Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Plane makers of Roxton Pond Part 2 Stanley Tools of Canada

In the first part, we looked at the pioneers plane makers who started the tradition in Roxton Pond.
Early in the 20th century, a fire and an unexpected auction outcome with a visionary clergyman possessing knowledge of tool making will combine into the creation of the...Stanley Tool Canada factory.


William Stephen Bullock was born in Aug 1865 in Roxton Pond, son of William Henry Bullock, farmer, who was of Loyalist ancestry and Hanna Chartier (father Anglophone, mother Francophone).
He was the eldest child of 5 other siblings.

His Loyalist ancestor first established themselves in the township of Stanstead before moving to Abbotsford Qc around 1800.
But his grandfather, who lost a leg in a accident and was affected badly from asthma, happened to go to Roxton Pond on business and discovered that the ambient air was better for his asthma.
He sold his farm and moved the family to Roxton Pond. He would passed away 10 years later but his son (father of Stephen) would stay. 
It just so happened that they settled in a mostly francophone part of the town and between his mother side and the neighbourhood, Stephen becomes fluently bilingual at a young age. This will served him well during his political career.
The neighbourhood hamlets of Milton and Roxton Pond South were mostly Anglophones but that will gradually change with the arrivals of more Francophones starting in the middle 19th century.

Stephen Bullock at a young age

His father had a large undeveloped plot of 400 acres and was clearing the land (defricher) slowly in order to farm it (cultiver)
During Stephen early years, only about 10% of the lot was cleared. As a young man, Stephen would toil the land and tend to the livestocks.

In his youth some of his accomplishments foretell his future.
He performs solemn bird's burial rituals with his younger siblings (he would later become a Baptist minister)
He built a dam and a working miniature mill on a nearby creek and he also,
lays out about 1000 ft (300 M) of wooden tracks to run his miniature train. (He would become a toolmaker on a grand scale and dream of owning a railroad)
At 13, he start to show an interest in politics by following the 1878 electoral campaign. (He would be running in the 1912 election as a Liberal for the Township of Sheffield and be re-elected again and again)

At 15, on a whim, he decided he had enough of farm work and left unannounced to the States in order to seek work in a tool factory. The knowledge and experiences he gained would comes in handy later on.

At his father request, being old and unable to run the farm without him, Stephen comes back home.  He would be farming and clearing more land on his father farm until 1884, by then about three quarter (3/4) of the land had been cleared.

Stephen Bullock as a young man. Age unknown

At 19 he decided he wants to becomes a clergy minister.  He goes to Institut Feller and at 20 he is baptised.  After two (2) more years of study he volunteer in missionary works and his sent wherever he his most needed. 1887 we find him at McGill University in Montreal Qc studying to become a teacher.  Sickness will cut short his studies but he finds work as a minister in Quebec.
In his travel, working on fund raising to rebuilt a school,  he meet a group of business men in Toronto, who over a week, discussed with him matters of running a business and the problems of raising proper capitals.  He would later says this is how he learned how to run a business an deal with banks.

After some more studies at the Newton Theology Center, near Boston MA, he would marry in a Baptist church in Montreal Qc, Ellen-Evangeline Therrien (1869-1953) daughter of Pastor Alphonse de Liguori Therrien.
Back in Boston, their first child was born in Boston MA, he graduated with his diploma in 1891.
Following a post in Ottawa On and in Maskinonge Qc, he return to his natal Roxton Pond in 1897 as their Baptist Pastor. Upon his arrival, he would find the church, the presbytery, cemetary and the local school in disrepair.

He was paid $700 a year as the town Pastor (A lot of money in those days!) Having woodworking skills and smart business senses, he proceeded to fix up the buildings and to fenced in the church property.

The pastor Bullock with his family in 1906.
His new fence is showing
Fonds Valere Audy; Photo Granby Leader Mail, SHHY

Then, relying on past experiences on his father's farm, he set up maple syrup production using the 300 maples trees on the church grounds and built a sugar shack.
He wanted to expand production by buying the lot next door for sale at $500, but he did not had the funds. He got the funds from the Parish. He then cleared some of the land (12 acres) on this lot for resale to a member of the community in order to raise the funds to finance his enterprise.
The remaining trees on that lot gave him 12,000 more maple trees to greatly expand his maple syrup production.
While remaining their Pastor, he continued to prosper his growing ministry by the profits generated from the maple syrup production. He build what was for a time, the largest sugar shack in Quebec's maple syrup country, a 10 X 15 Meters shack.
In 1903 he bought a farm with 90 acres, of which 40 acres had 3000 mature sugar maples trees on it.
He now had a sugar maple field (erabliere) in the East and at the West of the village.
Combining both, he started marketing his sugar maple products outside the region, there is only a limited market locally, being lots of local producers.
He concocted a scheme to send 8 train cars full of his maple products to Winnipeg Mb. The Bank of Granby lend him $10,000 (about $200,000 today) and he made $2,100 profit on this enterprise.
This independent business would carry on for about 20 years before being merged (sold) to the United Maple Producers Association of Quebec in nearby Granby in 1921. At the time this association was handling over 12 millions gallons of maple syrup a year.  The Pastor was a good business man.

The stage is now set with the main actor...

Picture of Stephen Bullock, the Provincial elected representative
(depute du comte de Sheffield) 


In the early 1900 the hydraulic power from the lake (Roxton Pond) was providing electrical power to the town (street light), the Sem Dalpe's factory, which had been passed on to A Monty and the SF Willard factory which was now closed. The Flour mill (of Louis Bachand) on Joseph Bousquet lot, which was powering the lights was damaged or burn down in 1904 and the property of Joseph Bousquet was sold at auction.
Bullock was attending the auction, and wanting to help the land owner get a better price, overbid by $200 the last bidder, hoping to raise more money for him. It backfired on him and he won the auction for $7,200.

This sale included:
Numerous land lots, including those bordering the lake, right of ways, mill and other constructions and dwellings.  Also included were the electrical dynamo that was permanently attached to the flour mill, and all the machineries. All the utility poles and wiring in the village to bring light to the house and business. Joseph Bousquet was the one who carried out the electrification of the village from 1902-04.
A grain hangar located on property of the Canadian National Railway in Roxton Pond south was also included.

He was not intended on winning the auction, nor did he had the money to buy it.
It was thanks to a $7,300 loan from the Baptism Mission de la grande ligne that he made good on his auction win.

Now what to do with it??
After a month travelling in Canada, looking for a project for his new property, he concluded that what was needed was a modern woodworking tool factory which could also handle working metal parts and not just wood, in order to manufacture the new metal planes (Bailey). He had the water power, the electric lights, a large qualified manpower in town, all he needed was more money.

What's in a name??
The Roxton Pond Tool & Mill Company reflect the purpose of the company, to make tool, here in Roxton Pond and also to keep the mill running which provides electrical light to the whole village.

With backing from bank and friends who believed in him, he started by building a 16 ft dam to regularise the water flow and increase the power for his new factory to be built.

The two (2) story factory, built of wood was started in 1904 at an estimated cost of $40,000
The Granby branch of the Eastern Township Bank and private investors, raised the $40,000 required.
Once built, he went to Toronto and Montreal to buy the machine tools and equipment that would be needed. Thanks to additional help from HC Miner of Granby (A well known and rich local businessman) who lend him another $40,000 and after going around the province to get more private investments from friends, he managed to raise another $40,000. By now he had enough money to meet his banks obligations and start to get the factory running.

The Roxton Pond Tool & Mill Co around 1904

About 1905, the first planes are made and the training of the work force, which numbered 40, has started. In 1906 a metal foundry is added, they can now cast their own metallic tools and parts.
Their first metallic plane look a lot like the Siegley SSS planes (made by Stanley) and their wooden planes transitional planes resembled the Bailey models (also made by Stanley)

The 42 in Diameter wooden penstock built by
the workers of the Roxton Pond Tool & Mill Co.
This new penstock in combination with the newly built dam,
would provide more constant
flow and increased power over the natural river.

The known imprints of the Roxton Pond Tool & Mill Co.
The No 35 shown above would had been a transitional No 35 (same as Bailey No 35)
I do not know (yet) how the metallic plane were identified.
Pic from my copy of Guide to Canadian Plane Makers & Hardware Dealers

His new company would be incorporated. HC Miner is the president, Bullock is the Secretary-Treasurer. Importance oblige, he becomes a member of the municipal council, position he will keep until Jan 1914. He ran in the 1912 provincial election as a Liberal and was elected for the township of Sheffield.  He would be re-elected again in 1916, 1919, 1923, 1927.
He has the distinction of being the first non Catholic candidate elected by a majority of Roman Catholic Francophone population in Quebec. His fluency in both official language, and personal knowledge of both cultures will served him well.
Then from 1931 until his death in 1936 he would serve in the Provincial cabinet in Quebec

Between his new business and his political duties, he tried to relinquish his pastoral duties earlier, but the parishioners did not want him to go. In Oct 1907 they finally accepted his demission as their pastor, but he never forgot about his parishioners.


In a bid to get better access to the Canadian market which was in full expansion, Stanley decided to open a factory in Quebec. Why Quebec? It is not far in a straight line from New Britain Connecticut!
In prevision, they incorporated in Canada on the 7th Feb 1907 under the name Stanley Tool Company of Canada Limited.

In the Spring of 1907, Bullock heard rumours of the Stanley Rule & Level looking at setting up shop in Lachine Qc (Montreal). Instead of competing with Stanley, both HC Miner and Bullock, would rather invited them to set up shop here in Roxton Pond in their new factory.
At their invitation, the president of Stanley and two (2) other executives of the company came to Roxton Pond in June 1907 and a deal was struck.

Some of the considering factors for Stanley was the reputation of Roxton Pond as plane makers, a workforce that were currently making clones of their planes, hence familiar with their products and easy access to the market.

Stanley would buy the industrial installations of Bullock for $59,924, of this $5,000 goes to Bullock and $39,000 goes to the Eastern Township bank to repay the original loan. The remainders distributed to various creditors.
HC Miner and Bullock would be running the new business, the Canadian branch of Stanley, and Stanley would also buy back for a "very advantageous" price, the private investor's share in Bullock enterprise.

Instead of making use of the newly built wooden factory, Stanley opted to built a new stone masonry building to meet its industrial standard... and no doubt be easier to insure!
Starting in Jul 1907 the building No 1 would be built and railroads cars loads would then came from New Britain Connecticut with Stanley's machinery, equipment, molds, parts personnel etc.

The newly built Stanley plant in a 1908 view.
Building No 1 (main building 1907) to the Right, No 2 (woodworking shop 1908) to the Left
Note the utility poles and wiring for the electric lights in town,
now being furnished by the Stanley plant

The 50 or so first employees of Stanley Tool Canada.
in 1910.  Note the number of young boy up front.

and their salaries in 1911

The two factories: Roxton Pond Tool & Mill Co and the new Stanley plant, will continued to operate together until the early 1920s.  Stanley will continue producing tools made at the old plant. They would first used up the existing inventory at time of purchase, which means for a time they were selling both the metallic plane of Roxton Pond (clones of Stanley's Bailey planes) and the Stanley models.

In this collection of tools made in Roxton Pond, the rabbet plane (roughly in the middle)
has what look like a Stanley sticker or decals on it. I do not know if this is original, but if so, it would had been made at the Roxton Pond Tool & Mill Co. The others tools shown are from Dalpe, Monty and Willard 

About one year and a half ago I came across this piece of paper inside an early  Stanley Canada tool from the Stanley plant explaining who made what
Story of this find here

Pics from my collection

The label on the box still has the American address, but there is a small sticker glued on top saying Made in Canada. The enclosed sheet of paper reads;

This tool was made at the Canadian branch of the Stanley Rule & Level Company at the Roxton Pond Tool & Mill Company limited, Roxton Pond, Quebec, under the superintendence, ownership and trademarks of the said STANLEY COMPANY, and is fully warranted.

Later boxes will of course had the Roxton Pond address printed

Pic from my collection

This means that for a time, the A Monty, the Roxton Pond Tool & Mill Co and the new Stanley plant will co -existed in close quarters.  The Roxton Pond Tool & Mill Co would probably be demolished in the early 20s to make room for the 1924 expansion which saw Bldg No 14 addition to Bldg No 1.

In this 1946 view you can see the original Dalpe, now Monty (closed) factory
To the bottom left of the Stanley plant, at the base of the triangular roads, by the water.
It's the rectangular building. As usual click the pic to make them full size.

I half jokingly said earlier that Stanley decided to build a stone building over setting up inside the existing new wood structure in place, in order to find cheaper insurance :-)
But as you can see the original wooden factory build by Bullock did not go to waste.

Back in the days, and probably still so today, big business had to carry fire insurance. In order to be approved such coverage,  they drew detailed plans of the existing installations and made notes of the surrounding, detail of some of the water arrangements, pressure, quantity available, GPM, for sprinkler and etc.
Also the general disposition of the various sections involved in the manufacturing of the products (in this case, Stanley tools).

All that to say, thanks to such records, preserved in the archive of the Town of Roxton Pond, we can gain a detailed picture of the installations. Said records would be updated thru the years after every addition, removal of structures, etc.
The one shown here is the 1930 records.  From this date the facility would remain pretty well the same until the new building built besides it in 1966

The general views of the 1930 Fire Insurance plan.
Details below

The main road running parallel to the building, Milton road, would later be renamed to,
and is still to this day, Stanley Road. The "drive", from the water penstock is clearly shown:
A 1000 US Gal McDougall centrifugal pump providing a 100 pounds of pressure at 1140 RPMs.
The water turbine drive has a 10-27 ft of head and a surge tank at the entrance to the Bldg No 9 house. You can see water lines from this pumping station to the buildings, that's for the sprinkler system. This building No 9 Wheel house, also contain the electrical generator, there is a 3.5KVA transformer on poles besides it. The original electrical generator would had been located on the flour mill which was to the right of the plant

This is the original plan of where it all started with Sem Dalpe and SW Willard.
In red the Stanley plan location, in blue the approximate locations of Dalpe and Willard factory.
They both used the water power from the river.
The flour mill of Louis Bachand is showing bottom right
That water source from the lake, is the only reason, they all established themselves in the same area.
On the fire plan it does mention the location of a saw mill 300ft to the left (of red square)
That would be the saw mill associated with the old A Monty factory, which remains until 1965)

These perspectives and elevations views shows the usage of the buildings
and main elevation differences of the installation.
The pile in the middle of the yard, is the coal used by the forge for their castings and to feed a steam engine which seems to be used for the drying kiln besides

The original wooden water tower was replaced in 1930 by a metal one,
hence the 1930 revised plans.
Bldg No 14 addition to the Bldg No 1, has the forge at the bottom of it, with machine shops, and a lacquer dipping place. Yes, saws handles, planes totes and front knob, were lacquer dipped

This 1912 view shows the original wooden water tower

The 1930 metal water tower was removed in 1985, one year after the factory closure.

By 1921, the Stanley Tool of Canada was producing about 84% of the complete Stanley USA offerings, including the infamous Nos 45 and 55 plane contraptions (combination planes)

In 1924 Bldg No 14 was added to Bldg No 1 

The building in 1924, with the new addition.
Notice also the wooden covered passage way to Building No 2 on the ground floor.
There always was an upper covered passageway between the second floors 

In this 1980 picture, view from Stanley Road, the fire wall between both
No 1 and No 14 Bldgs is clearly seen. Roughly halfway between two utility poles

There are very few views of the inside of the building but thanks to a study done in 2013 on the state of the building by an engineering firm, Patri-Arch, we can get a glimpse of the structure inside.

One of the rare view inside the Stanley Tool Canada plant in 1950
The ducting is removing the swarf generated by the grinders/polishers.
We know from the fire plan, that grinding and polishing was done inside Bldg No 1
in the basement (the partial bottom 3rd floor), near the expansion of Bldg No 14
The 1911 list of workers, shows 4 polishers and one grinders. There are 6 work stations on this pic

The open spaces between the supports wooden columns
Page extracted from the Patri-Arch study
Notice the metal H beams supporting the new addition (Bldg No 14) in 1924

That initial workforce of 50 would remains fairly constant at 45-50, until 1930.
In 1942, during WWII, the workforce would increased to 103, which included: nine (9) women and a dozen (12) sales or representatives persons. The workforce itself is about eighty (80)

In 1953 the workforce would unionize under International Machinists Association, local 909, they will go on strike twice (2) first in Aug  1971, last in June 1974

In 1960 the repatriation of sales activity in Montreal to Roxton Pond, would increase the number of personnel, but not in the workforce, which remains around 50. The increase is due to the number of female emloyees which would number 30 in 1965.

By the 1960s the 50 plus years old installations are becoming badly obsolete and a new plant would be build in 1966. This would be the final expansion before the plant closed for good  in 1984. There would be an enclosed walkway between the old and the new building.

In this recent overhead shot from Google Maps, the new structure is the gray roof square building besides the old No 1 and 14 building with a green roof. The fire wall between both is also visible.
This new building is still in use by someone

During the strike of 1974, we learn that there are now 300 personnel employed, of which 258 are union. This represent the largest number of personnel recorded, by the time the factory would close in 1984, the workers would be back down to 50 or so.

After continuous operations since 1907, Stanley will invoke unfair competition from the Far east and close its door in 1984. By that time most of their hand tools operation had been switched over to England. The Bailey types planes are no longer manufactured in the US or Canada.

What is going to happen to the installations of the Stanley Tool of Canada?

Although stripped clean of all its machinery and equipment shortly after its closure,  except for a very brief period with Ranger Equipment (manufacturing safety helmets),  the plant has remained empty and in good condition all considered.

The Society Historique du Haut Yamaska (SHHY) has been trying for years to re-used the building and put in a tool museum telling the history of the Roxton Pond planemakers.
a few years back, in 2013, there was an assessment of the structures carried out by Patri-Arch on their behalf.

Shortly after, students of industrial architectures in Montreal were invited to come see and proposed different possible usage for the structure.

Nothing more seems to be happening since, I would suppose for a lack of funds.
It would be a shame to loose this important industrial complex from our recent past.


Except for the four (4) pictures identified as mine, all other came from the Societe d'Histoire de la Haute Yamaska (SHHY)  archives accessed on line.
The link to the building assessment and the students proposal for the building are copyrighted by their respective authors.

Assembled from various sources, but the vast majority of the information came from the work of SHHY members

Bob, the tool historian


  1. It would be interesting to know why the work force swelled to 300 and then fell back to 50.

  2. Well its a bit missleading, the 300 at its peak was the total workforce, the workers are the only ones making tools, remainders are office worker, etc So at the end in 1984, there were more than 50 in total


  3. Bob,

    As usual a good read.

    Most of the photos of the factory look as if it is pretty cold outside and why is the ground white :-)?


  4. Ken
    Its white beach sand...or somethin like that, but colder :-)

    Bob, where Spring has arrived and we are busy starting our gardens

  5. Very good read Bob! Glad the building(s) are still there.