Canada Car and Foundry Part 1: The Birth of a Giant
In 1941 a competition was held in the US to decide which company should build the US Air Force’s new fleet of heavy lift bombers. Among the competitors there were two notables – Boeing and Canada Car & Foundry. We all know about Boeing but who was this Canada Car & Foundry and what qualified them to build a state-of-the-art bomber?Canada Car & Foundry (CC&F) was established in 1909 in Montreal. The firm was the result of an amalgamation of three other companies. Rhodes Curry Co. of Amherst, N.S., Canada Car Co. of Turcot, Quebec and Dominion Car & Foundry Co. also of Montreal.Nathaniel Curry, founder of Rhodes Curry Co, became the first President of the newly minted CC&F. In his inaugural address about the new company, he laid out the history, technical and manufacturing strength and financial position of CC&F.
“The Dominion Car & Foundry Co. is located at Montreal. Its works were erected less than three years ago, and are equipped with the most up-to-date machinery for the construction of steel cars; also for the manufacture of bolsters, brake beams and other railway specialties.”The Canada Car Co. is located about a mile from the Dominion Car & Foundry Co. This plant was erected less than five years ago, and is equipped with the most up-to-date machinery for the manufacture of wood passenger and freight cars, including wheel foundry, grey iron foundry, forging shops and machine shops.
“The Rhodes Curry Co. plant is located at Amherst, N.S., the geographical centre of the Maritime provinces. This plant started the manufacture of cars in a small way 17 years ago, but has grown to be a large concern. It is equipped for the manufacture of wood passenger and freight cars with a wheel foundry, grey iron foundry, forging and machine shops; also rolling mills, malleable iron foundry and axle shop.
“This company also owns 20,000 acres of timber lands, and operates saw mills and planing mills with branches at Halifax and Sydney.
“The Dominion Car & Foundry Co. has a capacity of 30 steel freight cars a day, and capacity for the manufacture of bolsters, brake beams, and other specialties for 100 cars per day.
“The Canada Car Co. has a capacity for the manufacture of 100 passenger cars a year, and 25 freight cars a day.
“The Rhodes Curry Co. has a capacity for the manufacture of 60 passenger cars a year and 20 freight cars per day. Rolling mill capacity, 20 tons per day of bar iron and steel. Axle shop capacity 200 axles per day. Malleable iron foundry, 20 tons of finished malleable castings a day.
“The present capacity of these combined works is enough to take care of the Canadian railways for several years to come. The combined capacity of all other car companies in Canada is probably not over 100 cars a day.
“The net earnings of these three companies for the past two years have averaged $1,000,000 per year. This period has been a very dull one for car builders, and business was obtained under keen competition, with plants running at only half capacity. The savings in buying, selling, freight, administration and manufacture with these three concerns combined should add at least 40% to the net earnings without charging any more for the output. In my opinion the replacement value of these properties is over $7,500,000.”
Nathaniel Curry, 1909
CC&F was efficient and profitable from day one. In 1911, the Board of Directors recognized that it would improve their efficiency if they started to produce their own steel castings, a part that was becoming common to all their products. They purchased Montreal Steel Works Limited at Longue Pointe, Quebec, the largest producer of steel castings in Canada, and the Ontario Iron & Steel Co., Ltd. at Welland, Ontario, both a steel foundry and a rolling mill.
The cash continued to roll in.
A few years later CC&F acquired the assets of Pratt and Letchworth, a Brantford, Ontario, rail car manufacturer. In the latter timeframe of WWI, the expanding company opened a new plant in Fort William (now Thunder Bay) to manufacture rail cars and ships.
Canada Car and Foundry Company Part 2: Queen of the Hurricanes
Canada Car and Foundry Company Part 3: The Airplane That Flew… But Never Took Off
Canada Car and Foundry Company Part 4: The Bomber That Could Have Been