Arthur E. Snelgrove Casket Manufactory

(1850s)

Snelgrove


This building is one of the few to survive from the era when most manufacturing in Hamilton was performed by skilled artisans inside small shops. It was built sometime before the mid-1850s to house the carpentry shop for Arthur Snelgrove’s casket-manufacturing business. Snelgrove used the caskets produced in this shop to supply his undertaking business, the Hamilton Funeral Establishment, located nearby on the east side of John Street between King and Jackson Streets.

After Arthur Snelgrove’s death, the business was carried on by Elizabeth Snelgrove. She was one of the city’s very few businesswomen at that time. The casket manufactory was still a modest operation in 1871, employing two men, a boy and a girl. This well-preserved rubblestone building has served as a bar and restaurant in more recent years.

It was common for undertakers to manufacture the caskets they sold. They often trained as cabinet-makers or upholsterers before moving into the undertaking business. Arthur Snelgrove offered furniture-upholstering services in addition to casket manufacture and undertaking. The city’s other undertaker, John Blachford, moved into the business after first working as a cabinet-maker and upholsterer in the 1840s.