ADMS 1010 Chapter Notes -Hart Massey, Cobourg, Corn Laws

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Published on 12 Apr 2013
Canada’s First Great Manufacturing Enterprise: The Story of Massey-Harris
Massey’s Entrepreneurial Roots (1802–67)
Daniel Massey, Sr
- emigrated from New York State with his wife Rebecca and their children and settled near Cobourg, a
small port town on Lake Ontario
- brute strength needed to cut down hardwood trees, uproot stumps, and remove rocks and boulders;
burned the trees he cut down since there was no market for them
- bet their futures on farming
Daniel Jr Spots Opportunity
Daniel Jr.
- recognized opportunity in clearing land as a profitable venture in 1817
o population was growing quickly in Upper Canada, which increased the demand for virgin pine
and other wood in the forests around Cobourg
o arrival of men from Ireland and Scotland were looking for immediate work
- at nineteen left the family farm, rented nearby land, hired labourers at times he employed as many as
100 men and cleared it, selling the trees at enough profit to buy the land which he then farmed until he
found a buyer
- clear-sighted enough to realize that change was coming, that the market for his trees was declining as
was the number of land buyers
- 12 years and 1,200 acres of cleared land after, became full-time farmer, taking a keen interest in the
labour-saving tools that the budding industrial revolution was beginning to generate implements that
he knew could bring vast change to a world that still relied on obsolete farming tools
- decided to import the American thresher, a machine that was operated by twelve men and used to
separate grain from husks to help with the wheat harvest - did not produce the results Daniel Jr had
hoped for
- perfected his skills as a machinist, fixing equipment and outfitting his neighbours with tools he made or
The Launch of the Newcastle Foundry and Machine Manufactory Company
Daniel Jr.
- in 1847, sold the farm to his son Hart and bought a nearby foundry that had gone bankrupt, which
allowed for the launching of a new farm-implements-making firm, one that could count on Daniel Jr’s
experience along with some help from a new tariff regime imposed by the government of Upper Canada
on all imported farm machinery, a move inspired less by protectionist ideals than by the dire need of the
government to raise revenues
o during this time, there was an influx of impoverished immigrants to the New World seeking
relief and a better life due to crop failure, economic hardship, and famine in Europe, especially
o in Britain, lawmakers were embroiled in a fundamental debate about that country’s Corn Laws,
tariffs on wheat that were designed primarily to give protection to British growers and members
of the British Empire over foreign countries such as the United States and Germany
o Canadian wheat producers generally benefited from British protection against American growers
until 1831, when the British government removed all tariffs on U.S. wheat shipped using the St
o When extensive crop failures that hit Britain in 1845 and price exacted on Britons’ living
standards proved more than most were willing to bear to protect British and colonial farmers, the
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tide against the Corn Laws grew
o British government finally repealed Corn Laws in 1846, leaving farmers in the Province of
Canada to compete on the merits of their wheat and its price against Americans and the whole-
wheat producing world
- foundry was moved to Newcastle and the firm named the Newcastle Foundry and Machine Manufactory
Company 2 years after
- new company supplied the modest but expanding market for farm implements by buying manufacturing
licences for equipment designed in the United States that, if made south of the border and imported,
would have faced a tariff
- limited capital expense to process innovation to increase efficiencies in production, rather than spending
precious money on research
- made some modest improvements to the American-designed machinery so it would better suit Canadian
conditions, a strategy that proved enough for the company to secure its footing in a market that was sure
to become more competitive in time as farmers looked for ever more efficient ways to grow, harvest,
and transport crops
A New Generation
- abandoned farming and took full ownership of the foundry as his father’s health faltered
- renamed the company H.A. Massey and Company, in recognition of the new leader
- hard working, hands-on manager who was pious and frowned upon all liquor
- displayed many of his father’s characteristics, such as a commitment to hard work, but he would put his
own stamp on the firm’s management, bringing to bear the formal education his father lacked and a new
salesmanship born of his own self-confidence
- proved more of a risk taker
- constantly seeking the latest machinery to import and, in so doing, pre-empted his competitors
- oversaw improvements to tailor the imported designs to suit the needs of Canadian farmers and worked
to ensure that his firm developed a reputation not only for innovation but also for excellence and quality
- first to bring to Canada the Manny Combined Hand Rake Reaper Mower, a machine that combined the
revolutionary Ketchum mower and the Burrell reaper
- around the time of his ascent, significant events took place that made agriculture more attractive
o Cobourg was linked by rail to Montreal and Toronto via the Grand Trunk Railway, giving the
Massey firm a more reliable means to transport its wares to dealers and its own supplies to its
Newcastle factory gave them advantage as they tried to keep at bay a new rival, the Harris
Company of Brantford, Ontario, that entered the field in 1857
o development in 1842 of Red Fife, a hardy variety of wheat suited to Canada’s climate by
Scottish immigrant David Fife and its wide use by the 1850s made farming more profitable and
helped expand the market for Hart’s wares
o New Brunswick was the first of the colonies to launch meetings in 1849 about negotiating a trade
pact with the Americans. By 1850, limited reciprocity was in effect between the United States
and New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. Four years later, a much broader
reciprocity deal included the Province of Canada
Scarcity of Labour
- farmers had more incentive to use capital to purchase productivity-enhancing equipment
- labour shortages due in part to the manpower needs of rail construction and a reflection of the vastness
of the land and its small population created a need for labour-saving equipment
- flurry of activity in the production of farming implements, with most of the innovation originating in the
United States, was spurred by
o the need to save on labour: land was abundant and labour scarce in North America, so farmers
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