From Cows to
G.M. Celebrates 80 years in Walkerville
Motors has been part of the Walkerville landscape since 1919. But
before this industrial landmark's time, things were decidedly more
bucolic. Shorthorns, Aberdeen Angus Polls, Jerseys, Percheron and
horses, Shropshire sheep and Berkshire pigs roamed a 1,000 acre stock
farm owned by Hiram Walker's & Sons.
The Essex Stock Farm, c. 1880's
stockyard on what is now Tecumseh and Walker Road where cows were
fattened and shipped to England in time for Christmas feast-ing,
the animals at his Essex Stock Farm were bred to stock his extensive
agricultural operations in Essex County.
An article in
Canadian Live-Stock Journal from 1885 humorously describes the
buildings located on his stock farm: "These are plain and unpretentious,
the aim being rather to produce good animals than to furnish fine
buildings with only inferior specimens within, as is so often done
in the erection of dwellings for human habitation."Walker was also
interested in raising children's saddle ponies and in 1883, an Ex-moor
pony was imported from England.
According to the
Live-Stock Journal: "He is now being crossed with Canadian
ponies, which it is confidently expected will produce a valuable
pony paheton driver, and also a fine specimen of children's saddle
Since Hiram Walker
encouraged business and industry to set up in Walkerville, it was
only a matter of time before his rural properties were overtaken
by the wheels of progress.
Limited, a subsidiary of General Motors Corporation was established
on Walker Road eighty years ago. It produced auto engines and axles
but ceased operations in 1923.
In January 1928,
the Walker Road Plant was reopened as a branch plant of General
Motors of Canada, Ltd. for the assembly of truck chassis and in
1929, operations were extended to manufacture truck and bus bodies.
short period during 1929 and 1930, Chevrolet and Pontiac automobiles
were also assembled in the Walker Road Plant.
In December of
1928, the Walker Road plant began building Chevrolet engines
and later Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick engines and also G.M. truck
engines. Border Cities Industries Ltd., a subsidiary of General
Motors of Canada was built in 1940 on adjacent property bordered
by Kildare Road to the GM engine plant.
During World War
II, 25,000 Browning Machine Guns, 10,000 Palstin automatic rifles
and several thousand naval gun mounts were produced. In 1945, this
property was sold to the Sandwich, Windsor & Amherstburg Railway
June of 1964, the engine plant was converted to the manufacturing
of Synchro-mesh and 2-Speed Automatic Transmissions. The Walker
Road plant's record of quality control and efficiency resulted in
GM Corporation's decision to expand and convert the plant for production
of THM 3-speed automatic, transaxle transmissions in 1978.
bought back the SW&A site and completed the expansion in 1981.
Unfortunately, theArt Deco GM administration building on Walker
Rd. was demolished and was re-placed by a shipping area. The familiar
GM water tower was also dismantled.