Waterous Engine Works Co. Ltd.

A brief history of the Waterous Engine Works Co. Ltd.


| March/April 1990



Waterous Steam Roller

1912 Waterous steam roller owned by William Chambergain, Clear Creek, Ontario, Canada, at the Norwich District Historical Society’s Show.

Jack C. Norbeck

Failed venture gave rise to new company

Back in the early 1830s Philip C. Van Brocklin, who had learned the trade of a moulder in the New England states, moved to Canada to work in the iron foundry at Normandale, Ontario.

There he met with another New Englander by the name of Leonard and the two decided to pool their small resources and start a foundry at St. Thomas. The venture was not a success so the partners separated to try new fields.

Leonard went a few miles north to London while Van Brocklin moved on 50 miles east to the hamlet of Brantford, Ontario, where, in 1844, he built a small foundry, machine shop and began the manufacture of pioneer agricultural implements.

In 1849 Charles H. Waterous entered the firm and under his careful management the business began to grow, slowly but steadily. Steam power replaced the small tread horsepower, the buildings were enlarged and new lines of machinery were manufactured.

By 1860 the company was known as C.H. Waterous & Company and in 1874 was incorporated as The Waterous Engine Works Co., Limited.

Introduction of D. June’s Champion engine

In 1877, David June developed and patented the Champion engine and, being connected with the family, gave the patent rights for Canada to the Waterous Company. Nine engines were built in the first year; 85 in 1879; 210 in 1880 and so on until over 1,800 upright Champions were sold.

By 1886 Waterous was well known for its horse-drawn steam fire engines. In 1898 Waterous revolutionized fire fighting by introducing the first gasoline powered pumper. By 1906 the first gasoline powered self-propelled pumper was introduced.

Steam traction engines in Canada

The Waterous firm pioneered in the steam traction engine field in Canada, coming out with its first steam traction engine in 1881.

In 1896 the Waterous Co. began building steam traction engines in the 18 HP size with 8-3/4-by-10-inch cylinder, using the same gearing and controls as the Buffalo-Pitts steam traction engines made in the USA.