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Manufacturers Index - McKinnon Industries, Ltd.
History
Last Modified: Mar 16 2013 11:28AM by Jeff_Joslin
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This firm, which is listed here because they made electric motors, began in 1878 as a partnership of Lachlan Ebenezer McKinnon and H. H. Mitchell, operating as McKinnon and Mitchell Hardware. The two men manufactured hardware for saddlery, hames, and wagons, including patented carriage dashes and fenders. Their premises were on St. Paul Street in St. Catharines. In 1888 the partnership ended and McKinnon renamed the business to McKinnon Dash & Hardware Co. In 1900 or '01 the business moved to a new location on Ontario Street.

In 1905 McKinnon opened a drop forging operation to manufacture chains. During World War I they supplied saddlery and hardware to the war effort, and also made shells and fuses, which brought them new skills in precision manufacturing. In 1918 the chain business was sold and McKinnon began making automotive components, including transmission and differential gears. L. E. McKinnon died in 1923 and in 1925 the business was purchased by Gideon Grant and Neil Sinclair, who created a new corporate entity, McKinnon Industries, Ltd.

In 1929 the rising automotive conglomerate, General Motors Corp., purchases McKinnon Industries. In 1932 we get to the part of interest to us: the McKinnon Industries subsidiary of GM began manufacturing fractional horsepower electric motors for washing machines and refrigerators.

Beginning in 1939, McKinnon began making a variety of products for the war effort: four wheel drive trucks, percussion fuses, dynamotors for two-way radios, fire control mechanism, motors for gyroscopic gun sights, torpedo drives, and elevating units for anti-aircraft guns. In 1944 they began manufacturing ball bearings and roller bearings. At the end of the war, manufacture of bearings continued with a new line of commercial bearings. In 1948 McKinnon added fuel pumps to their already extensive lineup.

In 1952 an enormous new foundry opened, the largest malleable and grey iron foundry in the British Commonwealth. This foundry closed in 1995. In 1953 McKinnon began manufacturing car and truck radios. The following year they began manufacturing V-8 engines, including the Oldsmobile Rocket.

In 1963, production of commercial fractional horsepower motors was transferred to the GM Diesel plant in London, Ont. We are uncertain how these motors were badged. McKinnon's name changed to "General Motors of Canada Limited, St. Catharine's" in 1969.

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