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Manufacturers Index - Cant, Laidlaw & Co.
Last Modified: Jul 20 2014 2:14PM by Jeff_Joslin
If you have information to add to this entry, please contact the Site Historian.

This business operated as the Ontario Machine Works. Cant, Laidlaw & Co., Cant, Gourlay & Co., MacGregor, Gourlay & Co., and Cant Bros., have intertwined histories that can confuse the unwary.

William W. Laidlaw owned a sash, door and blind factory, Hugh Cant made saddles and harnesses, and Adam Cant was a machinist and inventor. In 1882 those men established Cant, Laidlaw & Co., doing business as the Ontario Machine Works. In later years the company would claim that they were established in 1864 but an 1886 source says otherwise. A search has not turned up any directory listings for this firm from the 1860s or 1870s.

Do you have more information?

I am especially interested in woodworking machinery manufacturers from Ontario, particularly Cambridge, and most particularly this and related firms. If you have any information on relevant woodworking machinery companies and products, I strongly urge you to contact the Historian.

Information Sources

  • Lovell's Canadian Dominion Directory for 1871 lists Hugh Cant (probably Junior, since there is a separate listing for a widow of Hugh Cant) as a saddler. "William W. Laidlaw" was the name of a sash, door and blind factory. The factory was on North Water street and Laidlaw's residence was on King street. There is also a listing for Mrs. Beattie Laidlaw, "widow William West Main st.", possibly the father of our William W. Laidlaw. John Ross is listed as a machinist on Cedar street. There is no listing for any business bearing the Cant name, nor is there a listing for Alex G. Gourlay; the only Gourlay listing is for James Gourlay, described as a "finisher".
  • Thanks to City of Cambridge archivist Jim Quantrell for providing some of the information in this listing. Thanks also to John Bartley for providing us with scans of several of the primary sources quoted below.
  • The Waterloo County Gazetteer and Directory for 1884-5 lists "CANT, LAIDLAW & CO (John Cant, Wm Laidlaw, and Hugh and A Cant), Ontario Machine Works, mnfrs wood working machinery, iron tools, &c, W Main cor Cedar". It also says, "The Ontario Machine Works were established in 1882 and employs 30 hands in the manufacture of wood-working machinery, iron tools, &c. Cant, Laidlaw & Co." The same source has listings for Cant, Gourlay & Co.
  • The Ontario Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1884-5 lists "Cant, Laidlaw & Co (John and Hugh Cant, Wm W. Laidlaw, Andrew Cant), mnfrs wood working machinery, w Main".
  • According to a 2002 article in the "Cambridge Times", this business was established in 1864 by Alex G. Gourlay, Hugh Cant, Jr., and Messrs. Laidlaw and Ross; Laidlaw and Ross left the business in 1872, and the firm became Cant, Gourlay & Co.