May 5, 2011

Guelph Stove Company and Genealogy

Not only am I a passionate and obsessed genealogist, I'm also an avid collector of antiques. Recently I purchased a ca 1920s antique wood-burning cook stove made by the Guelph Stove Company in Guelph Ontario.

Because I always like to know more about the antiques I collect, I had a hunt online for information on the Guelph Stove Company. There isn't much to be found! Artefacts Canada had some information but not as much detail as I wanted.

Finally I found the Guelph Civic Museum and sent an email to the assistant curator. She responded very quickly and provided me with more detail.   I learned from her email that I can also make an appointment with her to see the photos and other records they have on the Company.  I'm hoping to get to Guelph in June and will visit the Museum at that time.

The Guelph Stove Company began in 1897 as the Guelph Foundry Company and was incorporated as the Guelph Stove Company in 1904. According to Artefacts Canada, the initial owners were Dr. Reid, Mr. Frank Nunan, Mr. Christian Kloepfer, Mr. Joseph Brown and Professor Doherty.

The early products were the Idea steel stoves and ranges, and the Kelly hot air and combination furnaces. In 1908, the T. Eaton's Company began to purchase stoves from the Guelph company.

In 1919, Eatons purchased the company. Ontario Archives holds many of the original ledgers and documents from the Guelph Stove Company, all of which can be viewed on site in Toronto Ontario. They are part of the T. Eaton Co. fonds.

The company was located on Paisley from 1897 until about 1929.  The original building was located just west of Norfolk and on the south side of the street and is probably where the parking lot for the plaza (with Simply Wonderful and Market Fresh) is now. In 1929 the company built a brand new plant at the corner of York Road and Victoria Road.

The company was sold in 1964 to the Studebaker Company. Studebaker sold the company to White Consolidated Co. in 1968 and they no longer manufactured stoves.

What is my interest in this Guelph Stove Company cook stove, other than as a collectible antique? Both my parents were born in Guelph. My mother's ancestry in Guelph is fairly recent, going back to 1914. But my father's ancestry in Guelph dates back on his paternal and maternal lineage to around 1860.  Many of my ancestors and their siblings of every generation worked in Guelph factories. They lived in Guelph and of course, used woodstoves for both heat and for cooking.

There is every chance that one of my ancestors (or a sibling) used a Guelph Stove Company stove. Thinking romantically there is a good chance one of them used the actual stove I now own. One of them may have worked at the Company or lived nearby or socialized with men who worked there.  This kind of history fascinates me. I call it social history - what were my ancestors doing in certain time periods or specific years, where were they living and working? What appliances did they have in their homes?

I wish I knew more details than I do but I can at least find out what their lives might have been like, what they might have incorporated into their daily lives, and so on.  I like to imagine my grandmother McGinnis standing at a stove very much like this one, in her home on Water Street in Guelph after WW1, cooking the family dinner. With six sons she had a lot of hungry mouths to feed!

9 comments:

Lisa Wallen Logsdon said...

My sister-in-law baked cakes regularly in a similar oven (she refused to have any modern appliances in her old house). Her oven had one temperature setting - 500 degrees! She baked beautiful cakes though and she said she just checked them with toothpicks from time to time. Heck, I have trouble baking cakes in my modern oven!

Ginger Smith said...

You brought up some interesting thoughts about how your family might have used this kind of stove, or maybe even this stove in particular, or how they might have interacted with workers from the stove company or even worked there themselves. This is a great example of how seeing a *Physical* piece of history like this can help us envision our ancestors in their own surroundings and how they might have lived their life and who they might have interacted with. Thanks so much for sharing!

Kristin said...

I had a wood stove for about 5 years. It was more modern then this one, there was an electric stove on one side and wood burning on the other. I baked bread and it always came out fine. It was wonderful for winters too and I dried many diapers strung across the kitchen on my winter clothesline.

Do you plan to cook with it sometimes?

Your Growing Tree said...

I love it! What a great find and I agree with Ginger....it makes their lives more real in a way :)

Keep Smilin
Jenn

Cheryl Campbell said...

I purchased a home in Seton Portage B.C. last year, and was delighted to also aquire a Sulton Guelph Stove. It has the numbers 4531 stamped on it and is in excellent shape. My fiance cooks on it fairly regularly and hopefully that will increase. We just have to get into the habit of filling that wood stove instead of our living room stove. We heat by wood only here, so it makes sense to heat the kitchen first. I believe it is a little newer then yours but not much. We love it!

JJ Moneysauce said...

Thanks for this article. Very interesting. We have a Guelph of formerly indeterminate ancestry at our cabin. It seems likely it was an Eaton's catalogue order sometime in the 1920s or thereabouts. If I ever have time to kill in Toronto, I will try and look up the Eaton fonds for more information.

JJ Moneysauce said...

Thanks for this article. Very interesting. We have a Guelph of formerly indeterminate ancestry at our cabin. It seems likely it was an Eaton's catalogue order sometime in the 1920s or thereabouts. If I ever have time to kill in Toronto, I will try and look up the Eaton fonds for more information.

Anonymous said...

I have stumbled across a Guelph Stove Co Woodburning Stove. It has a warmer up top, 5 cooking spots and a vent for airflow? and of course an oven, left of the oven is a place for wood i am presuming? and a cast iron basin on the right side, perhaps a water basin?
It also has the Guelph Stove Co. emblem and bares the name Merit on it as well. It is in considerable condition. Where would i go to find out its value? I have a photo as well.
myndphunk@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

I have recently received a stove similar to that in your picture. Can you tell me how to find steep parts for it?

Mine is in rough shape and needs a restoration.

Thanks!