After the turn of the 20th century, this area around Sherman Avenue North was well-known as the city’s “manufacturers’ annex.” American-born Henry L. Frost moved his small Welland fence plant here in 1904 to be closer to raw materials and electricity. Some of the original buildings of the Frost Wire Fence Company still stand along the north side of Princess Street, stretching east from the corner of Sherman Avenue North.
At first, the company’s operations were housed in a single, two-storey building. A few years later, the growing business added wire drawing and galvanizing mills to its product line. By 1918, the company — now the Frost Steel and Wire Company — produced the first chain-link fencing in Canada. Four years later, it bought the Banwell-Hoxie Fence Company, located directly behind the Frost plant on Princess Street. Stelco took over the company in 1937. Although it is no longer operating, the Frost Wire Fence was owned most recently by the Advanced Fence and Manufacturing Company of Brampton.
Wilbert O’Hanley started working here in 1913 as a helper, underneath the plant’s giant fence looms. A year later, he began working the looms. The loom was a big, noisy piece of machinery. Its great spindles wove a wire mesh that was locked into place using patented Frost tight-locks. By 1958, O’Hanley had spun enough farm fencing to circle the entire globe — and then some.