M9188.8.131.527 | Commercial trademark of The Canadian Rubber Co of Montreal
Commercial trademark of The Canadian Rubber Co of Montreal
John Henry Walker (1831-1899)
1850-1885, 19th century
Ink on paper on supporting paper - Wood engraving
4.1 x 5.6 cm
Gift of Mr. David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords: commercial (1771) , Print (10661) , Sign and symbol (2669)
Keys to History
Created in 1854 in Montreal, the Canadian Rubber Co. was the first rubber company in Canada. Originally, the company produced only boots and shoes, and later expanded its product line to add fire hoses, tires, and other products.
In 1891, the Canadian Rubber Co. employed 700 people, who represented the majority of the 892 people working for the five rubber companies in Montreal. The rubber sector hired a large number of women and children. In 1891, they accounted for 33% of this sector's labour force.
Two years earlier, John James McGill, Director of the Canadian Rubber Co., said in front of the Royal Commission on Relations of Labour and Capital in Canada on the subject of hiring children in his company, "They are not exactly children. We have about twenty-four boys and girls. They range in age perhaps from fourteen up." The businessman believed that no child under 14 worked in his factory, but admitted however that "it is difficult to take their ages, and if their parents say they are old enough, we employ them." Since 1885, the Quebec Manufacturer's Act prohibited boys under 12 and girls under 14 from being hired. Moreover, to hire a boy between the ages of 12 and 14, the employer had to obtain a certificate attesting the child's age from a parent, guardian or physician.
This engraving represents the trademark of the Canadian Rubber Co. Its designer, John Henry Walker, illustrated many business catalogues, newspapers, including Canadian Illustrated News, L'Opinion publique and Le Monde illustré, various books, government reports and advertisements.
In a good number of plants at the end of the nineteenth century, there were practically no measures in place to ensure worker safety. In 1889, for example, the Canadian Rubber Co. plant, located on Notre-Dame Street in Montreal, made fire hoses for fire trucks. At the same time, their employees had no access to fire escapes...
As the director of the Canadian Rubber Co. explained, when questioned in 1888 by the Royal Commission on Relations of Labour and Capital in Canada, regarding children working for him, "They are not made to stay over their ten hours, unless they have work to do. If they do not wish to remain we do not request them to stay, but they are willing to do it."
William Brown, Ashley Hibbard and Georges Bourn, three Montreal businessmen, founded the Canadian Rubber Co. in 1854.