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Goodyear Tire & Rubber

May 25, 2020 (0) comment

The May 25th, 1918 edition of the Toronto Daily Star has a full-page ad entitled “A Future Assured” describing several of the businesses in New Toronto. It has some sketch drawings of the businesses including The Reg. N. Boxer Co. Ltd., Ritchie & Ramsay Ltd., Browns Copper & Brass Rolling Mills Ltd., Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. of Canada Ltd., and Dupont Fabrikoid Co.

Goodyear started in Canada in 1910 with a plant in Bowmanville. During World War I, production expanded so rapidly that there was need for an additional plant. Hence, the Goodyear Tire plant was built in New Toronto in 1917 and was located between 9th and 13th streets, fronting Lakeshore. Water, necessary for the manufacture of rubber products, plenty of labour, and excellent shipping facilities predicated the choice of New Toronto as the site for a modern plant. (In fact, before the pumping station was built, Goodyear pumped water to the plant directly from Lake Ontario). The new plant also housed the company’s head office. It became known as the “pneumatic tire plant” and manufactured tires for automobiles, trucks, logging and farm vehicles, industrial tires, tubes and plastic films.

At first, capacity was set at 200 tires a day (an ample figure at that time). During World War II, capacity reached the 10,500 mark. In November 1927, Mr. George D. Scott, assessor for the New Toronto Business Men’s Association, touted that “Of all the wallpaper manufactured in Canada, 50 per cent was manufactured at the Boxer Company plant, while 80 per cent of the sheet brass and copper was made at the Anaconda factory, and 50 per cent of the auto tires manufactured in Canada were made at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company”. “C.H. Carlisle, president of the Goodyear Company, said his company was today doing business with 87 foreign countries and they paid out three million in their pay roll and one and a half million in freight”. (Toronto Daily Star, 1927/11/18). Photo credit: Goodyear Canada Inc.

“In its heyday”, writes Dick Baxter, “Goodyear had three shifts and as many as 1300 employees. They had their own cafeteria, bowling alleys, police force, newspaper (the Wingfoot clan) and their own baseball team. Over the years, the company blimp visited and moored on the spacious grounds”. The spacious Goodyear field was used as an unofficial playground for schools and the town. A full staff of gardeners tended the gardens. Goodyear was know to be a great corporate citizen and even made a large donation of a camp to the Boy Scouts, in memory of the Goodyear employees killed in World War II.

The following article in the Goodyear Wingfoot Clan from August 1926 provides a perspective of Goodyear’s participation in community events: (Reproduced with permission from Goodyear Canada):

“Goodyear Gets First in their Class

New Toronto merchants and business men held a monster parade and Community Day on Aug. 11th, which was one of the best affairs of this sort ever held on Lake Shore Road.

Practically ever merchant and factory in the town had a float or car in the parade and every one of the floats was original and instructive.

Goodyear’s float won first prize for industrial floats, which was a silver cup donated by the Business men’s Association. Anaconda American Brass won the Sweepstake cup donated by the Goodyear for the best local float.”

During World War II, employment at the Goodyear plant doubled to 2,800 as the demand for war production rose to unprecedented levels. In addition to the production of tires, 75% of which were used on military equipment, the plant also produced life rafts, bulletproof aircraft fuel tanks, de-icing equipment and many other essential products.

Hundreds of Goodyear employees joined Canada’s military forces during the wartime period. Forty-seven were killed in action including Flight Lieutenant David E. Hornell, an employee in the chemical department at the Goodyear plant. Hornell was posthumously awarded the first Victoria Cross to be won by a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The Goodyear employees who paid the supreme sacrifice during both wars continue to be remembered through the Goodyear Remembrance Trophy, which is awarded annually at Toronto’s Warriors’ Day Parade.

Goodyear Plant, 1967 (Photo Credits: Goodyear Canada Inc)

A lot is to be said for the employee culture at Goodyear. Employees were encouraged to participate in community events, and most employees were local residents. In fact, Goodyear established the “Spirit Award” program in 1966 to recognize employees who best illustrate what “spirit” is all about – the spirit of striving for perfection – of satisfaction in a job well done – and working within and for one’s community. Several New Toronto employees won this award over the years, including Barry Fitzpatrick, who worked for Goodyear right up to his passing on in December 2006. (Barry was very helpful in putting together this web page). Many employees had a long tenure at Goodyear. They were, and are, loyal, dedicated employees and thus were often dubbed as “Goodyearites”. Several employees even today have over 40 years seniority.

The Lakeshore plant closed on May 31, 1987 and moved north to 450 Kipling Avenue.

In 1988, the Daniels group purchased the site for a residential development of apartment buildings. Kleinfeldt Consultants managed the demolition project.

In 1992, construction was started on 7 new co-operative housing projects. The co-ops are built around a quadrangle, the middle of which is a park at Tenth Street and Coin Street. Several co-op buildings are named after various people who played an important part in the community:

  • Barsa Kelly/Cari-Can Co-operative Homes is located at 1 Coin Street
  • Robert Cooke is on Garnett Janes Road
  • Lakeshore Gardens is also on Garnett Janes Road
  • Birmingham Co-op is on Elsinore Path
  • Lakeshore Village Artists’ Co-operative Homes is on Birmingham Street
  • Lerette Manor for seniors is on Twelfth Street
  • Nakiska Co-op is on Lakeshore Blvd West

In the picture to the left, Barsa Kelly Co-op is in the middle. Daniels townhouses are to the right. Robert Cooke/Lakeshore Gardens— which share the same building—are on the left. (Photo Credit: John McCuaig)

The co-op projects were particularly daring because they were built on reclaimed brownfield land contaminated by chlorinated chemicals used in the manufacture of Goodyear Tires and Anaconda Brass from the 1920’s to 1989, when the plants closed. Mayor David Miller said, “The lands are also essential for “smart growth” policies promoted in the official plan, which would combat urban sprawl by diverting new GTA residents into the central city”. Now, in 2004, a townhouse condominium project is almost completed on the Lakeshore front of the site.

Below are a couple of pictures of some of the (almost) completed townhouse construction on the Lakeshore front in 2005.

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