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Author Norbeck and the Norbeck Research Library, which now contains over 500 binders of history and information.
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Norbeck Research,117 Ruch Street Coplay, PA 18037

John Calder’s George White & Sons V-1923 engine graces
the cover of this issue. Story about George White & Sons by
Jack Norbeck, author of The Encyclopedia of Steam Traction

George White was born in Devonshire, England. As a young man he
learned the blacksmith trade at his father’s wagon-building
shop and had he not decided to visit Canada on his wedding trip, a
name prominent in the annals of Canadian industry might be

Arriving at London, Ontario, Canada in 1857, George White was
delighted with the young country and decided to stay and open up a
blacksmith and general repair shop in the fast growing city.
However, he was soon enticed with the prospect of owning a hundred
acres of land and the next few years found him farming a few miles
north of London. White’s knowledge of iron working became too
well known and his services were so much in demand that he decided
to move back to the city and reopen shop. Business was good and his
small shop grew steadily and soon became known as the Forest City
Machine Works.

During his farming days George White became conscious of the
great need for a suitable agricultural steam engine and since he
had the shop and tools, he began to work on plans for the
manufacture of such an engine. Several small steam engines were
designed and built. When he was satisfied with his engine, he set
about acquiring the necessary boiler making machinery. Finally,
sometime in the early 70s, his first portable farm engine was
completed, to be followed by many hundreds more known from coast to
coast in Canada as White’s Threshing Engine.

During the late 70s and early 80s, George White made several
pioneer trips to the Canadian West and established his machines in
that fast developing area. The first engines had to be shipped via
U.S. railroads and hauled the long distance north by horses or
oxen. After the Canadian Pacific Railway crossed the prairie, a
large warehouse was built in Brandon, Manitoba, to serve western

In the mid 90s steam traction engines were becoming popular and
to meet this demand the White factory built a number of traction
engines of the return flue type using the U.S. Huber as a

The George White engines were all simple and were built plain
and sturdy. They used no fancy fittings.

Previous to 1898 only engines were built. That year the firm
absorbed the plant of the Mac Pherson Co. of Fingal, Ontario, which
had been building the Challenge separator. This machine, already
highly developed and well known, rounded out the White output
advertised as ‘The first Quality Line.’

Self feeders and rear-cutting attachments were later added and
the challenge was built in all sizes to suit the eastern and
western trade.

When the demand came for gas tractors, the firm became Canadian
agents for the All Work kerosene tractor. Later the John Deere
tractors were handled for many years and then the B. F. Avery
agency was secured.

George White had nine sons and three daughters. After finishing
school, several of the boys started to work in their father’s
factory. Upon completing his apprenticeship, each son was absorbed
into an executive position in the firm which became known in 1880
as the George White & Sons Company. One son was called by the
Lord in 1899 but six of the boys remained with the firm for many
years. One of the younger boys, Ernest, became vice president of
the company.

The last new machine was built in 1924, but engines were
repaired and rebuilt for many years after. The company moved to
large scale threshing machine production which lasted well into the
1950s. Sprayer production began in 1968 and along with tractor
mounted snow blowers represents the major part of George
White’s production today.

In October 1974, the original manufacturing plant was destroyed
by fire and the company moved to a new location in London, Ontario,
Canada. Today, George White sprayers and snow blowers are actively
sold across Canada, in a large portion of the U.S.A. and in some
overseas countries.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment