John Inglis and Company
John Inglis and Company (now Whirlpool Canada) was a Canadian firm which made weapons for the United Kingdom and British Commonwealth military forces during the World War II era, then became a major appliance company.
The company traces its roots to John Inglis of Dundas, Ontario. On 27 July 1859 he and Thomas Mair formed Mair, Inglis and Evatt, a machine shop in Guelph, Ontario, producing machinery for grist and flour mills. In 1864 they added a steam engine to power the machines. Some time after 1864 Daniel Hunter replaced Thomas Mair and the name of the business was changed to Inglis and Hunter.
In September 1881, Inglis purchased a large triangular plot of land near downtown Toronto, west of Strachan Avenue. He moved the company there, renaming it John Inglis and Sons after five of his sons that worked in various departments. John Inglis died in 1898 and the business was taken over by one of his sons, William. In 1903, William led the company into the manufacture of marine steam engines and waterworks pumping engines, and he discontinued production of its previous milling product line. The company produced the engines for the Canada Steamship Lines Hamonic and Huronic, which served until 1950.
The company reincorporated in 1913 as the John Inglis Company Limited. During World War I the company turned out thousands of shells and shell forgings, and more than 40 steam marine engines for freighters. Among products manufactured in the 1920s were boilers, grain elevating and conveying machinery, hydraulic turbines, tugs, and reciprocating and centrifugal pumps.
The Great Depression seriously affected the company and led to major losses during the 1930s. When William died in 1935, the company went into receivership. The new Toronto Island Ferry was named after him shortly after his death.
In 1937 the company was purchased by Major J. E. Hahn of Toronto, owner of British Canadian Engineering Limited, who took on the name John Inglis and Company. In March 1938 the company won a contract with the British and Canadian governments to supply 5,000 Bren machine guns to Great Britain and 7,000 to Canada. Both countries shared the capital costs of creating a factory to produce them. Inglis started production in 1940; and the contracts were extended several times. By 1943 they were producing 60% of the Bren machine guns destined for the British Commonwealth forces, and 30% of the British Army's own requirements. They also produced a large proportion of the Polsten 20 mm autocannon for the British Commonwealth, as well as the Browning Hi-Power pistol for both the Commonwealth nations and other Canadian allies (primarily the Nationalist Chinese Army). They also produced the machinery for four Tribal class destroyers.
After the war, Inglis entered the consumer products business, producing fishing tackle, house trailers, oil burner pumps and domestic heaters and stoves. In 1946 they licensed production of a wringer washer being manufactured in the US by the Nineteen Hundred Corporation (now Whirlpool Corporation). A fully automatic washer was added in 1950, and the line continued to expand to include electric and gas dryers, and dishwashers.
Early in 1945 the company had acquired a controlling interest in the English Electric Company of Canada in St. Catharines, Ontario, which became a wholly owned subsidiary in 1947. In 1951 they completed a new plant in Scarborough, Ontario to produce the English Electric Yarrows-100 naval steam turbine under license for Canadian destroyers, including the St. Laurent-class and Restigouche-class. The plant was purchased by English Electric in 1955 and leased back to Inglis. Inglis later built a new addition to house the former St. Catharines works, which were shut down.
In 1962 Inglis purchased the Scarborough plant back from the English Electric. However, three years later they sold it off to General Electric Canada, and in 1966 sold off a majority of their shares in English Electric Canada to its UK parent in order to concentrate on the consumer products field exclusively.
By 1966 Inglis had become the leading producer of Canadian-built laundry machines. In 1967, a refrigerator plant was opened in Stoney Creek, Ontario and production of dehumidifiers was added there in 1970. In 1972, Inglis produced its one-millionth automatic washer and began manufacturing and selling appliances under the Whirlpool brand name. A year later the company began operating under the name, Inglis Limited. New operations were opened in Laval, Quebec in the late 1970s, along with expansions of their Toronto operations. In 1982, Inglis purchased parts of Canadian Admiral Corporation, and sold some of their appliances under that name.
In 1981 the company moved its head office to Mississauga, Ontario, and starting the next year the downtown Toronto operations were slowly sold off. As of 2010[update], the former location on Strachan Avenue, along with the nearby Massey Ferguson plants, are being redeveloped as housing and commercial space. All that remains is the landmark giant blue and white Inglis billboard, on a small part of one of the old buildings not demolished. It is aimed at the Gardiner Expressway and frequently flashes inspirational quotes to passing motorists.
Whirlpool Corporation acquired majority interest of Inglis in 1987 and changed the company name to Whirlpool Canada in 2001. "Inglis" is now a brand of household appliances from Whirlpool marketed primarily in Canada. In the United States, Inglis appliances are sold at Best Buy stores.
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