When I first came to Sackville as a Mount Allison freshman on 10 September, 1969 (obviously a happy day never to be forgotten!), the fork in the road at Salem/ East Main (as we knew it at that time) was a centre of activity. Naturally, Mount Allison was a busy spot, but the location where the large parking lot on the corner of King and Main now rests was equally frantic when the Fawcett Foundry occupied that space and workers came to work in the morning or left work in late afternoon. It was a busy spot!
Today, incoming students (and perhaps new Mount A professors) would be unaware what a centre of industrial activity this fork in the road once was. I remember it well. Furthermore, the large space at the end of Lorne Street, beyond the train station, or at the tip of the well-named Enterprise Street (across from Marshview School) is where the remains of the former (and busy) Enterprise Foundry once billowed smoke and hired a large number of employees.
Many Sackville families depended on these factories and related businesses for their income, over a few generations in some cases. Both sites no longer support either industry and only the remains of the Enterprise Foundry provide any indication of this foundry’s once-iconic presence in this town. But Scott Browne, who was hired as interpreter for the Campbell Carriage Factory by the Tantramar Heritage Trust in the summer of 2018, took on the special project of providing us with a report on the histories of Sackville’s two foundries. Scott did a marvelous job and the main article of this newsletter consists of his report to the Trust on this subject. Please note that Scott frequently used direct quotations from the references provided to him by the Trust; as these would have created too many footnotes for the ends of each page (the normal space for footnotes), they are listed separately with the numerous references as “References and Citations” at the end of the article. This story will bring back numerous memories to many of you while providing new information to others. Either way, read and enjoy!
A Brief History of The Sackville Foundries
By Scott Browne
One of the most important characteristics of early industry was the ability to take on new challenges caused by the changing political, social and economic environment of the times. Sackville’s early industry was no exception. Indeed, the early industrial period was marked by times of economic excess and downturn, fights for workers’ rights, and, possibly the most significant events: two world wars. Wartime in Canada saw many industries adopting contracts to assist in the war effort. In fact, the effort made by Canadians all across the country was felt internationally and it is said that “no eleven and a half million anywhere in the world produced more or did more”1 for this effort. Reports suggest that “by 1943, thirty-four industrial plants were working on some war contracts while eleven others were at maximum capacity for the war effort.”2 What did this mean for Sackville foundries? It turns out that the two foundries in Sackville had many wartime contracts both from Canada and the United States and both plants dedicated the majority of their capacity to war efforts. In fact, these war efforts may have been one of the main reasons for the foundries’ survival. Aside from the wars, many periods of rapid technological innovation and social change coincided with the operation of the foundries and had important effects on their operations. This paper will document the multitude of experiences that the foundries endured and the changes made thereof from inception to closure.
The Fawcett Foundry was the first foundry established in Sackville. Technically created in 1852, John Fawcett and his son, George, established a small tin-working shop, which, in the 1870s, would begin to
fulfill its larger historical purpose as one of the largest employers in Sackville, manufacturing stoves. One of the principle reasons for its coming into being was the construction of the Inter-Colonial Railway as a part of the agreements involved in Confederation.3 This railway granted national and even international access to what once seemed to be strictly local industries. As a result, Fawcett Stoves were made available all across Canada and even internationally. In 1872, the Fawcett Foundry’s competitor was established by R.M. Dixon and was called the Dominion Foundry Company which would change management a couple of times before being permanently named the Enterprise Foundry in 1888.4
The initial years of the foundries were troubling yet promising. On May 10th, 1889, a workers’ strike was organized and targeted the Enterprise Foundry, a response to 10% wage cuts. The union prevailed and the workers returned to their jobs.5 On December 24, 1893, the original foundry owned by Fawcett was destroyed by fire and was subsequently rebuilt in February of the next year.6 There is evidence of another strike involving the Fawcett foundry in response to more wage cuts – most likely due to the incumbent costs of rebuilding the foundry.7
After this rather chaotic period, both of the foundries were beginning to establish themselves as substantial sources of industry for the town and the potential for the foundries to succeed and grow was coming ever closer to being actualized. A major debate at the time was the inclusion of PEI in confederation and, as such, extending the Inter-Colonial Railway to Prince Edward Island. Competing bids were made, one that would save Sackville as a major station stop and one that would reroute the railway. In the end, Sackville’s bid was accepted and the railway was not to be rerouted.8 This was a big win for the foundries which now had guaranteed access to the PEI stove market. The future looked bright. Both foundries were readied for operation by the turn of the century, a time characterized by both great progress and great uncertainty.
The Early 1900s
Before the first World War, the foundries’ businesses were expanding. The railway provided access to all of Canada and the process of achieving national and even international success began to take its infantile form. In July 1908, however, the Enterprise Foundry was struck by a devastating fire that “left the plant in ruins.”9 Facing the unemployment of approximately 250 workers, the decision to rebuild the foundry was made in August of the same year. Aside from this event, the early 1900s were characterized mainly by steady growth in the foundries. Indeed, this steady growth in industry translated into an increasing civic movement towards incorporating the town in 1903.10 But then, the war came.
The First World War
The First World War brought challenges never before faced by the newly industrial municipalities in Canada. One of the results of the wartime effort was that many factories and foundries were given temporary contracts for the manufacturing of munitions, engines and other necessary military supplies. Fawcett Foundry, “almost entirely” committed itself to the production of “high explosive shells.”11 Many buildings were added during this time to accommodate for the wartime surge in employment and responsibilities. The Enterprise Foundry also dedicated much of its wartime work to military technologies. In the Enterprise Foundry however, the majority of this work was in making oil-burning stoves for the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Navy.12 Although there was ample work to be done in these foundries, labour shortages were a big problem during the war as many of the foundry workers were conscripted. As a result, the Fawcett Foundry “made history when, for the first time in Sackville, it employed women.”13 Women were a huge part of the war effort in Sackville and elsewhere and this event serves to show the extent to which people at home during the war effort were willing to go to support their country: they had engaged and/or allowed others to engage in types of labour they never before had access to or experience with.
As the war came to a close, workers and other citizens alike were optimistic about the future. In fact, Sackville was “spared the worst of the economic slump during the early 20s, thanks in part to the business success of the Enterprise and Fawcett foundries.”14 The horizon seemed bright as soldiers, husbands and workers returned from the war, many of whom resumed their work uninterrupted.
The Interwar Period
The optimism and prosperity of the 20s would be short-lived and would eventually dwindle as the Great Depression came around. However, before this economic collapse, Fawcett Foundry acquired an Amherst building location, expanding their operations beyond Sackville. At this time, they renamed to Enamel & Heating Products, Ltd.15 This occurred in 1928. In 1929, a further acquisition was made by Enamel & Heating Products Ltd.: a foundry in Victoria, B.C. which was to start manufacturing “a portion of Fawcett stoves and furnace lines for the Western provinces.”16 Additionally, in 1929, Enterprise foundry owner F.A. Fisher appeared in front of the Town Council to arrange for a land acquisition in Sackville – to be used for the construction of a new brick building to expand the foundry.17 It appears as though the Great Depression had not yet showed itself to Sackville. And indeed this was the case: “… Sackville slowly awakened to a growing depression”, instead of a particular “cataclysmic”18 event revealing it.
In the 1930s, “unemployment [increased] daily, particularly during the first half of the 1930s” and, as such, an increasing amount of “labour unrest became evident in Sackville.”19 What also occurred in the 30s was the prominence of export trade outside of Canada. Exports to “South Africa, New Zealand, Argentina and other distant countries”20 became commonplace for Enamel & Heating Products Ltd. and exports to South Africa were also common for Enamel & Heating’s competitor, the Enterprise Foundry.21
A quote from the General Manager of the Royal Bank, in correspondence with Fawcett Foundry, illustrates the rough economic conditions of the times:
The situation calls for drastic action on the part of the company in the reduction of overhead, curtailment of production and a vigorous collection campaign. Everything possible should be done to speed up sales and get inventories reduced to lower figures rapidly. Impress upon the officials that the affairs of the company must be so ordered from now on that the liability to the Bank will be reduced to substantially lower figures by the end of the year.22
This letter progresses to quite explicitly call for “reduction in … wages”23 which usually results in increased layoffs and thus unemployment. And indeed, from the outset of the depression through to 1935, Sackville struggled through increasing unemployment and strikes.24 By 1936, however, the foundries were operating again at full capacity. C.W. Fawcett – owner of the E&H Ltd. and also town mayor – predicted that the foundries would stay at full capacity through the new year.25 However, this was not the case. By 1937, “the recovery that had started in mid-1936 began to falter.”26 Only modest projections were made the following years.
In Enamel & Heating Ltd.’s record book, it indicated that “no dividends were paid from 1932 to 1947”.27 This means that nothing was paid to shareholders during these years. This aligns rather well with the outset of the Great Depression through to the end of World War II, indicating predictably troubled times for industry.
World War II
In World War II, the foundries yet again took to manufacturing war munitions and other wartime technologies. There is something to be said about the war’s positive effect on Sackville’s economy, which was struggling before wartime contracts were issued. “The two foundries”, along with other manufacturers and businesses in town, “bent their efforts to winning the war.”28 For the Enamel & Heating foundry, this meant that “approximately 80% of the plant’s capacity … was devoted to fill war orders.”29 In fact, an additional building was made just to fulfill a need for cartridge case boxes, “2000 per day.”30
Additionally, they acquired many contracts for repairing aircrafts and manufacturing sub-assemblies. The repair of the “Hudson aircraft … Ventura aircraft … manufacture of parts for Helldiver aircraft … steel ammunition boxes … wooden ammunition boxes, windlasses and bilge pumps”31 occupied Enamel & Heating’s Sackville plant. Again, the war effort saw a large surge in women employed “by businesses ranging from the Saint John shipyard to the two Sackville foundries.”32
Post WWII to Closure
Enamel & Heating’s record books indicate that even after the war, the military was still contracting E&H to make aircraft parts at their Amherst plant.33 Even the U.S. Air Force contracted E&H to manufacture “the complete tooling and production of empennage components for the T36 Beech Trainer.”34 Additionally, around this time, relationships strengthened between the Lewis Appliance Corporation of South Africa and Sackville’s Enamel and Heating Ltd. Following South Africa’s adoption of import restrictions in 1949 a deal was concluded with Lewis Appliances to enable the manufacture of Fawcett products in that country.35
By 1953, records show that there only existed three stove manufacturers in all of New Brunswick, two of those being Enterprise and Enamel & Heating.36 At Enamel & Heating, “production … flourished, reaching its peak in the 1960s.”37 Enterprise foundry was finding success in the post-war economy as well and it is said that “by 1962, Enterprise Foundry was considered to be the largest privately owned and second largest Canadian-owned Stove Company in Canada.”38 In the 50s and 60s, Enterprise Foundry, “every year, [had] approximately 150 full car (train) loads … shipped out … for distribution.”39 Also during this time, exports and close alliances continued to be established between Enamel & Heating Ltd. and South Africa which ran a contest for a free stove to be awarded to the South African resident who penned the best letter as to why they deserve the ‘Ellis-de-Luxe’ stove.40 The contest received over 2000 entrants, indicating the reach of Sackville’s industrial production. The winner was a man who penned a creative work about a failing marriage that was saved by the efficiency of the Ellis de-Luxe.41
In the late 70s, financial troubles struck the foundries, and in particular Enterprise foundry: the management attempted to adopt “Big Blue”, a piece of chemical bond which was supposed to revolutionize the foundry’s moulding shop. During this time, significant investment was also made in the development of commercial microwaves. The money lost during these two projects, coupled with the declining wood heating industry and the recessionary economy, ultimately led to the foundry’s demise.42
Enterprise began to consistently lose money year-to-year. The plant was officially closed down after an attempted campaign by David Hawkins to save the foundry failed.43 In 1983, the Province of New Brunswick bought Enterprise’s assets for $1 million and launched a project to re-open the plant temporarily to show potential shareholders the productive capacities of Enterprise.44 From then on, the Enterprise foundry was taken under the ownership of Enamel & Heating Ltd. They were combined under the name Enterprise Fawcett Inc. and the culminated foundry went through a series of downsizings before eventually being destroyed in a “devastating fire” in January, 2012.45
Footnotes and Citations
1 “New Brunswick At War”. Provincial Archives of New Brunswick (no date) https://archives.gnb.ca/Exhibits/WWII/?culture=en-CA. (page 1).
3 Hamilton, William B., At The Crossroads. Gaspereau Press (page 108). 2004.
4 Hamilton, William B., At The Crossroads. Gaspereau Press. 2004.
5 Forsey, Eugene. Trade Unions in Canada: 1812-1902. University of Toronto Press, 1982.
6 Brief History of Enamel & Heating Products Ltd. (no author nor date of publication). Record book of financial statements and correspondence; available at the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre, Sackville, NB.
7 Forsey, Eugene, Trade Unions in Canada: 1812-1902. University of Toronto Press (Chapter 10), 1982.
8 Hamilton, William B. At The Crossroads. Gaspereau Press (page 110). 2004.
9 Ibid. (page 126)
10 White Fence, Newsletter #37 (May, 2016). Tantramar Heritage Trust.
11 This is Sackville. “Enamel & Heating Corp., Ltd.” Unpublished Report, Boultenhouse Heritage Centre, Sackville. NB.
13 Hamilton, William B. At The Crossroads. Gaspereau Press (page 141). 2004.
14 Hamilton, William B. At The Crossroads. Gaspereau Press. 2004.
15 Milner, W.C. History of Sackville, New Brunswick.
17 Cooper, George L. Sackville, New Brunswick During the Great Depression, 1929-1939. Honours Thesis (page 10), Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB. 1989.
18 Ibid. page 11)
19 Hamilton, William B. At The Crossroads. Gaspereau Press. 2004.
20 Milner, W.C. History of Sackville, New Brunswick.
22 Brief History of Enamel & Heating Products Ltd. (no author nor date of publication). Record book
of financial statements and correspondence; available at the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre, Sackville, NB.
24 Cooper, George L. Sackville, New Brunswick During the Great Depression, 1929-1939. Honours
Thesis (page 34), Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB. 1989.
25 Ibid. (page 61)
26 Ibid. (page 65)
27 Brief History of Enamel & Heating Products Ltd. (no author nor date of publication). Record book
of financial statements and correspondence; available at the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre, Sackville, NB.
28 Milner, W.C. History of Sackville, New Brunswick.
31 Brief History of Enamel & Heating Products Ltd. (no author nor date of publication). Record book of financial statements and correspondence; available at the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre, Sackville, NB.
32 Hamilton, William B. At The Crossroads. Gaspereau Press. 2004.
33 Brief History of Enamel & Heating Products Ltd. (no author nor date of publication). Record book
of financial statements and correspondence; available at the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre, Sackville, NB.
35 Fawcett Foundry-Lewis Appliance Corp. correspondence between the two companies; available at the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre, Sackville, New Brunswick.
36 “Enterprise Foundry”. Canada’s Historic Places. Parks Canada.
37 “Sackville NB – Enamel and Heating May 30, 1931”. Marshland: Records of Life on the Tantramar. Mount Allison University. https://www.mta.ca/marshland/topic7_marsheconomy/marsheconomy.htm
38 “Enterprise Foundry”. Canada’s Historic Places. Parks Canada. https://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=7181
39 George, Jeff A., The Management of Process Technology Adoption: A Case Study of Enterprise-Fawcett. Honours Thesis (page 134). Mount Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick. 1995.
40 Fawcett Foundry-Lewis Appliance Corp. correspondence between the two companies. available at the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre, Sackville, New Brunswick.
42 George, Jeff A., The Management of Process Technology Adoption: A Case Study of Enterprise-Fawcett. Honours Thesis (page 47). Mount Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick. 1995.
43 Ibid. (page 135)
44 Ibid. (page 136)
45 “Historic Sackville Foundry in Flames”. CBC News (January, 2012). https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/historic-sackville-foundry-in-flames-1.1261856
1. Brief History of Enamel & Heating Products Ltd.
From the collection of books made available to the author from the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre such as financial and managerial records, board meeting minutes and correspondence between the Royal Bank and Enamel & Heating Ltd. With regards to detailed financial figures, I do not have sufficient knowledge to infer much from these numbers. However, the correspondence and other written communications were very useful.
2. Cooper, George L. Sackville, New Brunswick During the Great Depression, 1929-1939. Honours thesis, Sackville, NB. 1889.
A detailed account of Sackville’s experiences in the Great Depression – significant insights into the role that the foundries played at that time along with other economic/social conditions. However, the amount of actual information on the foundries was rather scarce although the information available seems to be quite unique; did not come across any of the more detailed discussions of the foundries anywhere else.
3. “Enterprise Foundry”. Canada’s Historic Places. Parks Canada.
4. Fawcett Foundry-Lewis Appliance Corporation Correspondence.
From the collection brought to the author from the Boultenhouse Heritage Centre. Correspondence between Fawcett Foundry and Lewis Appliance Corporation (LAC) in Johannesburg, SA. The contents of the correspondence detail a contest held by LAC and Fawcett. The prize of the contest is a stove and the contest itself is a written letter or story explaining why one deserves the free stove. A copy of the winning entrant is attached as well as multiple pictures from an event in which they award the winner the stove.
5. Forsey, Eugene. Trade Unions in Canada: 1812-1902. University of Toronto Press. 1982.History of Trade Unions in Canada and their movements, negotiations and strikes. Sackville is mentioned a number of times.
6. George, Jeff A., The Management of Process Technology Adoption: A Case Study of Enterprise-Fawcett. Honours Thesis (1995), Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB.
A rigorous exploration of the actual business workings of the Enterprise-Fawcett foundry and mainly with regards to the more modern experiences of the foundry (1960s till closure). It provides an interesting timeline of events for Enterprise foundry which otherwise was difficult to find information on. However, there was not much information with regards to wartime. In fact, the timeline skipped over, or ignored, both wars. Information is gathered largely from personal interviews which makes it quite unique.
7. Hamilton, William B. At The Crossroads, Gaspereau Press. 2004.
Possibly the best book for general information which assisted greatly with timelines.
8. Milner, W.C. History of Sackville, New Brunswick.
Deals mainly with settler families although there was some information on the foundries.
9. “New Brunswick At War”. Government of New Brunswick Archives.
Brief discussion of New Brunswick during World War II. Covers the eve of the war, recruitment and mobilization, civil support for the Effort (including industrial war-time production of munitions, etc.) although nothing specific on Sackville.
10.“Sackville NB – Enamel and Heating May 30, 1931”. Marshland: Records of Life on the Tantramar. Mount Allison University.
11.This is Sackville. “Enamel & Heating Corp., Ltd.”
This is a tabloid-like information booklet with a couple paragraphs on each of the foundries
Wednesday, October 10, 7 pm
“The Ballad of Jacob Peck”
Part of our series on Local History Mysteries in partnership with the Tantramar Family Resource Centre. Reverend John Perkin will be talking about the murder of Mercy Hall, who was killed by her brother Amos Babcock in 1805. The murder had several witnesses and was committed when Babcock was in a religious frenzy. Among many intriguing aspects of the case is whether or not Jacob Peck, an itinerant preacher whose sermons are thought to have contributed directly to the killing, should have been charged with murder as well. Join us at the Anderson Octagonal House, 29 Queens Rd., Sackville to learn more about this and to have a chance to win a copy of a book about the case. Admission is free and light refreshments will be served.
Tuesday, October 16, 7:30 pm
Book Launch, “Stephen Millidge, the Surprising Life of a Sackville Loyalist” by W. Eugene Goodrich
The author will give a 50 minute presentation on aspects of Millidge’s life, followed by questions and the launch of this, our 34th publication. Based on a variety of previously uninvestigated original source material, the author presents a very comprehensive study of Sackville Loyalist Stephen Millidge, merchant-trader, storekeeper, High Sheriff and Deputy Crown Surveyor. The book is extremely well researched and presents detailed information on economic, legal and intellectual life of Sackville in the 1790s and early 1800s. It will be of great interest to all who are interested in the Town’s historical beginnings. Light refreshments will be served. Admission is free and all are welcome.
Wednesday, October 24, 7 pm
“Reader Be Thou Also Ready: The William Fawcett Murder”
The final in our series on Local History Mysteries in partnership with the Family Resource Centre. In 1832, wealthy Sackville farmer William Fawcett was shot through his kitchen window. His murder remains unsolved to this day, but the family dynamics and events that led to his death are fascinating and were recounted in a book by Robert James and a play produced by Live Bait Theatre in 2015, both titled “Reader Be Thou Also Ready.” Local author Charlie Scobie will read from the book and talk about the events around the murder at the Anderson Octagonal House, 29 Queens Rd. Those in attendance will have a chance to win a copy of the book. Admission is free and light refreshments will be served.
Tuesday, November 6, 7:30 pm
Film screening, “Unnatural Landscapes”, and presentation on MMRA
Producer and researcher Ron Rudin will screen for the first time his short documentary film (22 minutes in length) and talk about his work on the MMRA. Unnatural Landscapes tells the story of the marshlands of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, particularly during the period after World War II, when the Maritime Marshland Rehabilitation Administration (MMRA) was tasked by the federal government to rebuild or replace the region’s dykes and aboiteaux. Building on interviews with individuals with a variety of connections with the marshlands, the film encourages reflection on what it means for a landscape to be “natural.” Join us at the Anderson Octagonal House, 29 Queens Rd., Sackville, NB. Admission is free.