Forsyth & Company Agricultural Works

In 1846, Julius P. Billington, a New Yorker, founded the Wentworth Agricultural Works on Hatt Street, west of McMurray Street. John Forsyth was taken into the firm as a partner in 1855. The company made agricultural implements and stoves until 1861 when they began making sewing machines.

The factory was known as the Vulcan Works in 1858, and they employed twenty hands. By 1862 they were making farm implements, stoves, scales, and other machinery with an annual value of $30,000, employing fifteen workers. The company had forty employees by 1863.

By December 1864, they were manufacturing the machinery needed to make the first wood screws in Canada. At that time there were only three other screw factories in the world. This successful enterprise was taken over by the newly organized Canada Screw Company in 1866, where Julius Billington, who left the Wentworth Agricultural Works in 1865, was manager.

Forsyth continued making agricultural implements, as well as machinery for processing wool, cotton and flax under the name Forsyth and Company and by 1871 employed thirty-five workers.  He won best combined mower and reaper at a Provincial Exhibition in 1871. In 1874, William Russell joined the firm.

On December 12, 1876 the firm of John Forsyth & Co. was dissolved. Forsyth sold out to E. and C. Gurney and Co., a Hamilton stove manufacturing firm, and the name was changed to Gurney, Russell and Co. They manufactured grain drills (seeders), sulky hay rakes, straw cutters, reapers and mowers. Later, they concentrated on making just the latter two implements, calling them the “Harvest Queen” reaper and the “Planet” mower.  By 1886 they were turning out about 400 units per year at their shops and yard on Hatt Street which covered about 3 acres.

In the meantime, John Forsyth had moved to Hamilton in 1878 to open an implement store there.

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