General History
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Ew! On Eastern Ave.

A.R. Clark Tannery Bad odor pix at A.R. Clark Tannery 1970 Toronto Telegram York University

A. R. Clarke Tannery, Bad odor pix at A.R. Clarke Tannery, 1970, Toronto Telegram fonds, York University

2 Clarke Tannery Peterborough

Clarke Tannery Peterborough

Landlord:
That smell’s the tannery; God help you in summer. If there’s one good thing, the rats can’t climb this high, but the water can – that roof hasn’t got long.

Giacomo Casanova:
You’re not exactly selling it.

From the movie Casanova, 2005

Where did it all begin? In 1852 John Clarke opened a small tannery on the Otonabee River in Ashburnham, now part of Peterborough.

In 1882 his three sons, Alfred Russell, Frederick G., and Charles F., moved the tannery to Toronto and Alfred R. Clarke took over sole ownership. The tannery was very successful, but, besides the notoriously bad stench associated with tanneries, it had other problems, including labour unrest.

In 1893 the Working Women’s Protective Association went out on strike by at the A.R. Clarke & Co. glove factory in a fight for factory reform law and votes for women. The strike ran for about three months. Eugene Forsey, Eugene. Trade Unions in Canada, 1812-1902.  (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982) 329- 300.

[Building Permits] A. R. Clarke, a three-story factory in Eastern avenue, to cost $25,000. Globe, Sept. 20, 1900 [at Beachell in Corktown]

In 1902 Alfred R. Clarke moved his tannery from beside the Don River to 633 Eastern Avenue.

A story circulated that, while Clarke was supervising raising the flag (to celebrate the end of construction) from his new building’s roof, all Toronto’s church bells rang and factory whistles shrieked. Though Clarke knew he was a prominent figure in Toronto’s business world, he was, none the less, gratified with the City’s response to his new tannery’s opening.  When he got back to his office he found that the celebrations were for the end of the Boer War, not to welcome the new tannery.

http://www.firstportcredit.com/pages/410/410_51_history.html

3 Toronto Star, June 23, 1905 Cropped

Toronto Star, June 23, 1905 Cropped

ADDITIONS AND MORE ADDITIONS

[Building Permit] A. R. Clarke & Co. – One-storey brick addition to leather works, near Caroline street on Eastern avenue, $1,000. Toronto Star July 18, 1904

…a factory for A.R. Clarke & Co., Ltd., on Eastern avenue, to cost $2,000. Globe, Sept. 20, 1905

5 Toronto Star, June 23, 1905

6 Toronto Star, Sept. 26, 1906

Toronto Star, Sept. 26, 1906

Frederick G., and Charles E. Clarke owned and operated Clarke and Clarke, tannery, while Alfred R. ran A. R. Clarke Co. The other Clarke Brothers specialized in leather pickled in brine while A. R. Clarke specialized in patent leather and fine leather products such as gloves. For a while Frederick and Charles considered building a new tannery on Carlaw Avenue.

Dr. Brown, the first speaker, said that the tannery would be right next door to his fine new residence.

“I have invested $15,000 there, the savings of a lifetime,” he said. “No one can tell me that there will be no odor from hides in pickle.”

“I am afraid it may interfere with my church, which is within 200 yards, said Rev. Mr. Frizzell of Leslieville Presbyterian church. This is a very thickly-populated residential district.”

Toronto Star, Sept. 26, 1906

7 Toronto Star, Oct. 2, 1906

8 Globe, Oct. 9, 1906

Globe, Oct. 9, 1906

“I’m glad we’re going,” said one woman.

“Why – because of the odor of the tannery?” asked The Star.

“Not that particularly. You see, there are so many odors around here that it is almost impossible to make distinguish any particular one.”

Toronto Star, Oct. 2, 1906

9 Toronto Star, Oct. 9, 1906

Toronto Star, Oct. 9, 1906

4 Globe, May 16, 1907

Globe, May 16, 1907

11 History of the Twelfth Regiment, York Rangers, 1913

History of the Twelfth Regiment, York Rangers, 1913

GLOVE MAKERS WANTED FOR light work; inseam and trimmer machines. A. R. Clarke & Co., Limited, 633-661 Eastern avenue.

Globe, June 3, 1913

12 Postcard Atlantic Record

12 Globe, March 22, 1915

Globe, March 22, 1915

12 Globe, May 7, 1915

Globe, May 7, 1915

This advertisement is from the day before a German U-boat torpedoed R.M.S. Lusitania.

Lusitania12 Postcard

10 Globe, May 5, 1908

12 Sinking ship13 The Aftermath

11g Globe, June 21, 1915

Globe, June 21, 1915

Elbert Hubbard the founder of Roycroft, died on the Lusitania as well as many other celebrities and many wealthy men, women and children. Hundreds of second and third class passengers drowned as well.  Alfred R. Clarke survived the sinking only to die of pneumonia afterwards. The vortex from the sunken liner sucked Clarke far under the surface. The incredible water pressure crushed his chest, puncturing his lungs.

 

 

 

 

11j Toronto Star, June 21, 1915

Toronto Star, June 21, 1915

Toronto Star, June 21, 1915

Toronto Star, June 21, 1915

1

Toronto Star, June 21, 1915

2

Toronto Star, June 21, 1915

12

Globe, July 5, 1915

14 Globe, July 8, 1915

Globe, July 8, 1915

14a Globe, July 8, 1915b

Globe, July 8, 1915

14b Globe, July 8, 1915c

Globe, July 8, 1915

15 Enlist

16 Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1983-28-132317 But What Tremendous Fleet Could Have Brought over such An Army The Lusitania. July 6, 1918, Library and Archives Canada

But! What Tremendous Fleet Could Ever Have Brought Over Such an Army? – The Lusitania. July 6, 1918, Library and Archives Canada

19190911GL Clarke tannery heir scandal Booth woman

Scandal Tannery Heir sued, Globe September 11, 1919

A. R. Clarke’s son Griffith B. ran the tannery until he died in an accident in 1923. Then Clarke’s widow ran the business herself.

17 Toronto Star, May 20, 1919

Toronto Star, May 20, 1919

18 Toronto Star, June 7, 1919

Toronto Star, June 7, 1919

19 The municipality of Toronto, p 260

Biography of Frederick G. Clarke, The Municipality of Toronto, 260

 

tannery-ashbridges-bay-1926-toronto-public-library

Tannery, Ashbridge’s Bay, 1926. Toronto Public Library.

19260510GL A R Clarke ad - Copy

Globe, May 10, 1926

Heavy Water Damage at Clarke Company Fire

Heavy damage by water was done last night to the stock of the A.R. Clarke Company, manufacturers of leather goods, 633 Eastern Avenue, when water sprinklers flooded four floors of the building. A small fire started about 10.30 on the fourth floor, near a clothing room. Sprinklers were set in operation, and before fireman could shut off the water, all floors were flooded.

The superintendent of the firm stated he could not estimate the loss last night, but though it would be several thousand dollars. The cause of the fire is not known.

Globe, Nov. 6, 1926

On the death of Mrs. A. R. Clarke,in 1931,  her son-in-law, W. H. Lytle became company president of the tannery until he died in 1961. The family remained involved in the business for years.

19b Globe, Dec. 18, 1931

Globe, Dec. 18, 1931

20 Globe and Mail, Oct. 6, 1942

Globe and Mail, Oct. 6, 1942

20a Globe and Mail, Sept. 16, 1947

Globe and Mail, Sept. 16, 1947

20b Globe and Mail, Nov. 2, 1949

Globe and Mail, Nov. 2, 1949

In the 1960s A. R. Clarke & Co. Limited expanded by buying The Breithaupt Leather Co. Limited of Kitchener with tanneries in Hastings and Campbellford. See the May 1967 “Centennial Issue” of Industrial Canada held in the Western Libraries at the University of Western Ontario.  http://www.lib.uwo.ca/programs/companyinformationcanada/ccc-ARClarke.htm

20c Globe and Mail, Aug. 24, 1962

Globe and Mail, Aug. 24, 1962

Globe and Mail, Aug. 15, 1962 photo

Globe and Mail, Aug. 15, 1962 photo

picket A. R. CLARKE tannery plant 1963 TPL TStar lic

Picket outside A. R. CLARKE tannery, 1963 Toronto Star photograph used under a Toronto Star license and accessed at the Toronto Public Library.

20c Globe and Mail, Feb. 10, 1964

Globe and Mail, Feb. 10, 1964

21 Clarke Tannery (lower left) February, 1967 Archives of Ontario

21 Clarke Tannery (lower left) February, 1967 Archives of Ontario

22 Clarke Tannery (Middle) February, 1967 Archives of Ontario

22 Clarke Tannery (Middle) February, 1967 Archives of Ontario

23 Clarke Tannery (center) February, 1967 Archives of Ontario. Canada Metals far left

23 Clarke Tannery (center) February, 1967 Archives of Ontario. Canada Metals far left

On March 27, 2001, fire destroyed the A.R. Clarke Limited building as it was being renovated to convert it into a film sound stage. The tannery on Eastern Avenue was in receivership at the time.

Workers dismantling the pipes inside the building were welding with acetylene torches while the sprinkler system was shut off. More than 100 firefighters and more than 30 fire trucks fought the fire. Police evacuated nearby businesses and homes were evacuated as flames shot into the sky.

Spilled degreasing chemicals over the years of operation contaminated the tannery land and the groundwater.

25 Toronto Star, June 28, 2001

Toronto Star, March 28, 2001

26 Toronto Star, June 28, 2001 text

23 Toronto Star, March 29, 2001 photo

Toronto Star, June 29, 2001

24 Toronto Star, March 29, 2001 text

Toronto Star, June 29, 2001

CASANOVA

Landlord: That smell’s the tannery; God help you in summer. If there’s one good thing, the rats can’t climb this high, but the water can — that roof hasn’t got long. Giacomo Casanova: You’re not exactly selling it. From www.quotes.net

Ayrshire CF 1873

 

This entry was posted in: General History

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Welcome to the Leslieville Historical Society's website. Please feel free to join us, to ask questions, to attend walking tours and other events, and to celebrate Leslieville's past while creating our future. Guy Anderson, President, Leslieville Historical Society and Joanne Doucette, local historian and webmaster.

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