Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Woodside Brothers Foundry, and a very nice Model "A" Coupe!

My search to find photos of Woodside Brothers Iron Foundry brought me to my friend Dennis Winko(who occasionally writes great articles and supplies wonderful photos for this blog). These Woodside photos with his yellow Model "A" Ford were taken in 1993 when the building still existed. The blue Model "A" Ford in the next photo is the same car as it looks today.
Woodside Brother's Iron Foundry Company of Port Arthur began as the Port Arthur Iron Works in 1883. It was operated by the four Woodside brothers, John, Jim, Tom and William. The plant had the first electric power plant in Port Arthur in 1884, and produced a wide variety of goods over the years such as grain samplers, sewer castings(seen below), an oat hulling machine, stoves, shipbuilding castings, and forestry, sawmill, and railway equipment. At it's peak in the 1930's and 1940's, the plant employed 22 men. It closed in the late 1980's and the last building was torn down in 1997 after a fire.

Dennis' car shown here beside the building is just east of the tracks and just south of Marina Park. The address in a 1958 Fort William and Port Arthur phone book reads: Woodside Machinist and Fdry. Co., 173 Manitou St., phone 4-1451.
They can be proud to say that the foundry operated for nearly 100 years.
The brothers had the distinction of generating the first electricity here in 1888. They were approached by Mr. George Dorman, an electrical engineer from England, who convinced them that with only a few modifications, a steam engine Mr. Woodside had built for use on a power boat could be used to generate electricity. He was right and before long, the brothers' foundry was lit up at night and was the talk of the town.
A local newspaper wrote: "At 750 revolutions to the minute a brilliant steady flame was maintained on a 20 c.p. 50 volt lamp, and though the sun was shining brightly, the electric light cast shadows here and there across that part of the shop....The machine was the first of its kind manufactured and set up between Toronto and Winnipeg."

- So successful was the trial that soon Mr. Caleb Shera(store operator) demanded that power be extended to his dry goods store. When they ran out of copper wire while drawing the line between the foundry and the store, clothesline wire was used instead. Shera's business boomed making him the envy of all other merchants. Soon the whole town had to have electricity too.
The photo on the left is a sewer grate, which is one of hundreds still in use today over the entire city. The photo on the right is a medallion which I found at a yard sale last summer(I had never seen one before) which is quite a bit larger than a quarter or penny.
Click on photos to enlarge!
Thanks again to Dennis Winko for the great photos(maybe you should paint it yellow again Dennis...LOL), and thank you to our museum for the information....Dave


Anonymous said...

Hi Dave
Thank you for researching and showing me a little bit of my family history. I am the great granddaughter of Thomas Woodside, one of the four brothers who owned the Woodside Foundry. I have never seen photos of the foundry, nor the medallion. The pictures are worth a thousand words plus. And the car is pretty cool too.
As an Albertan, I will keep checking your site to learn more of my family roots and the Thunder Bay area.Thanks. Arlene Woodside Goods

Dave said...

Thank you for your comments Arlene. I remember the foundry building well and was always going over to take a photo of my own car there, but alas, the foundry was torn down before I had the chance. If any more information turns up, it will be added as a post. Best Regards to you and thanks again, Dave

Kipthemulti said...

Very pleased to see the Woodside pics! Super! To Arlene Woodside Goods - We are related! My gg grandmother, Mary Anne Woodside, b 1820 Ballinderry Parish, Ireland, was a brother of Thomas Anson Woodside Sr, 1822-1893. Their parents were Sarah Twigg and Thomas James Woodside. Gertrude Wooodside Dyke and her brothers are my 2nd cousins, twice removed.

Thanks again for the Hot Rods et al site. Most excellent!

best regards
Cliff Huber