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MHS Centennial Business: Westeel

In 1905, William J. McMartin was President and Manager of the Winnipeg Ceiling and Roofing Company, with yards located at the foot of Scott Street in Fort Rouge, where he also lived. In their advertisement in the Henderson Directory, they mentioned the many metal manufactured goods they produced, such as corrugated iron and metal ceilings, siding, cornices, skylights and fireproof windows, as well as Manitoba siding. In 1920, William McMartin died and his son Hector C. McMartin, employed in the business from its inception, became Vice President and General Manager. He changed the business name to Western Steel Products Ltd., and added oil barrels and steel-sided grain bins to the product line. Since 1930, it has been operating under the trade name Westeel, though it has undergone many changes in ownership and is now a division of VicWest Corporation of Oakville, Ontario.

Their 130,000 square-foot manufacturing plant in St. Boniface and facilities in Regina, Saskatoon and Olds, Alberta produce steel products for storage of bulk commodities such as grain, fertilizer, petroleum products, salt and sand. The steel-sided grain bins introduced in the 1920s have now become their most recognizable product at home and abroad. Aggressively marketed outside Canada since the 1990s, they also supply about 70% of the domestic market. Individual farmers in Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand have purchased them, but they can also be found in foreign flour mills, grain processors, and port facilities.

An MHS Centennial Business Award was presented to Mark Humphrey, General Manager of Westeel, by Judith Hudson Beattie, Ken Zealand, and David Deane on 14 January 2006.

WMN: In 1905 construction was booming in the Canadian West. It was the beginning of an epoch in Canada's history which saw the virgin prairies being turned into farms and become "the granary of the world." In this half century population increased and multiplied and great cities grew up in pace with this development. Far sighted business men were anticipating a period of expansion in the West. One of them opened a small plant on the banks of the Red River to fabricate sheet metal products. This the beginning of what is now the Canada-wide organization known as Westeel Products Limited. Then it was named the Winnipeg Ceiling and Roofing Company. Its success was immediate. It did not remain a small plant for long. The boom was on. Outgrowing its original premises, the plant was moved and enlarged; new machines were installed, and an ever increasing variety of articles produced to fill the requirements of customers in practically every field of endeavor. Beginning in 1919 with the opening of a branch plant in Regina, a period of rapid expansion opened up for the Company, culminating with the founding of its most westerly branch in Vancouver in 1925. The name of the firm was changed to Western Steel Products Limited in 1920, and in that year two additional branch plants were established in Alberta at Calgary and Edmonton. Another Saskatchewan branch was opened in Saskatoon in 1922. The firm name was again changed, in 1945, to Westeel Products Limited, an all-Canadian Canada Wide organization operating from coast to coast. Today, the products of Westeel in some way touch the lives of almost every man, woman and child in Canada. Building products made from sheet metal are used in homes, schools, hospitals, churches, offices, factories, warehouses, barns, implement sheds, rinks and granaries. Other products include ventilators, eavestroughs, lockers, shelving, partitions, culverts, road signs, well curbing, stock troughs, truck and storage tanks, etc. Westeel now enters its second half century with confidence that the success achieved since 1905 will be continued and deserved because of the high quality of service which has become a tradition with this enterprise.

Sources:

Western Municipal News, February 1955, page 53.

Page revised: 15 May 2011

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