George White & Sons Company History

George White & Sons Company helped move Canada's agriculture forward


| March/April 2001



George White 75 HP steam traction engine built in 1926

George White 75 HP steam traction engine built in 1926, London, Ontario, Canada. Owned by Williams Grove Historical Steam Engine Association Inc., Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Photo by Jack C. Norbeck

Norbeck Research 117 N. Ruch Street, #8 Coplay, Pennsylvania 18037

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 missing.

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 a 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 Canada.