The Legacy of Frost & Wood: Outstanding in their Field
Heritage House Museum
Smiths Falls, Ontario
13. Frost & Wood Today
1Even though the area looks drastically different today, residents of Smiths Falls still remember hearing the whistle from the Frost & Wood factory fifty-seven years later.
3A retail business on Chambers street began expanding their building during the summer of 2011. Much to the surprise of many, parts of the Frost & Wood head office's foundation was uncovered by construction workers.
The building's old brick and stone foundation can be seen in this photo. Soon after the photo was taken, the foundation was filled in and a parking lot put in its place.
5Today, the North End plant remains to be one of the few buildings left standing that was once part of the legacy of Frost & Wood.
After it was owned by the Cockshutt Plow Company, the building was also a textile plant. An employee of the textile company remembered a hoist marked "Department of National Defence" in the building, which serves as a reminder of the building's past.
7Elmcroft, the former home to Senator Frost, still stands today. Built in the 1895, the home once boasted two halls, a dining room, two staircases, a library and stables, to mention a few. The home was so big, that a freight car load of coal was needed every winter to heat the building.
Founder of Rideau Beverages, a bottler for the Coca Cola Company, J. Clark Ketchum bought Elmcroft in the 1930s. Due to water damage, Ketchum eventually removed the top floor of the home completely.
Eventually, a new owner sold off most of the home's front lawn. New homes were then built on the land, effectively obstructing the view of Elmcroft from passersby.
9Frost & Wood machinery can still be found today throughout the country in museum or private collections. Organizations like the International Cockshutt Club have become important resources and have ensured the histories of the Cockshutt Plow Company and Frost & Wood are remembered.
11Even though Frost & Wood is gone, little pieces can be found all over. Lids from tool boxes, tractor seats, signs, and grenades have been found scattered in the homes and antique businesses throughout Lanark County and beyond.
13After World War II, the Malleable also fell on hard times. The plant was able to rebuild after a fire in 1947, but the company never totally rebounded back to pre-war production levels. The Malleable closed down in 1964, adding to the mass unemployment created by the closure of Frost & Wood a few years before.
Kids in town, however, loved running through the empty Malleable building. As a boy, Ken Graham remembers playing in the building and rummaging through everything that had been left behind. The empty Malleable plant was also a haven for local scrap-metal collectors.
On May 18, 1967, the Malleable succumbed to fire. Within five minutes of the fire alarm sounding, the plant was totally engulfed in flames. The damage was estimated to be upwards of $50,000. After the 1967 fire, all remnants of the Malleable were gone, but eventually other businesses like Canadian Tire moved to the site.
15Cockshutt-Frost & Wood once owned another building in town called the Chalmers Building on the corner of William and Market Streets. Built in 1931, the company put the building up for sale in 1949. The Department of Public Works heard of the sale and offered Frost & Wood $28,000 for the building.
General Manager, Ed Ryan, felt the building was worth $35,000 and rejected the offer. The company was hoping to get as much money for the property as possible, with hopes of putting the profits towards upgrades needed at the North End Plant. Unwilling to budge, the Department of Public Works warned Frost & Wood that if the company did not agree on the price, the property would be expropriated by the government. With their hands tied, Cockshutt-Frost & Wood agreed. The building was sold and on February 1, 1950, a Corporal's Guard from Kingston, Ontario took possession of the building and converted the space into an armoury
17When Frost & Wood closed in 1955, it took some time to clear out what was left once everyone was gone. Some items were shipped to the Cockshutt Plant in Brantford, but others were put up for auction.
In the late 1950s, a donation of $500.00 was made to St. Bede's Anglican Church in Montague Township. At the auction, St. Bede's used the donation to buy an oak door and panelling that had originally lined the walls of the Frost & Wood head office. Today, the panelling can still be seen in the church's sanctuary.
19Today, the legacy of the Frost & Wood Company is remembered by history enthusiasts, private collectors, family members, and past employees scattered around the world.
Unlike other companies that have been a part of our community, the Frost & Wood Company was home grown. Frost & Wood was the heart and soul of the Town of Smiths Falls for many years. It was owned and operated by those who were born and raised in Smiths Falls, and when the company closed its doors, many were afraid the town would never recover.
For 116 years, the company employed the vast majority of the town's people at some point in their lives, brought business to town, and more importantly, invested in the growth and wellbeing of their hometown. Like many industrially driven towns, Smiths Falls continued to go through hard times, but the closing of Frost & Wood was not the death sentence some thought it might be.
Before this Virtual Museum project, there was no lasting memorial celebrating this significant part of the history of Smiths Falls and area. As a community museum, the Heritage House Museum saw the need to preserve this story and continues to add to its Frost & Wood collection.
Through this project the residents of Smiths Falls, surrounding communities and individuals living across Canada have bonded together to ensure the story of the Frost & Wood is not only told, but remembered as well. Many companies have come and gone from Smiths Falls, but few have been as cherished and remembered as the Frost & Wood Company.
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