||Conestogo, Waterloo Region, Ontario
||Perine Brothers, Conestogo, Ontario
||Perine Brothers (Conestogo Site) Conestogo |
||Buildings and Organizations
||31 Aug 2011 |
- M.B. Perine (1815-1898) , W.D. Perine and J.S. Perine (1820-1880), were three brothers of Huguenot stock who migrated from New York State to Waterloo County in the 1850s. Perine Brothers was a name long associated with flax mills in Waterloo County.
In 1854 mills were opened at Conestogo and Doon. W.D. Perine soon returned to the United States but his two brothers expanded the mill at Doon into a twine and rope factory and another flax mill was established at Floradale. The firm name eventually became the Doon Twine and Cordage Company with E.G. Perine (1866-1911), son of M.B. Perine, as president from 1898 until 1911.
The Conestoga mill was purchased by Henry Ebel in 1904 and continued in operation until 1949. The Floradale mill was sold to J.B. Snyder in 1911 and the Doon mill was reorganized as Doon Twines, Limited, a firm that is still in operation in Kitchener in 1972.1a
1aWaterloo Region Hall of Fame 2011
The Perine brothers, Moses, Joseph and William, moved to Canada West from Troy, New York, in the early 1850s. Curious neighbors in Doon would have appreciated the influx of capital into the local lumber industry, but might have been skeptical of the brothers' rumored flax project. Their accounts reveal that they left a homestead farm in April, 1854 and took an inventory of the stock, tools, livestock and grain which were to be sold to the new owner. Flax or flax products do not appear on the list. Where the Perines' interest in flax originated is unknown, but we do know that it was part of their business in Doon from the very first transactions. On April 19, 1854 they paid for "Planks to Build Flax Mill," and they sold flax seed to farmer clients as early as May, 1854. It seems likely that the flax mill was built close to or adjacent to their sawmill in Doon and the business accounts titled "Doon" recorded transactions from both businesses.
In the following decades the Perines' business evolved and eventually consolidated its interests in cordage manufacturing. The Doon mills remained the business headquarters until the factory was moved to Kitchener at the end of the First World War, under the name Doon Twines. The business continues to operate in Kitchener as Canada Cordage Inc. From the1860s until it moved to the country's urban centre it was the most important industry in Doon and, during the 1880s, in all of Waterloo Township. In the late 19th century Doon became known as Towtown after the mill's major industrial output. In 1861, according to Elizabeth Bloomfield [Waterloo Township through Two Centuries, Kitchener, ON, Waterloo Historical Society, 1995] the Perines were not among the leading 100 rural property-holders of Waterloo Township, but by 1881 they were seventh in the township with property worth $9,000. At the turn of the century their mills were worth $31,000 - the most valuable property in the township.
In 1871, the Perine mill at Doon was among the larger mills with 29 workers (20 men and boys with nine women and girls), and its fixed capital was over twice the average for flax mills and almost four times that of the average cordage mills.
...Hannah Perine died 12 years later [than 1863] and was buried in Berlin.
Even as a teenager in Doon, Homer Watson was recognized as a talented artist. Moses Bilings Perine commissioned the young man to paint a portrait of his mother, Hannah Bilings Perine. This 1870s work by Watson was copied from an earlier, anonymous painting. Both portraits are in the permanent collection of the City of Kitchener's Home Watson House & Gallery.
Around 1900, photographer Oscar Stroh stood behind the Schweitzer Hotel on King Street (now Sawmill Road), Conestogo and faced northwest to take this picture of the flax mill on Glasgow Street North. The mill is gone but the Ebel home remains.2a
2aExcerpts from "The Perine Flax and Lumber Mills in Ontario, 1854 - 1871," by Josua D. MacFadyen, Waterloo Historical Society Volume 93 - 2005, pp. 51 - 75. Used with permission of the author and Waterloo Historical Society.