Dick Foundry

  • William Dick was born in 1840 in Albion Township 1 to Scottish immigrants, Alexander and Jane Dick 2
  • At 18, William was apprenticed to a blacksmith in Kleinburg; on completion, he operated a blacksmith shop in that village before returning to Albion Township around 1868 with his wife Elizabeth Graham, a daughter of William Graham 
  • A block of land fronting on King Street East in Bolton between David, Willow and George Streets was purchased in Elizabeth’s name in March 1868 3
  • By 1869 William had built a small foundry/forge on the site and started out his business manufacturing ploughs
  • There is some confusion about the site of this first foundry.  In some references, notably that of J.H. Bolton 4, the site is described as a block of land bounded on one side by Maria Street 5. But perhaps Maria Street was a locally used substitute for George Street since, in that era, there were two other mapped streets named George    
  • William’s business was very successful and in 1874, he started acquiring land for expansion on the village’s west side along the Humber River 6
  • He built a large foundry structure, his second, which was powered by the adjacent Humber River.  The casting part of the operation would have been ‘flame’ driven
  • A map in the 1877 Historical Atlas of Peel County places this foundry on Slancy Street and depicts an extensive mill race running from a dam at the top of Dick Street to the foundry
An artist’s rendering of William Dick’s ‘future’ foundry. Sackville St. hill is depicted in bkgd Source: Historical Atlas of Peel County 1877 pg 18

 

  • William’s foundry was a major commercial success producing a wide assortment of agricultural implements such as: sawing machines, straw cutters, threshing machines, sulky horse rakes, root cutters, cultivators, gang ploughs, machine jacks, iron road scrapers, sugar kettles, reapers, mowers,  sleighs….
  • When the atlas was printed, he had plans to create a much larger physical plant (biographical notice pg 67)
  • But in early 1879, the second foundry was destroyed by fire resulting in a huge loss with the destruction of machinery, moulds, inventory and records
  • The Dick residence also burned down in the fire.  Recently widowed, William moved his young family to a house on Hickman Street
  • William rebuilt, but not exactly as depicted in the Peel Atlas.  The new foundry, his third, was a frame structure with vertical board-and-batten exterior cladding
  • The business was re-named ‘Dick Agricultural Works’ 

William Dick’s third foundry built after the second burned down in 1879. Photo circa 1911

 

William Dick House, built c.1880 49 Sterne Street in Bolton

 

  • Around 1882, he built a magnificent 15 room brick house, and on its completion, married Miss Flora Thomson
  • In the early 1880s, William Dick pioneered the concept of a storefront showroom to display his agricultural implements.  The building is what is now 62 Queen Street North
  • After William’s death in 1913, his son Thomson took control re-naming the business T.A. Dick Farm Implement Mfg & Repair
  • After yet another fire in 1914, the foundry was rebuilt for a third time but this time in brick and without the moulding wing 
  • In 1915, Thomson Dick built a brick showroom at 42 Queen Street North on the site of what had been David Pearcy’s frame harness shop
  • Thomson also sold the area’s first Chevrolet in 1916; gasoline pumps were later installed in front of the showroom
  • In 1947, the foundry was sold; by 1954, farm machinery production had ceased

42 Queen Street North, Source: ABHS

 

62 Queen St North today

 

And the buildings and other structures?

  • It is not known what happened to the original foundry building on King Street East.  But around 1910, several large Edwardian Classical style houses were built on the site.  These homes were demolished in 1988 to make way for what is now the east end of the Courtyards of Caledon parking lot
  • The Slancy Street foundry site is now 60 Ann Street, the ‘River’s Edge’ condo
  • William Dick’s home at 49 Sterne Street still stands.  It was acquired by the King Nursing Home and the original structure has been swallowed up by expansions to that facility
  • The showroom building at 62 Queen Street North remains.  The additions to the north side of the building sit on land reclaimed from the Humber River in the early 1960s
  • The 1915 building at 42 Queen Street North is also standing.  It was re-bricked by the owners of Molisana’s Bakery in the late 1980s
  • The area around what was the c.1875 dam and millrace is now known as Dick’s Dam park
42 Queen Street North today

 

Standing: Harry Sheardown, ?, ?, ?, Seated: ?, Jimmy Stubbs, William (Billie) Bell, ??, William Dick

 

  1. Lot 6 Concession 4, ALBION
  2. Historical Atlas of Peel
  3. Lot 24, Blk 2, BOL7.  Abstract Index to Deeds, Albion Township, Region of Peel Archives
  4. A Brief History of Bolton
  5. Maria Street was surveyed and  mapped out in 1860 on Samuel Walford’s adjacent property and could have been considered as an extension to the earlier named George Street; however,  Walford’s land was not developed in his lifetime and the mapped streets  on the steep hill appear to have existed in name only
  6. This area, owned by William Plummer, was initially surveyed in 1872