Northern Rubber Company
The Beginnings of the Northern Rubber Company in the Ward
The Northern Rubber Company Limited was established in Guelph during what Dr. Terry Crowley describes as the second stage of development in St. Patrick's Ward during which large factories began proliferating throughout the Ward from the 1880s until the 1970s. The Northern Rubber Company is located at the corner of Alice Street and Huron Street in the Ward and began producing rubber based footwear in April of the year 1920. The building, which is still standing today, is a five storey building of reinforced concrete.
Though the Northern Rubber Company sourced from African and Asian suppliers which had attrocious working conditions, many people in the Ward found employment through it. The Northern Rubber Company employed approximately 600 people and boasted the most floor space of any Guelph industry. Amongst the Northern Rubber Company's employees were Guelph's current Member of Parliament, Frank Valeriote's parents who dated at Carere's coffee shop across the street from the factory. Indeed, the Northern Rubber Company is a prime example of James Walter Lyon's planned integration of industrial establishments and residential housing.
A Local Undertaking
The Northern Rubber Company was locally controlled and managed, sustained by local capital and producing footwear for a national market. Involved in the company's management were the local Kennedy family who had ties through marriage to the Bell family: another powerful group of locals. The company's management not only maintained local control of the Northern Rubber Company but also held shares in other local companies such as the Guelph White Lime Company and the Guelph-based Dalyte Electrical Company.
The Decline of the Northern Rubber Company
Following the Second World War, the Northern Rubber Company scaled back its workforce from around 600 to 300 - 400 people. Also during the post-war period, the factory began to slip from local control to foreign capital. During the post-war period the Northern Rubber facotry became Dominion Rubber, then Uniroyal, followed by its present day ownership by the American multinational chemical producer, Chemtura Corporation.