1868 – 1873
St. Catherines, Ontario
This small firm only existed for about five years (150 years ago), and yet its explosive boom and bust started one of the largest and most influential axe factories in Canadian History.
The firm of Tuttle, Date & Rodden was formed in 1968, establishing an edge and agricultural tool factory named the Welland Vale Works in St. Catherines, Ontario with a warehouse in Toronto at 18 & 20 Colborne St.
E.C. Tuttle and H.H. Date were experienced tool makers who likely started the firm together before quickly being joined by hardware merchant, manufacturer, and inventor W.H. Rodden. This is supported by some known tool markings that simply state “Tuttle, Date & Co.”.
Tuttle originated from Connecticut, but went back and forth starting or joining various firms between the US and Canada over the years. Date, and Rodden were born in Canada with a range of experience prior to starting this firm. (2,6,7)
The factory had only started rolling out tools in 1869, but by the fall of 1870, the firm had already won 6 first-place awards at the provincial exhibition in Toronto for their axes, forks, hoes, and edge tools.
The firm quickly expanded hiring up to 120 men to produce axes, scythes, pitchforks, hoes, picks, chisels, rakes, draw knives, and machine knives. However, they over-extended and by March of 1873 were forced to declare bankruptcy.
It was at this time that William Chaplin and Edward C. Jones purchased the factory from the liquidator, and Tuttle, Date & Rodden’s Welland Vale Works became the famous Welland Vale Manufacturing Company.
The Legacy of Welland Vale
Over the next 90 years, the factory would be one of Canada’s largest suppliers of axes. It made and sold axes for retail and industrial use, hardware wholesalers, and export around the world before finally shutting down in 1965.
The factory changed hands and names a couple of times over the years, and there will be much more content around these later companies and axe brands on this site:
- 1869 – 1873 | Welland Vale Works
(Tuttle, Date & Rodden)
- 1874 – 1930 | Welland Vale Manufacturing Co.
(W. Chaplin. & E.C. Jones)
- 1930 – 1950 | Welland Vale Manufacturing Co. LTD
(Purchased by The American Fork & Hoe Co.)
- 1950 – 1965 | True Temper Canada
For in-depth bios of the founders, check out the excellent book “Axe Making in Ontario” by Gary E. French.
Help the site grow!
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- Lovell’s Canadian Dominion Directory for 1871 (University of Alberta)
- Tuttle, Date, and Rodden circulars, 1869-1870 (Brock University)
- Welland Vale Manufacturing Industries (Guidetags)
- “Axe Makers of North America” by Allan Klenman (second edition – editor: Larry McPhail), 1990
- Yesteryearstools.com – Welland Vale Co.
- “Axe Making in Ontario, in the Settlement Period” by Gary E. French
- “Canadian Axe Manufactures and Purveyors” by Thomas C. Lamond