Exterior of the Canada Iron Foundry, 1929. Courtesy of Elgin County Archives.
The origins of Canron, as it later came to be known, go back to the establishment of the Canada Southern Railway (CSR) in the early 1870s when Russell Car Wheel was established at the north-west corner of the parcel of land owned by the CSR. In 1884 it was taken over by the St. Thomas Car Wheel Co. and in that year was producing 240 railway car wheels a day.
Faced with ﬁnancial difﬁculties in 1903, ownership was assumed by the Canadian Iron and Foundry Co., which built a new factory the following year. Until its closing, it was the oldest industry in St. Thomas still making the same product that it started with over 100 years prior.
Canadian Iron & Foundry Co. was the main supplier of car wheels, brake shoes and other products to the St. Thomas rail industry, and contributed to its great success from the 19th century up to the period following the Second World War. Canron hired recent European immigrants with little formal education but with a strong back and work ethic.
By 1973 Canron, was the only manufacturer of railway brake shoes in Canada. Canron closed in the 1980s and the factory was demolished.