The Globe File Manufacturing Company — Outram

Frederick Outram (1846-1922) established the Globe File Manufacturing Company in Port Hope in 1888 on the former Beamish Mill property, Cavan Street.
Frederick's father, George Outram (1814-1906) had founded the Dominion File Works in Montreal in 1869 or 1870. Frederick was a partner in that business, which was closed in favour of the Port Hope factory.
The Outrams were file manufacturers in Sheffield, England before George came to Canada in 1863.
Some of the Dominion File workers followed the Outrams to Port Hope.
George Alfred 'Alf' Outram (1872-1948), eldest child and only surviving son of Frederick, eventually became a partner in the business.
In 1901 the Globe was sold to the Nicholson File Company of the United States.
A new File Factory building was opened on Peter Street in 1955.
Nicholson File was taken over by Cooper Industries in 1972, and remained in Port Hope until NAFTA (1994) led to its being moved to Mexico.
For years Alf Outram ran a hardware store at 102 Walton Street, two doors east of Cavan.

from The Dominion Annual Register and Review - 1882
firm name or style: Dominion File Works
when established: 1871 [date varies with the source from 1869 to 1871]
nature of manufactory: Files and rasps
names of partners: George Outram, Sr; Fred Outram, Jr
hands employed: 30
general results for 1881 & 1882: Much improved

from Industries of Canada - Montreal 1886
Dominion File Works, G. Outram & Son.
Offices and Works, St. Gabriel Locks.—One of the largest and most important file works in the city are those conducted by the firm of G. Outram & Son, and known as the Dominion File Works. They were established by Mr. George Outram, who has since associated with him his son, Frederick Outram, and during the time the business has been carried on, it has been successful, and the reputation of the files and rasps manufactured has made them popular in all the markets. The premises occupied by the firm at St. Gabriel Locks are ample and spacious, and the works are fitted up in the best manner. The business is divided into the forging, annealing, grinding, cutting and finishing departments, and about twenty-five hands are continually employed. The files manufactured are both hand and machine made, and every kind and size are produced, and special files are manufactured for all kinds of iron work. The trade of the firm is with the trade direct, and extends over all parts of Canada. Possessing an extended experience in this line of manufacture, the firm are enabled to produce files and rasps which for excellence and superiority and finish are not surpassed by any others made on this Continent, and which will stand the severest tests. The Dominion File Works are highly commended, and as the firm conduct business on a sound, liberal basis, they will be found prompt and reliable in all transactions. Their goods stand foremost among the best and command the attention of the trade, and are always in demand.

from The [Port Hope] Times, April 4, 1889
The Globe File Works is a big place, and its increasing output is necessitating the employment of more help than was estimated for this period of its existence here. The Globe File Works pay sheet will probably equal that of any factory in town, and the fact that all the employees are men is another very desirable feature about it.

File Manufacture
The history of the manufacture of files and rasps in Canada is in close resemblance to that of similar manufactures in this country, and dates away back to 1836, when the country was young and could not support any manufacturing industry, except those carried on after a humble fashion. The National Policy in 1878 has been one of the greatest factors in fostering native industry in this line, and were it not for the protective tariff now in operation, the number of files and rasps made in this country would be reduced to a minimum, and the labour now employed here would be a myth.
File manufacturing in Canada originated with a firm in Montreal named the Messrs. Kinmonds, in 1836, who emigrated from Scotland several years previous, and commenced business by building locomotives for the Grank Trunk Railway. Being a pushing firm, they gradually branched out into the file business, being first located at Montreal, then Hamilton, then removing back to their original base of operations, Montreal. There they continued business for some time, and at last gave up this branch of manufacturing as unprofitable.

The Outram Firm
The Outram firm then came into existence. This was 18 years ago. Messrs. Outram and Son had been employees of the Kinmonds, and on the latter ceasing to manufacture files, the two employees started out for themselves with a nominal capital of $400, and a very uncertain future before them, but possessed of an indomitable courage, which is in many instances more valuable than untold wealth. Their business was all done in a very humble way, but they paid their way as they went. In 1878 a sudden reverse came, caused by bad debts and heavy expenses, but the financial embarrassment did not last long, for the struggling firm paid 100 cents on the dollar, and 5 per cent interest as well on all accounts they owed. Since that time the onward march of progress has been the one characteristic of the firm, until now, with a capital of about $50,000, a big factory and a good business, the institution known as the Globe File Works holds the foremost place in Canada as manufacturers in this particular line of industry.
The name and style of the firm previous to their coming to Port Hope was Messrs. Outram and Son, but recent changes have been made, so that it now reads 'The Globe File Works.' Mr. Outram Sr. retired from the business and Mr. Walter Grosse succeeded as a partner. His headquarters are at Montreal. Almost everyone is familiar with the terms upon which the file works came to this town, for the question was up before the public many times in connection with the trouble with the Electric Light Company. The town agreed to give them the property known as the Beamish mill property, tax exemption for 10 years, and $400 for repairs, providing Messrs. Outram and Son would erect certain buildings, remain in operation ten years and employ a certain number of men for that period. The property was purchased by the town for $7,000, but it is a well-known fact that it is worth double that money if it is worth a cent.
Canadian files have until recently been considered in the hardware markets as of inferior quality to the general make, the English and American brands having had the preference. This was owing to the fact that Canadians could not afford to pay wages enough to retain good workmen, but in recent years matters in this direction have undergone a change. The protective tariff of the present government has placed file manufacturing again on its feet, and today the goods manufactured at the Globe File Works take their place alongside the imported English and American stock.

The Globe File Works
The process of the manufacture of files is about as interesting a subject for inspection as one could imagine. The processes through which the materials are put before they become finished are many and varied, as will be seen from the following description.
The firm has erected a magnificient factory for their business, and have 100 horsepower head of water to propel their machinery. The institution is the largest in Canada, but the competition is very keen, as there are numerous small manufacturerers of files. The Works are situated on the old Beamish property on Cavan Street, running east and west, 165 x 50 feet, with a wing 50 feet x 30 feet extending from the middle of the building northward. The buildings are composed of red brick and are very substantial. The main factory is divided into four divisions called the cutting room, the tempering and forging rooms, the grinding room, and the electric light. The second storey is devoted to a packing and store room, and the business office is also on the second floor.
On entering the west end of the main building, the reporter ascended a wide staircase to the packing room and office, where he found Mr. Outram, coat off and sleeves rolled up, as if he was up to his ears in business. Mr. Outram kindly devoted a good deal of his valuable time in showing us through the factory and explaining the different processes.
The second flat is a large room 75 x 50 feet, in the west end of which the office is located. The office is a pretty little room 20 x 16, partitioned from the main room by a glass partition. The fancy woodwork and a comfortable grate fire add greatly to the appearance of the office, as well as to the comfort of the bookkeeper, Mr. S. S. Reed.
The balance of the second floor is devoted to general ware-housing and packing. As eleven different brands of files are manufactured, it is necessary that a large stock of labels for boxes be carried, one-half a million of which are now in stock. In this large room the files are packed into boxes of dozens and half dozens and shipped.

The Factory
A descent into the factory was then made and it presented a very lively appearance. The wing to the north, 40 x 50 feet, was the first room visited. This room is used as a storehouse for the raw materials, steel, etc., which enter into the manufacture of files, and in it are stored about 50 tons of steel, numerous pulleys, coal, oil, etc. This room is so constructed that in case of increasing business the factory can be easily enlarged. The raw material in long rods of steel, is carried from this wing to the shearing machine, which cuts the metal into the required lengths for the files. This machine runs by power, and it is surprising how easily it will cut in two the heaviest pieces of steel. The trip hammer is the next process after the shearing. There are five hammers in all, ranging from a striking capacity of 1,000 pounds each blow down to the smallest machine of the kind in Canada, ten pounds. These five hammers strike about 1,500 blows to the minute, and are taken care of by three men. The use of the hammer is to forge the tangs and points of the files into shape.
Then comes the annealing furnace. The raw material is too hard to be fashioned into files by the cutting machines, so an annealing has to be undergone. It consists of heating the files red hot in an annealing furnace, which takes three days to cool off. The gradual cooling has the effect of softening the steel to allow it being cut and ground. From this furnace the material is taken to the grinding room, where three large grindstones are in motion. It was in this room that Norton was killed about six weeks ago from the breaking of a large grindstone. The hammer having forged the steel into the shape of a file, about 100 of them are put into a case, which is so constructed as to be automatically brought against the grindstone, and as it turns the stone grinds the rough steel and polishes it off smoothly. From the grinder the pieces of steel are submitted to a further process of polishing by emery wheels, etc., called stripping.
Then comes the most interesting feature of the whole manufacture, the cutting. The cutting is the process by which the rough sides and edges are made, and it is very interesting to watch these machines at work. They are 21 in number, and eleven men are engaged at work upon them. The files are placed upon a movable bed, which, when the machine is started, is drawn forward at the rate of about three feet to the minute, the teeth being cut by a blow from a chisel in the end of the ram. The chisels are made as sharp as razors, and are changed every two or three files that are cut. The cutting machines strike 2,500 cuts to the minute.
After the files are cut they are carried to the tempering furnace, where they are heated red-hot in boiling lead, and then dipped in strong salt brine of 30 degrees density. A thorough cleaning with oil of vitriol and sand is next applied, after which the files are placed in lime water to keep them from rusting. They are then tested, oiled, and packed in boxes ready for shipment.

Mr. Outram Speaks
"How's biz, Mr. Outram?"
"Fine. We are rushing things, and are just getting in working order. We have the same capacity now that we had in Montreal, and have orders in our books to keep us going for some time."
"How many men do you employ?"
"Our last fortnight's pay sheet shows our staff to be 38, with wages $550. We brought 19 men from Montreal, 12 of whom are heads of families, but most of them have not moved their families yet from Montreal. We have good prospects of an increasing trade, and our present staff will not be enough to do our business. We expect in six months to have doubled our output, which will require one-half more men than we have now."
"Have you plenty of power?"
"Lots of it. Our capacity is 100 horsepower, and our wheels are in perfect order. Our foreman, Mr. Samuel Alcott, is an experienced man, having been with us for 11 years, and is thoroughly posted on water power. I am liking Port Hope splendidly, and think we have a big future in store for our business."

from the Daily Colonist  Victoria, BC
Wednesday October 25, 1893
Injured by Machinery
PORT HOPE , Oct 24 - A Outram, proprietor of the Globe file works, was caught in the machinery at his factory and badly hurt yesterday.

from the Weekly Guide Friday July 20, 1906
Mr George Outram, Who Had Been 78 Years in the Order Died Monday
from the Montreal Witness Monday July 16, 1906
The oldest Oddfellow on the continent, and possibly the oldest in the world, passed away this morning, in the person of Mr George Outram of No 484 Magdalen street, Montreal. Mr Outram was in his ninety-third year, and owing to the infirmities of age, had been confined to his residence for some time. Within the last week or two he had become much weaker, and his death was not unexpected.
Mr Outram was born at Dronfield, Derbyshire, on May 3rd, 1814. On the twenty-fourth of the present month it will be exactly 78 years since he was made a member of the Manchester Unity, Lodge No 312, IOOF, Sheffield district. He filled all the minor offices in his lodge, was made Noble Grand six times and Grand Master seven times. He subsequently joined Mechanics Lodge, Attercliffe, No 1107, IOOF, MU, of which but four members remained at the time, but which had a membership of over forty when he left. In 1836 he was presented with a silver medal in recognition of his services to the lodge.
Coming to Canada in 1863, Mr Outram bought a farm of two hundred acres near Kincardine, Ont. Agriculture claimed him but a short time however, for he soon sold out and went to the United States, where he started a file factory. He remained in this business until 1869. In the following year he returned to Canada and established himself in business in Montreal as a file cutter. At this time all file cutting was done by hand.
His files were at that time among the best on the market; it was a common saying that they would cut through anything. In 1878 he secured the gold medal and diploma at the Paris exhibition in competition with the world, the United States taking second place and England third. On his return to Canada he became connected with Loyal Victoria Lodge, No 5896, IOOF, MU, of which he was a member at the time of his death. In 1894 he was appointed a JP for the district of Montreal.
Mr Outram was a man of great vitality, and was hale and hearty until after he passed his ninetieth year.
The word 'tramway' takes its name from Mr Outram's great uncle, who owned large iron works at Butterley, and was the first to use carriages running on grooved rails to convey coal from the mines seven miles distant from his works. It was locally known as the Outram Way, the name being afterwards contracted to tramway. [The word 'tramway' pre-dates this appealing story.]
Mr Outram's wife passed away many years ago. He leaves a daughter, who kept house for him, and a son, who went from Montreal to establish a file business in Port Hope, and now lives, retired, in that place.

from 1907 Port Hope Businesses
Nicholson File Company
The above concern is one of the foremost institutions of its kind in Canada. The office and factory is located on Cavan street. This enterprise was originally established here some 20 years ago and has been carried on under its present title for six years. This company are manufacturers of files and rasps in different shapes and sizes. The goods are sold almost exclusively wholesale. The motive power of the factory is both steam and water. This season's output has been larger than any in the history of the firm. 125 to 150 hands are employed. The premises occupied are embraced in a number of modern buildings giving ample room accommodations for supplying the most extensive demand. Nowhere in Canada can be found such a thoroughly reliable and comprehensive stock of goods in this line. It is immense in size and variety, conveniently arranged in departments, and reflects the highest credit upon the taste and judgment of the proprietors. Without attempting to describe the same, it can be stated that it covers everything the trade needs or uses, and merchants can here find a stock well calculated to meet all their requirements. A number of salesmen represent the house on the road and shipments are regularly made all over Canada. An export business is also done. The members of the firm are Samuel M Nicholson, President; E M Thurber, Resident Manager; Jas E Nicholson, Superintendent. They are practical business men, worthy of every trust and confidence.

from Inventory of Major Canadian Tool and Die Manufacturers from 1820 to 1914
name: G Outram & Sons (Dominion File Works)
place: Montreal
years: 1869-1888
production field: files
workers: 25 (1882) 30 (1885) 25 (1886) 25 (1888) 30 (1888)
other: owner originating from Sheffield, England; driving force: hydraulic, 15 hp (1888); company moved to Port Hope, Ont. in 1888

name: F Outram (Globe File Manufacturing Co.)
place: Port Hope
years: 1888-1909 [should be 1901]
production field: files and rasps
workers: 52 (1895)
other: capital $60,000 (1895); came under ownership of the American company, Nicholson File Co, c1909 [1901]
click a picture to enlarge, click to shrink

click a picture to enlarge

You can use the form below to comment on this article. A name is required, an email address is optional. Email addresses will not be revealed.