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From the Stove to the Electric Range

Electrification and Spinoff Industries

In the 1920s, the gradual spread of electrification in Canada favoured the expansion of industries specializing in the manufacture of equipment for hydroelectric and lighting installations, and the electric household appliance industry followed this trend. Electric stoves were manufactured by the Canadian Westinghouse Company Limited and the Canadian General Electric Company Limited, subsidiaries of American companies.

Logo for General Steel
Wares Limited
(CSTM Trade Literature

Established in Toronto in 1927, General Steel Wares Limited combined small workshops in Ontario and Quebec that, since the nineteenth century, had been well known in the production of stoves and kitchen implements: McClary Manufacturing Company in London, Happy Thought Foundry Company in Brantford, Thomas Davidson Manufacturing Company Limited in Montreal, Sheet Metal Products Company of Canada Limited in Toronto, A. Aubry et fils Limitée in Montreal, and, E. T. Wright Limited in Hamilton. Beatty Brothers in Fergus, and Moffats Limited in Weston joined the group in 1961 and 1971 respectively. In 1977, the merger of this consortium with General Electric Canada Incorporated and Westinghouse Canada Limited led to the formation of the Canadian Appliances Manufacturing Company Limited (Camco), which today remains one of the main manufacturers of electric household appliances in Canada.

Gurney–Northern Electric catalogue (CSTM Trade Literature Collection)

From 1920 to 1940, the Northern Electric Company Limited (known today as Nortel) joined with the Gurney Foundry Company to produce and distribute electric stoves. A similar association brought together the General Motors Corporation and Frigidaire Home Products from the 1930s to the 1970s.

This advertisement, produced after the amalgamation of General Motors Corporation with Frigidaire Home Products, illustrates the influence of the automobile industry on the manufacture of electric ranges. (CSTM Trade Literature Collection)

In fact, since the early twentieth century, many companies that specialized in transforming raw materials have worked to develop components appropriate for electric ranges. For example, Hamilton Potteries, and Smith and Stone, produced moulds in Bakelite and ovenproof porcelain for plugs, electrical outlets, and wiring and plate devices, while the Stamped and Enamelled Ware Company supplied parts in glazed porcelain. The application of aluminum, nickel, and stainless steel alloys in cooking elements, knobs and fasteners arose from industrial processes — fusion, lamination, moulding and stamping—developed by the Northern Aluminum Company (which would later become Alcan Incorporated).

In the 1940s, the Steel Company of Canada (Stelco), inspired by the American automotive industry, introduced the manufacture of rolled steel sheets used in appliance cladding. Until about 1975, insulation panels inside ovens were constructed from chrysotile asbestos, made and marketed by Asbestos Corporation Limited since the early twentieth century.

Beginning in the 1930s, the use of materials such as rubber, polyvinyl acetate, phenol, and formaldehyde resin in the production of knobs, insulation, power cords and gaskets was introduced by Shawinigan Chemicals Limited and the Joseph Stokes Rubber Company. Beginning in 1947, the Canadian petrochemical industry contributed to the rapid development of the manufacture of polymers and plastics used for control knobs, pushbuttons, backguards, timers and lighting units.