Cottage clocks often displayed a small maple leaf outline containing the letter “C”. On other dials a concentric “CCCo” inside a circle was employed. Collectors should beware of the fact that, some years later, the Gilbert Clock Company in the United States used a very similar logo with “GCCo”. Such logos should be examined carefully to avoid confusion.
Maple Leaf logo on some dials
CCCo logo on some dials
For further reading see the following book:
The Canada and Hamilton Clock Companies, Jane Varkaris & James E. Connell, Boston Mills Press, Erin, Ontario 1986 (out of print).
The text and images below were provided by Canadian clocks expert Jim Connell. Jane Varkaris also did someof the original research for the book that they co-authored in 1986.The book details are given at the bottom of this section.
THE HAMILTON CLOCK COMPANY
Hamilton, Ontario (1876-1880)
History of the Company
This company was established in 1876, after the failure of the Canada Clock Company in Whitby, Ontario. The factory was located in an existing building at the corner Cathcart and Kelly Streets in old Hamilton.
The machinery and other tools and equipment were purchased and moved to Hamilton by two business men, James Simpson and George Lee. Simpson, born in Scotland, had been active in Hamilton for years as a partner in a wholesale grocery business. He assumed the title of President of the clock company. Lee, born in Ireland, was also active in food wholesaling, and the operation of hotels, and restaurants. He became the Business Manager. Neither man had any prior experience with factory operations or clock making.
Technical expertise was provided by John F. Collins, who had previously acted as Manager of the Canada Clock Company in Whitby and had been instrumental in equipping and operating that enterprise. He was brought from Whitby along with the equipment and given the title of Mechanical Superintendent.
Collins utilized tools, dies and designs he had created at Whitby, so the Hamilton company was really a continuation of his previous efforts. He was able to broaden the range of movements and case styles, and hence to offer a more complete line of merchandise. Unfortunately, after a few years, he appears to have fallen out with the new owners and left the company in 1879.
George Lee, in turn, suffered health problems and was obliged to leave around 1880.
This left James Simpson as sole proprietor. He ended production under the name Hamilton Clock Company and proceeded to make major changes. The factory and equipment were retained, but a completely updated product line was developed. Simpson found new investors and incorporated the firm as a public company that was renamed The Canada Clock Company Limited. Its history will be covered in a separate one of these Galleries.
The Hamilton Clock Company appears to have made a valiant effort to provide clocks for the Canadian market, in competition with the huge U.S. clock factories that already dominated the market. Hamilton clocks matched competitive products in appearance and their quality was quite adequate. The volume achieved, however, was never very large and the product line was simple and limited. No catalogues or printed material have ever been found from the company and our opinions can only be based on an examination of surviving clocks. Perhaps, like the attempt in Whitby, the available capital and ‘know-how’ were insufficient to ensure a major success.
Most mantel and wall clock cases from the Hamilton factory were made from standardized veneered mouldings which were cut and glued together in a variety of shapes. This technique was also used by competitive firms and certainly simplified the amount of woodworking skill required. To form the base of each case, two moulding styles were available, which can be described as “single curve” and “double curve”. The upper portion of each case was made from mouldings which were either “wide” or “narrow” in form.
The clock on the left is made from the “wide” moulding and “double curve” base.
On the right is an example with the “single curve base” and “narrow” moulding.
A wide variety of mantel clocks could then be made up, by varying style and color of mouldings as well as the size and shape of the final case. Further variety was achieved by using a variety of dials, pendulums and glass tablets. Examples are shown in the illustrations at the bottom of this Gallery.
It should be mentioned that OG clocks were also manufactured at Hamilton, and these were identical in construction to those that had been made at Whitby with veneered pine cases. In addition, small cottage clocks were produced using plain stained pine or simple veneered pine. A few Hamilton clocks are also known that do not conform to these patterns. They may have been made for a special order or as a prototype for later production. See below for illustrations.
Movements Used in Hamilton Clock Company Clocks
Five different movements are known to have been produced at Hamilton during this period. These consisted of:
30-hour, weight-driven, time & strike,
30-hour, spring-driven, time only,
30-hour, spring-driven, time & strike,
8-day, spring-driven, time & strike,
a separate alarm mechanism
These movements are illustrated here, and further data can be obtained from the reference cited below. All are spring-driven except for the OG weight-driven movement. One variant, however, deserves special comment. The company offered an octagonal “schoolhouse style” wall clock for use in schools and offices, and it was usually sold with the 8-day striking movement.
Occasionally a customer would demand a clock that did not strike the hours. For the small number needed, it appears that funds were not diverted to produce a standard 8-day, time-only movement. To satisfy the customer, a regular 8-day striking movement was altered by physically cutting away the strike mechanism! This was a crude but practical solution, and a method seldom used by other manufacturers. The removed brass sections from the plates could be recycled.
30-hour, time & strike OG movement
30-hour, time-only, spring-driven movement
30-hour, spring-driven, time & strike movement
8-day, spring-driven, time & strike movement
8-day, time-only, spring-driven movement (strike side removed)
separate spring-driven alarm mechanism (bell not present)
company name stamp on brass movement plate
Labels on Hamilton Clock Company Clocks
Most clocks were fitted with standard labels that contained operating instructions, the company name and location. The factory building was frequently shown in an engraving. Pictures of several examples are provided below. Model names were not given to most clocks. One exception was “The Simpson”, a simple little cottage clock of unusual shape, which is shown in the section below. It was, of course, named after the company President, James Simpson. Since only one example is known, it was obviously not a ‘best seller’.
OG clock label showing the three partners' names SIMPSON, LEE, and COLLINS
1-day mantel clock label
8-day mantel clock label
mantel clock with inside label
Simpson model clock label
Examples of Clocks Produced by the Hamilton Clock Company
This section shows examples of most of the clock varieties produced. Other variants may exist. In fact, new versions are identified from time to time. Some of the clocks shown are very rare and in some instances only one or two examples are known. Similar mantel clock styles are grouped together to show how the components could be varied within a single style to create new models. All had spring-driven pendulum movements except the OG clocks.
OG WEIGHT-DRIVEN CLOCKS
The OG clock cases and movements are similar tothose made at Whitby. Labels may show the names of Simpson, Lee, and Collins, and later, Lee only. Note the etched glass tablets. Mirrors were also commonly used.
This style was typically a small, time-only shelf clock that was less expensive to make and buy. Several American companies produced similar models in the mid/late 1800s.
Miniature with 30-hour, time-only movement
Standard size with 30-hour, time & alarm movement
POINTED-TOP MANTEL CLOCKS
Clocks in this style and the others shown below were also made by American companies at the same period of time (mid / late 1800s).
miniature 30-hour time
30-hour time & strike
30-hour time & strike
30-hour time & strike
30-hour time & strike
8-day time & strike
FLAT-TOP MANTEL CLOCKS
30-hour time & strike
FOUR-SIDED-TOP (“Octagon Prize”) MANTEL CLOCKS
miniature 30-hour, time-only
30-hour, time & strike
(note the beaver & maple leaves design on the glass tablet)
8-day, time & strike
8-day, time & strike
miniature 30-hour, time-only
30-hour, time & strike
8-da,y time & strike
octagonal wall clock, time & strike
octagonal wall clock, time-only
the Simpson mantel clock (30-hour, time-only)
carved case type 1, 8-day, time & strike
carved case type 2, 8-day, time & strike
gingerbread style case
The above clock was found as an empty case with label - the dial and movement were added for the photo.
Etched Glass Tablets
Many of the clocks shown above were fitted with glass tablets that contained acid-etched decoration. These are unique. In the latter 1800s, Hamilton was the site of two glass-making plants, both of which made window glass. Glass decorating would have been commonplace at the time, and we do not know for sure if this was done at the clock factory or elsewhere.
In any event, no other clock maker, except the successor Canada Clock Co. Limited, offered so many designs of etched tablets. Many of them had religious motifs and others showed a variety of geometric patterns. They add a measure of charm to these otherwise rather plain clocks. Such tablets are rare on American-made clocks from the period.
For further reading see the following book:
The Canada and Hamilton Clock Companies, Jane Varkaris & James E. Connell,Boston Mills Press, Erin, Ontario 1986 (out of print).
The text and images below were provided by Canadian clocks expert Jim Connell. Jane Varkaris also did some of the original research for the book that they co-authored in 1986. The book details are provided at the bottom of this section.
THE CANADA CLOCK COMPANY
Whitby, Ontario (1872-1876)
History of the Company
The Canada Clock Company is of considerable historical interest, because it was the first attempt to produce clocks in Canada using factory methods. It was begun in 1872 by three brothers: William, John, and Edward Collins. The plant was equipped during the latter months of 1872, and limited production began in January 1873. William Collins appears to have been the initial investor. John Collins, listed as Manager, was in charge of technical matters and production, while Edward Collins appears to have simply been an employee in the plant.
Later in 1873, William Collins attempted unsuccessfully to attract more investment capital. At that point John Hamer Greenwood, Mayor of Whitby, invested money hoping to secure the clock factory as a permanent Whitby industry, and William Collins withdrew. Production in the balance of 1873 and 1874 appears to have been somewhat successful, and 30-hour OG (OGEE) clocks were shipped in some (unknown) quantity.
Unfortunately, in early 1875, Mayor Greenwood, now company President, was forced into personal bankruptcy, having overextended his finances. The factory, valued at $45,000, had to be sold to satisfy creditors. In April 1875, another prominent Whitby personality, Col. James Wallace, assumed financial responsibility for the clock factory. At once he made vigorous efforts to secure additional business for the firm. Calling himself Proprietor, he met with some success but appears to have been handicapped by insufficient capital. His efforts to sell the going company, or attract new partners, came to a sudden end in December 1875 when a serious fire damaged the factory.
The fire stopped all production, but there appeared to be no serious damage to the machinery. There was some insurance coverage, but not enough to cover the losses suffered by Col. Wallace. At this point, he was left with a quantity of clocks and empty cases, which he then cleared out in two auction sales in 1876 and 1877. He advertised that some of the clocks were fitted with movements obtained from the Ansonia Clock Company (this is the only known time that clocks were sold either in Whitby or later in Hamilton with imported movements).
This ended all efforts to manufacture clocks in Whitby. Back in April of 1876 he had been successful in selling the machinery and other tools to investors in Hamilton, Ontario. These investors were James Simpson, a wholesale grocer, and George Lee, who was also active in the food business. They formed a new company, The Hamilton Clock Company, to resume production of clocks and were able to expand the business. John and Edward Collins also went to Hamilton, where they helped set up the new company. John was appointed Mechanical Superintendent.
The Hamilton Clock Company was reorganized in 1880 and re-named The Canada Clock Company Limited, now based in the same Hamilton factory. The stories of these two companies are described in two other sections of our web site Galleries.
The Clocks Produced at Whitby
The only clocks produced in quantity were 30-hour OGs with weight-driven, time & strike movements. This simple style of clock was still popular at the time in Canada, after its original introduction in the United States in the 1840s when the first brass movements became available in North America, and they sold well. It was similar to American production OG clocks and did not change during the four years of activity in Whitby.
Two examples are illustrated here.
This is a typical example of regular OG clock
production in Whitby, from about 1874.
This clock came from one of Col. Wallace’s
clearing auctions and contains an Ansonia movement.
The case is an end-of-line item, with no veneer on the curved surfaces. This deficiency is concealed by a coat of dark varnish. The clearing auction notices also mentioned a number of other case styles to be sold. Few of these have survived, but we can show two examples of experimental (?) cases that contain Ansonia spring-driven movements. These case styles were not produced by the successor companies.
A simple clock with spring movement and Whitby label.
This example is similar to the previous, except for the bevel top.
The Labels on Whitby Clocks
Four label variants have been found and are shown here. These reflect the many changes in management that were described above.
This was the first label used at Whitby. No company officers or place name are shown, possibly because an effort was being made to sell the company to new investors. Note the image of a beaver (a Canadian symbol even back then!) – facing left.
The second label in time shows J. Hamer Greenwood as President,
and John F. Collins as Manager. The beaver now faces right.
In the third label, the name of James Wallace
as Proprietor replaces Greenwood.
The fourth label was used in the clearance clocks
with Ansonia movements after factory production ceased.
The names of Wallace and Collins again appear,
but the BEAVER is gone.
Movements Used at Whitby
As noted above, only one movement type (30 hour time and strike, weight-driven) was actually produced at Whitby. There were, however, a few evolutionary changes made as time went on and these are shown here.
Research indicates that the Collins Brothers made a close copy of the
OG movement used by the Waterbury Clock Company in Connecticut.
A comparison of the two movements is shown above (Waterbury on the left).
This is the first movement made at Whitby.
It is distinctive because the upper plate was held on the posts
by bent wire pins. The escape-wheel bridge slopes downwards.
In this second variant, the metal pins have been
replaced by brass nuts to hold the upper plate.
(Waterbury movements never used brass nuts).
The third and last known variant continued to use
brass nuts, but the escape wheel bridge is now
mounted in a horizontal position.
Included here as a matter of interest is the Ansonia movement used by Col. Wallace in 1876 / 77 to clear out old Whitby OG cases stock.
Whitby movement plates were usually (but not always)
marked with this company stamp.
For further reading see the following book:
The Canada and Hamilton Clock Companies, Jane Varkaris & James E. Connell, Boston Mills Press, Erin, Ontario 1986 (out of print).
The museum has several sundials that operate well on SUNNY days. Click on one of the pictures below to show the complete set, then click on any picture to enlarge it and read the caption.
There are two portable garden sundials on the front lawn that are not very accurate. One has the typical flat dial and fixed gnomon (shadow caster) on a concrete base. The other with adjustable gnomon for setting local latitude has a brass armillary type of dial where the shadow cast by the arrow shaft moves across the semicircular array of hour markers.
There are two wall sundials that show standard time during the winter and daylight saving time during the summer. These were designed and made for the museum in 2001 and 2003 by Julian Brown of Kingston and are modernized versions of the types of wall sundials used thousands of years ago. Time is read from the straight edge of the shadow on the dial.
The colourful wall example with the copper gnomon on the front of the building catches the mid-day through afternoon sun. The tip of the shadow moves daily as the shadow gets longer (December 21 to June 21) or shorter (June 21 to December 21). The tip falls on one of the colour zones that refer to the seasons - green for summer grass and whitefor winter snow, red and yellow for both spring flowers and fall leaves.
The wall example around the corner with the pink Plexiglas gnomon catches the morning and mid-day sun. Both wall sundials are two feet square. Note the very different layouts of the dials because of their 90 degrees difference in angle to the sun.
In the summer of 2008 we installed a "human" analemmic sundial on our front lawn. A visitor can stand on the correct month on the centre board set into the lawn and use his/her shadow falling across an array of numbered round patio stones to estimate current time to within about ten minutes. Thepinkstones are used for daylight saving time and the grey stones for standard time.
Because of our climate, this unusual sundial is buried under snow during the winter, from late November through late March ! (But our wall sundials still work well, on sunny days, in the winter).
Douglas Hunt at www.sunclocks.com in Scotland can provide the correct dimensions for the layout of a human sundial based on your latitude and longitude on the earth. Apparently these designs are very popular with schools, where the centre board and numbers can be set out on the playground.
Animated windup alarm clocks were made in the early/mid 20th century by various companies in many countries, including Canada, the United States, Great Britain, France, and Brazil. These animated clocks were originally sold for use by children, but have become very collectible by "kids of all ages" today. Some early rare models are worth hundreds of dollars.
The museum has a small collection with representative examples from the major manufacturers: Westclox (Peterborough), Ingraham Canadian (Toronto), Smiths (England), Lux (United States), and Sturm (Brazil, probably in the Westclox factory there). We are still looking for affordable examples of animated alarm clocks made by Bayard (France, some via Disney characters license), Ingersoll (United States), and Waterbury (United States).
NOTE that the EARLY BIRD, PIXIE, and WOODY's CAFE were unbranded Westclox models in Canada. You will see MADE IN CANADA on the dials but you will not find the Westclox name on the dials or cases. Some of these pictures were taken by 2008 summer student Michelle, then edited and put on the web site by 2009 summer student Megan. Several pictures were upgraded when new models acquired over the past five years were added to this online collection in March 2015. Allan.
Click on one of these images to pull up the complete set of animated alarm clocks.
There were many models of advertising clocks produced for the Canadian market, starting as early as the 1920s for clocks with electric motors. Most companies were located in Ontario and Quebec. Our museum's collection currently holds more than eighty examples that promote brand-name soft drinks, beer, service station products, mattresses, bicycles, and cigarettes. Most of these are shown in this Gallery.
Note that the square Raybestos "Brake Service for Safety" clock uses a windup pendulum movement made by The Arthur Pequegnat Clock Company in the 1920s/30s. Most examples seen with this colourful dial had an electric motor. Presumably the windup version was available for service stations located in areas of rural Ontario that were not yet connected to the electricity grid back then.
Click on one of the images below to pull up the complete set.
The history of Arthur's company can be found in the Canadian Makers section of our web site.
Our museum has an almost complete set of the roughly ninety catalogued models of mantel, wall, and grandfather clocks produced by The Arthur Pequegnat Clock Company in Berlin / 1916 / Kitchener, Ontario between 1904 and 1941. There are also some unusual examples in our Pequegnat collection.
In addition to pictures of the clocks, there are closeups of some typical movements, dials, and labels.
We welcome requests for information about YOUR Pequegnat clock.
The Snider Clock Corporationwas Harry Snider's first clock company, in operation in Toronto from 1950 to 1957. The Snider Clock Mfg Companyproduced clocks from 1957 to 1976. The CANADIAN MAKERS section of our web site has details about the history of these two companies.
Our unique museum received a small Community Memories contract from Heritage Canada in 2007 to research and tell the Snider clocks story. The project was completed with the assistance of Michael Snider and summer student Megan Morris. The results can be found in the Community Memories section of the Virtual Museum of Canada web site. The fastest route is to search on Google for "The House of Snider", including the quotation marks.
Here are pictures of most of the more than one hundred and seventy examples of mantel, TV lamp, and wall clocks in the museum's growing Snider collection. The dates in the captions are mostly estimates. New Snider clocks are acquired regularly through purchases on eBay, in antiques malls and flea markets, and by donation.
Note that the battery-operated movements available in the 1960s and early 1970s were NOT the quartz type that we know today. They were balance-wheel movements that received an electrical impulse from a large C or D cell flashlight battery. Typically they were enclosed inside a clear plastic box.
Most of the photographs were taken by summer student Megan Morris in 2007, then edited and added to the site by her in June 2009.
CLICK ON ONE OF THE FIVE PICTURES TO OPEN THE SET OF THUMBNAIL IMAGES. THEN CLICK ON ANY IMAGE TO ENLARGE IT AND SEE THE IMAGE CAPTION.