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Manufacturers Index - General Manufacturing Co., Ltd.

General Manufacturing Co., Ltd.
Drummondville, QC, Canada
Company Website: http://www.general.ca/
Manufacturer Class: Wood Working Machinery

History
Last Modified: Apr 7 2019 4:39PM by Jeff_Joslin
If you have information to add to this entry, please contact the Site Historian.

For many years General was the dominant maker of light industrial woodworking machinery in Canada. In 1982, their production of woodworking machinery was 5,000 machines per year. Besides woodworking machinery, at one time they produced hydro towers and highway guard rails.

General began in 1945 as a family business reportedly producing machines under contract from Porter-Cable; the General Manufacturing Co., Ltd. name was first used in 1947.

In 1987, General bought Jos. Poitras & Sons, Ltd., another respected Quebec maker of woodworking machinery. For years, some machines survived from the Poitras line: the V-154 14" radial arm saw,the 2800-B 3/4" spindle shaper, the SS-032 1 1/4" shaper and the No 1 and No 4 exhausters. All of these machines were labeled with both the General and Poitras names.

Poitras had, in turn, purchased Joseph Côté, Inc.. So far as we know, none of the Côté designs survived in General's product catalog.

General's Model 220 hollow-chisel mortiser design was purchased from Yates American.

General briefly sold the Model J-50 9" Craftmaster tilt arbor saw and the Model J-80 4" Craftmaster jointer, both made by Henry Power Tools, Ltd. We do not know if this was a temporary arrangement or if General bought the line from Henry Power Tools.

The rarely-seen 3501 sliding-table accessory (which fit most 10" tablesaws, including the Model 350-1 General tablesaw) was made by Robland. In 2003 General bought Sommerville Design, the makers of the Excalibur line of scroll saws and accessories, including a sliding table that was better suited than the Robland to handling sheet goods.

In June 2012 General announced that they were ceasing the manufacture of machinery in Canada and would henceforth only carry their General International line of Taiwanese-made machinery. In 2017 General closed their doors altogether, but as of 2019 the sale of Taiwan-made General International machinery has resumed.

Dating General Machines

The following list summarizes some clues in dating General machines

  • So far as we know, the first General-branded machines were produced in about 1947.
  • In 1962, at least some General machines were painted green, somewhat darker and bluer than the later General green. This color may have been used before 1962 as well.
  • Other early machines (up to the mid-1960s) were painted a speckled gray and white.
  • The red oval "General" tag means that a machine is from before the mid-1960s.
  • If your machine's tag is a silver oval with black "General" then it dates from about 1965.
  • A new serial numbering system was introduced in 1962. Machines produced that year have serial numbers prefixed with "A". The letter was incremented each year until 1987 when they reached "Z". The 1988 machines have prefix "AA", changing to "AB" in 1989, etc. This seems to hold up to at least 1995, but a couple of machines of mine, purchased new in 1998 and 2003, both have serial numbers prefixed with "G".
    Prefix Year Prefix Year Prefix Year Prefix Year
            I   1970   S   1980   AC   1990 
            J   1971   T   1981   AD   1991 
     A   1962   K   1972   U   1982   AE   1992 
     B   1963   L   1973   V   1983   AF   1993 
     C   1964   M   1974   W   1984   AG   1994 
     D   1965   N   1975   X   1985   AH   1995 
     E   1966   O   1976   Y   1986     
     F   1967   P   1977   Z   1987     
     G   1968   Q   1978   AA   1988     
     H   1969   R   1979   AB   1989     

Information Sources

  • The Canadian Patent Office Record and Register of Copyrights and Trade Marks, 1948, has the following listing.
    General Manufacturing Company, Limited, Drummondville, Quebec, Canada. Date of registration: 23rd July, 1948. Date of first use: 30th April, 1947.
    The trademark registration was modified on 2007-11-21, "FROM: GENERAL MANUFACTURING COMPANY LIMITED / TO: CIE MFRE GÉNÉRALE INTERNATIONALE LTÉE". On 2015-07-08 it was updated, "FROM: CIE MFRE GÉNÉRALE INTERNATIONALE LTÉE/GENERAL INTERNATIONAL MFG. CO. LTD. / TO: DMT Holdings, Inc." On 2018-05-26 it changed again, "FROM: DMT Holdings, Inc. / TO: K&C America LLC".
  • A 1961 telephone directory lists the company,
  • A 1969 issue of Foundry had the following snippet.
    General Mfg. Ltd., Drummondville, Que., Canada, has been licensed by Meehanite Metal Corp., White Plains, N. Y., to produce Meehanite castings.
  • A 1970 issue of L'Ingénieur has this snippet:
    GENERAL MANUFACTURING CO. (Gilbert Guérette) 835 Cherrier, Drummondville. Tel: 861-6920. Ing. Métallurgiste avec exp. en fonderie pour travail de product. et lab. de contrôle dans fonderie à Drummondville.
  • From a 1970 issue of Foundry Management & Technology: "Belgen Inc. is a new foundry in Drummondville, Que., that has been formed by merger of Beloeil Foundry Ltd., Beloeil, Que., and the foundry division of General Mfg. Ltd., Drummondville."
  • A 1980 article gives their address as General Manufacturing Co., Ltd., 835 Cherrier St., Drummondville, Quebec.
  • A Fine Woodworking website article dated June 22, 2012 reports on General's announcement that it was ceasing Canadian manufacture.
  • Information on General's early beginnings comes from a 1982 distributor's catalog.
  • Information on dating General machines comes, in part, from a discussion on owwm.org.
  • Thanks to Yoland Beauregard for providing the information on the color of his 1962 tablesaw. Yoland confirmed with the General factory , and an employee whose father was a painter there, that green was used before the speckled gray.
  • We have a couple of email reports that General made 4" and 6" jointers and an 8" tablesaw for Delta. After Delta stopped production of them, General bought the patterns and continued making them under the General name. This story has been denied by a source at Delta and is not consistent with the design of the older General small jointers and tablesaw.