Macleod’s Artisan & Expert Axes

1946 – 1960s*
MacLeod’s Hardware (Western Canada)
Made in USA

MacLeod’s Hardware stores became a prominent staple in Western Canada during the 1930’s and 40’s. Business grew rapidly, and in 1945 the company was bought out by the US-based Gambles-Skogmo, who continued to grow and expand Macleod’s in Canada.

Part of Gambles plan for growth was to introduce some of their private label brands from the US, but put them under the Macleod’s banner in Canada. It is likely that the Macleod’s axes were likely made by the same US manufacturer making axes for Gambles as well.

MacLeod’s Artisan Axes

Macleod’s Artisan was the premium house brand of tools for the Macleod’s Hardware chain in Western Canada. It was introduced in the late 1940s after the purchase of the business by Gambles-Skogmo. Macleod’s Artisan mirrored the Gambles Artisan brand sold in the US Gambles Hardware stores.

Macleod’s describes their Artisan brand as:Artisan – the highest quality obtainables, constructed of the best materials and designed to give the best services – Artisan quality means the best.

They originally used this brand for tools like axes, shovels, and pitchforks, but by the 60s they had expanded into other hand tools and power tools. 

The exact date range of Artisan axes is not known, but based on the rest of the industry it’s safe to assume they would have likely stopped stamping quickly.

Macleod’s Expert Axe

Like Artisan, Macleod’s Expert brand mirrored Gambles Expert brand in the USA. Being used on hand tools, garden tools, and axes.

Macleod’s Expert brand was an affordable line of entry level hand tools described as: “Quality that gives satisfactory service...”

Expert axes turn up less frequently than Artisan these days. Although I neither are considered rare.

This example somehow made its way to New Zealand.

About Macleod’s Hardware

Macleod’s Limited started in 1917 selling mail-order farm equipment out of Winnipeg, Manitoba. And in 1928 expanded, opening a warehouse in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Not long after they added retail areas to both warehouses, and then the first full retail store was opened in 1930. By 1945 the company had 27 retail locations across the prairies.

In 1945 the company was bought by the Minnesota-based company of Gamble-Skogmo. It kept growing – adding both corporate and franchised locations, and by 1964 there were 220 locations from BC to Ontario.

The company changed hands a few more times, most recently becoming Ace Hardware Canada – which has had its HQ moved to Ontario by the owners (Lowes).

Although stores with the Macleod name still exist. 

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  1. Archives of Manitoba – Keystone Archives
  2. University of Minnesota – History of the Gamble-Skogmo Chair