Fonds CLC - Canadian Locomotive Company Fonds

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Canadian Locomotive Company Fonds

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    CA ON00419 CLC

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    • 1865-1969 (Creation)
      Canadian Locomotive Company Limited

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    11,623 technical drawings and other material

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    Administrative history

    The Canadian Locomotive Company (CLC) was Canada's oldest, second largest, and second longest lasting locomotive-building company. It was originally known as the Ontario Foundry, established by John Counter and John Honeyman in Kingston, Ontario, circa 1848, and taken over by James Morton in 1854. The company was often referred to as the Kingston Locomotive Works. The company built its first five locomotives for the Grand Trunk Railway over the period 1854-1856. Morton died in 1864 and the company was sold to a group of prominent Montreal investors, who renamed it the Canadian Engine and Machinery Company in 1865. Following a reorganization in 1878, the name was changed to the Canadian Locomotive & Engine Company and the head office was moved to Montreal. However, in 1881 control of the Company was assumed by an influential group of Kingston politicians and businessmen, including William Harty, and it was once again reorganized and the head office returned to Kingston. A new two-story erecting shop was started and heavy machinery was updated. The success of the Company during this period attracted the famous Scottish firm of Dübs & Company, who purchased a controlling interest in 1887. Bankrupt in 1900, the Canadian Locomotive & Engine Company was purchased by former owner William Harty and a different group of partners in 1901, who then renamed it the Canadian Locomotive Company.

    For a short period from 1900 to 1904, aside from the railway companies themselves, CLC was the biggest builder of locomotives in Canada. This was the case despite the fact that the International Association of Machinists staged a strike in 1902 that was not effectively settled at CLC until 1906. Montreal Locomotive Works began to outproduce both CLC and the railway companies in 1905. CLC was sold to group of Canadian and British bankers headed by the Aemelius Jarvis in 1911, who started expanding and modernizing the Kingston plant in 1912 and re-named it the Canadian Locomotive Company, Limited. It continued under this name until 1965. The Company carried on with a surge of orders and produced munitions during the First World War. The Federation of Metal Workers went on strike in May 1919, but signed a new contract and were back at work in October of that year. Railway strikes in the United States during the early 1920s slowed production at CLC because they resulted in delays in receipt of raw material, but the Company returned to economic health after 1923. During this decade the company built the first mainline diesel electric locomotive in North America, the CNR 9000. CLC built 1386 steam locomotives for Canadian railways between 1900 and 1929, but with the onset of the Depression in the 1930s, production mostly shut down in Kingston. The Second World War created a surge in locomotive orders again and the Company produced munitions among other war efforts, such as, for example, the training of 100 Royal Canadian Navy boiler makers in CLC’s boiler shop. CLC averaged a production of 84 locomotives a year between 1943 and 1945. The Company was in a good position in the immediate Post-War period, having had sufficient locomotive orders during the war that its plant did not need large scale reconversion. A substantial interest in CLC was purchased by the Baldwin Locomotive Company in 1947. Outright control was purchased in 1950 by Fairbanks-Morse Canada, a subsidiary of the Fairbanks-Morse Company of the United States. While the North American market continued to transition to diesel locomotives, CLC’s participation in Canada’s part of the Colombo Plan for Co-operative Economic Development in South and Southeast Asia saw it build 120 WP 4-6-2 Pacific-type steam locomotives to the Indian Government between 1955 and 1956. Over the course of its existence, CLC built approximately 2709 steam locomotives, as well as a large number of diesel-electric and industrial locomotives, for both domestic and foreign markets.

    In 1955, CLC purchased the design assets of industrial locomotive maker Davenport-Bessler Company, which included design assets of the H.K. Porter Company. The company had built 328 diesel locomotives between 1929 and 1955, when diesel orders began to dry up. The company ultimately failed to make a successful transition from steam to diesel locomotive production. Its Fairbanks-Morse opposed-piston designs proved no match in the market place for locomotives built by the Montreal Locomotive Works (a division of the American Locomotive Company) and especially the General Motors Diesel Division located in London, Ontario. The name of the company was officially changed to Fairbanks Morse (Canada) Ltd. in 1965. Attempts were made to build a variety of other equipment, but a strike led to the closure of the plant in 1969. It was demolished in 1971.

    Custodial history

    Just prior to the demolition of the Canadian Locomotive Company (CLC) plant in 1971, National Science and Technology Museum Curator John Corby was alerted to the fact various parts of the CLC archives were being removed from the site and that some were actually being destroyed. Mr. Corby went to Kingston to salvage what he could, acquiring the contents of the Museum’s CLC collection, which included material from the H.K. Porter and Davenport Locomotive companies.

    Scope and content

    Fonds consists primarily of technical drawings and photographs related to the construction of locomotives by the Canadian Locomotive Company (CLC), the H.K. Porter Company, and the Davenport Locomotive Company. The Fonds has been arranged into four CLC series and two sous-fonds for Porter and Davenport company records.

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        Associated materials

        CLC archives can be found in the holdings at Queen’s University Archives, notably the Canadian Locomotive Company Heritage Society fonds (Fonds 3215) and the Canadian Locomotive Company fonds (F01733). University of Iowa Special Collections has a collection from the Bessler-Davenport Company (msc0081). The University of Pittsburgh has a H.K. Porter Co., Pittsburgh, Pa. Records collection (AIS.1973.15). Library and Archives Canada also has material on the H.K. Porter Company in its Andrew Audubon Merrilees fonds (102280). See Associated materials note in sous-fonds level description for Porter for greater detail.

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        General note

        Related Materials: Drawings from the Canadian Locomotive Company and H.K. Porter Company are also found in the Stewart/Merrilees Collection. The Canadian Pacific Steam Locomotive Drawing Collection contains drawings of numerous steam locomotives built by the Canadian Locomotive Company. The Craig Fonds contains several engineering drawings of Canadian Locomotive Company steam locomotives built for the Canadian National Railways. The Museum made copy negatives of many of the photographs from the fonds. The negatives were incorporated into the Science and Technology Railway (STR) Collection. The Fritz Lehmann Fonds includes a number of resources on CLC’s history.

        Physical description

        Fonds includes: ca. 11,623 technical drawings; ca. 3,281 photographs: b&w prints; ca. 792 photographs: acetate or polyester negatives; ca. 652 photographs: b&w glass negatives: ca. 262 photographs: b&w nitrate negatives; 8 metres of textual records (70 volumes); 4 photograph albums (ca. 960 photographs: b&w prints); ca. 62 advertising cards; and 1 scrapbook of news clippings.

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        Accession Numbers: PC5679, PD1203, PB2771, PD6560, XA0205, ZA0626.

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        Written by D. McGee, 2010; revisions and draft French translation, A. Torrance, 2021-12. French editing by Céline Mongeau, Larocque Linguistic Services, 2022-03. Revised CLC-1 series description and overall extent, A. Torrance, 2023-7.

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