The brief ownership of the stone building at 40 Mill Street North by the Slater family during the late 1880s was followed by a succession of commercial operations that included a flour and feed mill, a butcher shop and a toy factory. As well, living quarters, and for a time a dance hall, were to be found in the upstairs of the building.
Financial problems were experienced by owner Andrew Struthers in 1918 and for the next two years there were legal problems and wrangling over the property and premises. The auction at the American Hotel attempted to settle the problem, but no buyers were forthcoming. Finally in March 1923, George Nicholson and his partner, Harlan Stetler, purchased the building and established a food processing operation.
Beginning with the drying of apples, the building was converted into large scale jam production by 1930. The factory supplied local bakeries such as Weil’s and Jackson of Hamilton and bakeries and restaurants in Niagara Falls, Burlington, London, Milton and Toronto.
Apples were processed year-round, with most of the apple crop supplied by growers from Waterdown, East Flamborough and Millgrove. The fruit was kept in cold storage in the village, the Niagara Peninsula and as far away as Collingwood. Used mainly for applesauce and frozen apples for pie filling, apples ensured steady year round work. During the year, rhubarb, strawberries, apricots, peaches, plums, raspberries, cherries and grapes for jams, jellies, pie fillings and frozen fruit were all produced by the company for their large market.
Among the interesting changes made to the building once it became an established commercial operation was the addition of a large elevator that came from the Brant House in Burlington.
In 1930, the Carson family of Waterdown transported the elevator to the village and technicians from the Otis Elevator Company installed it, with the glass panels being removed and replaced with a cast bronze and wooden door.
During the 1980s the market for the company’s products shrunk dramatically, so the factory was closed after 50 years of food and jam production and once again the building reverted to housing a variety of village businesses.
Sylvia Wray is the former archivist with the Flamborough Archives. She can be reached through the Archives at email@example.com.
This article was originally published in the Flamborough Review, 20 January 2011.