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Manufacturers Index - Paxton, Tate & Co.
Last Modified: Oct 19 2018 4:14PM by Jeff_Joslin
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This company operated the Port Perry Machine Works from about 1855 until 1896; the principals were Thomas C. Paxton, William Tate, and John Bigelow. While they had a fairly broad product line, the company is best remembered for their turbine water wheels and sawmill machinery. After bankruptcy in 1896 manufacturing resumed but we do not know for how long and under what name.

Thomas C. Paxton, born in 1821, moved to Port Perry from Whitby in about 1842. In 1846 he and three others opened a sawmill; Paxton sold out in the early 1850s. Next he partnered in a flour mill with Bigelow, and then he partnered with Bigelow and Tate in the Port Perry Machine Works, operating as Paxton, Tate & Co. Paxton served the local community as treasurer, reeve, MP, and sheriff before moving back to Whitby for health reasons in about 1885, passing away a couple of years later. Paxton sold his house to one William McGill, who also became the largest investor in Paxton, Tate & Co., in the amount of $17,500. The business was operated by George W. Dryden. The business went bankrupt in June of 1896. Besides McGill, another major creditor was the Western Bank, for whom McGill had been branch manager until the bankruptcy of Paxton Tate.

In November of 1896 it was announced that Dryden, McGill, James Carnegie of Port Perry, Leonard Burnett of Greenbank, Hon. John Dryden and F. W. Hodson of Guelph, recapitalized Paxton, Tate & Co. in the amount of $99,000 so that it could resume manufacturing under the continued direction of George Dryden. (John Dryden was the second-largest creditor of the bankrupt business, behind only McGill). It is not clear what happened to the attempted revival, but in June and July of the following year the assets of the company were sold.

The Western Bank sued McGill for $30,000 but lost in a jury trial in June 1898. In July 1899, McGill, died, possibly a suicide as a consequence of the business failure and lawsuit.

The Paxton Tate foundry was purchased by Port Perry native Madison Williams, who, under his own name, continued the manufacture of turbine water wheels and sawmill machinery. Williams died in 1934 at age 78. We do not know for how long his business operated.

Information Sources

  • Listed in the Port Perry Directory for 1869/70 as an agricultural works. The directory is available online at the Port Perry / Scugog Township Heritage Gallery site.
  • Listed in Lovell's Canadian Dominion Directory for 1871, in several places. "PAXTON, TATE & CO., patentees and manufacturers of Marsh harvesters, manufacturers of Leffel's double turbine water wheels, shingle machines, circular saw rigs, patent oscillating mulays, wood and iron machinery, mill gearing, shaftings, pulleys, hangers, couplings, &c. See Adv." Also, "PAXTON THOMAS, M.P., of Paxton, Tate & Co., proprietor Union Flour mills". Also, "TATE WILLIAM, of Paxton, Tate & Co." An ad in the same directory uses identical wording to the above listing. A list of awards at the bottom of the ad includes "Awarded 1st Prize and Diploma at the Provincial Exhibition, London, 1869." That would be London, Ontario, not London, England. Other awards, all from 1870, include one from Hungary and one from St. Louis.
  • 1900 advertisement for Madison Williams, "Successor to Paxton, Tate & Co."