This maker traces its roots back to 1839, when Ebenezer Frost opened a blacksmithy and foundry in Smiths Falls. In 1846, he took in a partner, Alexander Wood, to create the joint company Frost & Wood, operating the Smith's Falls Foundry & Agricultural Works (it was common 19th century practice to have separate names for the manufacturing operation and the business that ran the operation).
Ad from 1869 "Ontario Gazetteer"
In 1909 the Cockshutt Plow Company became a minority owner of the business, and the two firms acted as agents for the other company's products. This continued until 1933, when Frost & Wood got into financial trouble and Cockshutt bought them out and absorbed their operations into Cockshutt's. For many years the Smiths Falls operations remained in business as a Cockshutt branch plant.
Frost & Wood was primarily a maker of agricultural equipment, which is outside the scope of this website. They are listed as a maker of woodworking machinery because they made circular sawmills and drag saws.
- From the 1869 Province of Ontario Gazetteer and Directory, C. E. Anderson & Co., ed. H. McEvoy: ad for this maker, "Frost & Wood, Manufacturers of The Buckeye Mower and Reaper, Threshing Machines, Drag Cross-Cut Sawing Machines, ... Circular Sawing Machine, Grist & Saw Mill Castings...". The directory listing reads, "FROST & WOOD (Francis T. Wood, Charles B. Frost and Alexander Wood), founders and machinists, general merchants and proprietors Pike's Falls saw mills (see adv)".
- From About Cockshutt by William H. Cockshutt, Driveline Publishing 2004:
Frost & Wood was the first Canadian manufacture of agricultural implements. In 1839 Ebenezer Frost moved from Vermont to Smith's Falls that year to found a blacksmithy and foundry. They manufactured plow tips, stoves, and plows. In 1846 he and Alexander Wood formed a joint company.
Their 1864 letterhead listing their product line, consisting of various agricultural machines, plus "Drag and Cross-cut Sawing machine, Stumping Machines,... Shingle Machines, Grist and Sawmill castings..."
In 1909 the Cockshutt Plow Co. of Brantford, ON, acquired 27 percent of the shares of the Frost & Wood Co. of Smith Falls, ON. Cockshutt Plow earned distribution rights for F&W products west of Peterborough, ON, and F&W became the distributor of Cockshutt products east of Peterborough; this arrangement reflected Cockshutt's strong dealer network in the west, and F&W's in the east. The deal apparently came about because the Bank of Montreal held loans for both companies, and wanted out of their F&W loans. The bank probably played the role of matchmaker.
It is not known whether Frost & Wood were still manufacturing sawing and shingle machines by 1909, and, if so, whether Cockshutt continued their manufacture.
Cockshut and F&W both saw increasing sales and healthy margins, but at the same time they were losing market share in the rapidly expanding marketplace. Tariffs on American imports had been reduced, and sales of American machinery was growing faster than the market.
In 1933, F&W was in bad shape because of the depression, and Cockshutt—which was in somewhat better condition because of good and conservative management—bought the remaining F&W shares.