Canadian Industries Limited

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Canadian Industries Limited, also known as C-I-L, is a Canadian chemicals manufacturer. Products include paints, fertilizers and pesticides, and explosives. It was formed in 1910 by the merger of five Canadian explosives companies. It was until recently a subsidiary of Imperial Chemical Industries until ICI was purchased by AkzoNobel.


Hamilton Powder Company[edit]

The oldest direct ancestor of what would become CIL originally started in 1862, then known as the Hamilton Powder Company. They were created to buy the assets of the former Canada Powder Company, which had formed in 1852. Their major product was black powder, used for blasting. In 1878 the company was purchased by Dr. Thomas C. Brainerd, a U.S. businessman in the black powder industry. In order to provide the massive amounts of explosives needed to build the Canadian Pacific Railway, a new dynamite factory was opened in McMasterville, Quebec. Other black powder plants were acquired in Quebec and the Maritimes and, in 1890, the company opened the first explosives plant in the far west, near Nanaimo, British Columbia. Another major ancestor was the Dominion Cartridge Company, started at Brownsburg, Quebec (just west of Montreal) in 1886 by Captain A. L. ("Gat") Howard, who introduced the Gatling gun into Canada and operated a battery of two of the new weapons during the Riel Rebellion.

Canadian Explosives Company[edit]

In 1910 Hamilton Powder and Dominion Cartridge merged with the Acadia Powder Company, Ontario Powder Company, Standard Explosives Company, Western Explosives Company and Victoria Chemical Company to form the Canadian Explosives Company (CXL). This was a major supplier to the Canadian Expeditionary Force during World War I, which led to the building of a new factory in the newly christened Nobel, Ontario in 1914. CXL also operated another plant across the highway on behalf of British Cordite Limited. All of the Nobel plants closed after the war in 1922, when secondary markets were not forthcoming. Then all was lost in a huge fire in 1923.

Canadian Explosives Limited[edit]

During the 1920s they diversified into paint and varnish, coated fabrics and plastics and changed their name in 1927 to Canadian Explosives Ltd. (CEL). In 1928 they re-opened the Nobel plants and acquired the Dominion Cartridge Company. In 1929 CEL merged with the Canadian Salt Co. Ltd. (CSXX), Grasselli Chemical Co. Ltd. (Grasselli), and Mond Nickel Co. (MNX) and changed their name to Canadian Industries Ltd.[1]

World War II[edit]

With the approach of World War II, the company formed a subsidiary in September 1939 called Defence Industries Limited. Cartridge plants were opened on Park Avenue in Brownsville, Montreal, Quebec with government funding and the technical assistance of the Dominion Cartridge Company. A cannon shell factory (and the entire nearby town itself) was built at Ajax, Ontario (nicknamed "Dilville"). They opened new plants on the site formerly used by British Cordite in Nobel. The Nobel site employed 4,300 people at its peak, and the company as a whole employed 33,000.

Post war[edit]

A great post-war building program geared C-I-L to meet peacetime needs for explosives, paints, agricultural and industrial chemicals, plastics, sporting ammunition and man-made textile fabrics. The Nobel plants were once again closed, and this time sold off to Orenda Aerospace for use in jet engine development.

In 1913 the predecessor of CXL had established a dynamite plant on James Island, B.C. off the coast of Vancouver Island and near the town of Sidney, B.C. The plant was later reacquired by CIL and produced explosives until its closure in 1972.


In 1954 C-I-L was divided into two separate companies in accordance with the ruling of a U.S. court which had ordered E. I. du Pont de Nemours (today's DuPont) to end its joint interests with Imperial Chemical Industries Limited (ICI). C-I-L operates as part of Imperial Chemical Industries to this day. Brands produced by C-I-L include ICI Paints, Dulux and Glidden Paints.

In 1976 Industries Valcartier Inc. bought out CIL's commercial cartridge production.

Another of their manufacturing facilities was formerly located in Millhaven west of Kingston, Ontario.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ CANADIAN FREIGHT CARS Canadian Industries Ltd. (1929-1954)

External links[edit]