Iron, Steam and Wood: 150 Years With the Waterous Engine Works Company

Book Review


| January/February 2001



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Mike Hand is a retired Canadian engineer with a keen interest in manufacturing history. In this, his third book, he tells the complete story of a Brantford, Canada, firm from its early 1830s beginnings until the end of the twentieth century.

Hand has pursued his story through family and industry sources, beginning with the opening of Philip Van Brocklin and Elijah Leonard's Foundry in 1848 in St. Thomas, Ontario. Charles Waterous, a native of Vermont, joined the firm after the failure of his own business in the U. S. Ultimately, Waterous bought out his partners.

By 1854, Waterous patented the first circular saw mill built in Canada. Throughout the following decades, gristmills, edgers, trimmers and a shingle mill were added to the line.

Boilers were another early product, and over 2,500 vertical Champion portable steam engines were sold. The portables were based on the design of David June, one of Waterous' Ohio relatives.

Charles Waterous had six sons, all of whom were employed by his company at some time in their lives.

Although Charles died in 1892, the company continued to grow and (mostly) thrive into the twentieth century, as the product line continually diversified to meet new markets.