Brown Boggs

(1890) Brown Boggs Company Ltd.

Machine tool fitter, Jack Watt, remembers his time at Brown Boggs.

Until recently, Brown Boggs was this region’s oldest surviving machine tool builder. Workers here built power presses, shears, sheet metal equipment and other machinery for the metal industry. The company was founded in 1890 by John Mootry Brown and Nathaniel Glass Boggs. The partners built a new foundry and pattern and machine shops on this 8-acre site in the east end “manufacturers’ annex” in 1913. In 1996, the firm moved to a new plant in Ancaster. The company moved to Toronto in 2006.

Brown Boggs began as a small machine shop at the south-east corner of Bay Street and York Street. John Mootry Brown and Nathaniel Glass Boggs had learned the trade as apprentices in the Hamilton shop of Samuel J. Moore, Canada’s first manufacturer of tinsmith’s tools. In 1893, the partners bought out their former employer and moved into his larger shop at the corner of Victoria Avenue and King William Street. This served as their main plant for the next 61 years. In 1954, all operations were consolidated here on the east end site.

The work required moulders, tool fitters, welders, coremakers, shake-out men and operators of drills, milling machines, grinder cutters and lathes. Like Westinghouse and other metalworking firms, Brown Boggs faced the unionization efforts of their most skilled moulders and machinists in the early 20th century. These unions did not survive, but by 1946 all of Brown Boggs’ production workers were organized as Local 520 of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America.