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                                          ST JOHNS GLASS COMPANY and  EXCELSIOR GLASS COMPANY
                                                1875 - 1877                 and          1879-1883


After the closing of the Canada Glass Works in St Johns , Canada East in about 1864-65 , the Canada Glass Company Ltd in Hudson Quebec started to produce glass until it closed . The glass factory under Lamplough & Campbell continued until about 1876 . However, the need for bottles and insulators was still an incentive for a Canadian glass works in Quebec.  
This article  covers the St Johns Glass Company in St Johns ( now called St Jean sur le Richelieu ) and presents  how at the same location the Excelsior Glass Company was started and then later moved to Montreal.

An important factor in the demise of the St Johns Glass Company was a June 18 1876 fire which destroyed the entire business section of St Johns. Although the glass works was not burnt , the entire Richelieu street and part of Champlain street from south to north were devastated. In order to understand the full extent of the damage  and it's effect on St Johns a separate historical article can be read on our site.

A thank you to a fellow researcher who sent us the Montreal Gazette newspaper clips.

NOTE - There will be a write up at the bottom of this post on the goblets thought to have been made by Excelsior Glass Co. Fruit jars from these works are found in the fruit jar section under Excelsior Improved , and The Imperial ( with E G Co logo ). Insulators can be found in the Insulator section.


In the following article L # stands for Land record and N # stands for Notary Record.


                             ST JOHNS GLASS COMPANY 1875 - 1877

The plans for the St Johns Glass Company are underway as of September 8 1875.  The economic depression of 1873 had left it's mark and this glass works products were to be  useful needed items . They plan to be in production by December 1875. The " old glass factory " mentioned is the Canada Glass Works (see Historical Articles)

September 21 1875 - Montreal Daily Witness

st johns glass company

.                                                         Quebec Official Gazette

September 14 1875                                                                      December 17 1875 - St Johns Glass Company

st johns glass company
st johns glass company


The following are the listings or ad's for those involved in forming the St Johns Glass Company.
 Bertrand, Borland, and Coote are listings from the 1876 St Johns Directory. Nichols is from the 1876 Montreal Directory. Dewar is an earlier listing from the 1871 Canada Directory and MacPherson, Gillespie and Cousins are ads from  April 14 1876 in the St Johns newspaper- News and Frontier Advocate.

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Unfortunately , one of the investors Andrew Dewar passed away on January 22 1876. His wife continued his Confectionery business.

According to L # 9710  a meeting on May 18 1876 - James MacPherson is at this time the President and William Coote is secretary.
It also mentions the  official  sale of the land owned by Alexis Bertrand  to the St Johns Glass Company for $500 in shares of said company. The piece of land is described as lots  # 333 ( 72 feet in width by 44 feet depth) and part of lots # 334 on east side of Queen road and # 332 on west side of Albert St. The all is bounded by west  Queen , east by Albert St,  south by Partion st ( St George) and on the north-east side by the land of the Montreal & Champlain railway. It had no buildings on it when A Bertrand owned it. 

This is from an 1877  St Johns Map . The yellow star marks the St Johns Glass Company property and the red and green star is where the Canada Glass Works was situated.

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Although no documents have been found Henry Gillespie a prominent St Johns builder , contractor and carpenter  probably built the Glass factory . ( He was the builder of the Canada Glass Works in 1844). The land on which the glass factory was built was originally owned by Alexis Bertrand (L # 9710) . John Nichols , a Stock broker in Montreal was the son-in law of William Coote. T A Cousins sold glass merchandise , groceries  etc in St Johns and Alexis Bertrand and James MacPherson were St Johns Merchants.

 The only member having any knowledge about glass making is Charles Wesley Foster. He was a glass blower, and also the brother of Mary Ann (Foster) Gillespie who was married to Henry's son John Gillespie. ( see more on Foster's in article on Canada Glass Works).
 Charles Foster  was Superintendent of the St Johns Glass Works having left Boston to do so. On his patent for a glass melting furnace dated March 9 1876, he is living in St Johns.

charles wesley foster
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      1876 St Johns Directory (corrected to November 1 1876)

Charles Wesley ( not Wallace - it is a Directory mistake ) Foster is manager of the St Johns Glass Company and Mims W Royal is the Mecanical Engineer. In this directory , W & D Yuile , of  Montreal are listed as the agents. In the Montreal Directory for the same year, the "manufacturer's Agents" refers to the St Johns Glass Company. (on left )

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                                             February 22 1876 - Montreal Daily Witness

                          The glass works gets a mention in this article about St Johns

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                                           June 15 1876  -News and Frontier Advocate, St Johns

The St Johns Glass Company is producing glass by this date but has had to stop because delivery of sand has been delayed.

st johns glass company

       The wait for sand may have been delayed even longer as a few days later on June 18 1876 -

A disastrous fire destroys the business section of St Johns. From north to south on Richelieu and  part of the east side of Champlain street were burnt.  The fire started about 8 am in a pile of boards at M. Bousquet's saw mill at the south end of Richelieu. A strong southerly wind carried the flames and by 11 45 pm only the smoldering ruins were left .The Customs house, Post Office, Telegraph office , two towing barges , docks , half the bridge over the Richelieu river to Iberville and many business and homes gone.  Some of the investors in the St Johns Glass Company,- John MacPherson , Mrs Dewars, John W. Borland , Thomas Andrew Cousins  and Henry Gillespie -  lost their personal places of business.     (Courrier de St Hyacinthe June 20 1876)

The following plan is from the June 20 1876 Montreal Daily Witness. As it states , the town extends several streets further west .

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Although the glass factory was not in the area which burned down, this time period was difficult as delivery  by the docks and bridge to and from St Johns via the Chambly canal to Montreal were destroyed. Another hardship for the glass factory was that the J. C. Ayer's patent medicine branch factory did burn down. The St Johns Glass Company supplied their bottles.
Fortunately , the News and Frontier Advocate on July 28 1876 announced the reopening of the Ayers Factory.

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                September 8 1876 -News and Frontier Advocate, St Johns

This article on the J. C. Ayer's company mentions their new factory is now close to the glass factory and 6000 dozen bottles will be needed for this seasons products.

j c ayer & company
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              ADs Ayers - from June 15, September 8 and September 22 1876 - News and Frontier Advocate

ayer's sarsaprilla
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ayer's hair vigor
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 ayer's cherry pectoral
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 The Ayer's factory was now on property  owned by Henry Arthur Hammond and Thomas Moystn.They had bought the piece of land April 12th 1876 .Shortly after on June 18 the fire of St Johns occurs. Although Hammond and Moystn's original intention was to start a pottery upon this property,  instead they leased it to the Ayer's company. They bought a piece of land in Iberville on November 12 of 1876  and started the Glasgow Poterie d'Iberville with other investers.
 (L #  9086, 9189, 23575 and 23576 )

The following map is from the 1880 Town of St Johns Atlas - it shows the St Johns Glass Company  the property - is where it is marked " Glass Factory ".  The Ayers's leased property are the two irregular lots above it to the left of the railway. Just below is where the old Canada Glass works property was situated.

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For more information on the company J C Ayer & Co , the website gives pictures of the type of bottles they used . 

 Investors Henry Gillespie's wife passes away on August 10 1876 and John Nichols' wife passes away in October 1876.

The St Johns Glass Company money problems have begun by the fall of 1876 .  They are recorded in the following documents .  Money being loaned to the said company by James MacPherson also President of said Company are not being repaid.

N # 3992 - November 6 1876
This is an Exchange Bank of Canada protest notice for a Bill of Exchange for $ 521.45 past due on October 3 1876. The St Johns Glass Company was to pay James MacPherson ( also President of said Company)- Non- Payment.


N # 2314 - January 26 1877
 La Banque de St Jean -Protest of non-payment by St Johns Glass Company money owed to James MacPherson for the amount of $500.23. Promissory note was made on October 23 1876.



The June 1876 fire had destroyed  the investor T A Cousins place of business and on February 6 1877 ,  Thomas Andrew Cousins of the firm TA & CR Cousins is filing for bankruptcy.

N # 2335 - February 12 1877
La Banque de St Jean - Protest of non-payment by St Johns Glass Company to James Macpherson for the amount of  $1000. Promissory note was made  on November 8 1876.

February 15 and 19 1877 -  two more promissory notes are due ( see below L # 9841- L # 9888) and will not be paid.

These two following documents are to clarify that the property is owned by the St Johns Glass Company so the new President Alexis Bertrand  will be able to mortgage it for the glass company.

L # 9710 -  February 22 1877
This document is based  on a meeting of the St Johns Glass Company on May 18 1876.  Alexis Bertrand is selling land to the St Johns Glass Company for $500 in shares of said company. The piece of land is described as lots  # 333 ( 72 feet in width by 44 feet depth) and part of lots # 334 on east side of Queen road and # 332 on west side of Albert St. The all is bounded by west  Queen , east by Albert St,  south by Partion st ( St George) and on the north-east side by the land of the Montreal & Champlain railway. 

And a few weeks later, the following land record. The company needed money to pay bills past due

L # 9711 - March 3 1877
This document follows a meeting of the St Johns Glass Company on February 24 1877. Now President of the Board of Directors, Alexis Bertrand is saying  the said company is now indebted to Jean Baptiste Bissonette (Esquire Officer of her Majesty's Customs of St Johns) for the amount of $5000. to be paid by the St Johns Glass Company in three months from this date (June 3 1877) at the rate of interest of ten percent annum. For security of payment the St Johns Glass Company is mortgaging their property. ( as described above in # 9710) with a Glass Factory and all its appliances, storehouses and buildings , appurtenances belonging to it . They will insure the buildings for full amount of mortgage.

April 3 1877 - Quebec Official Gazette
Notice appears about James MacPherson , Merchant (and original President of St Johns Glass Company ) is insolvent and his personal property lots in St Johns will be put up by the Sheriff for public auction on June 4 1877.  ( His personal business burnt in the June 1876 fire )

N # 2456 - April 14 1877
Another La Banque de St Jean  - Protest for non -payment  by the St Johns Glass Company to Alexis Bertrand (President ) for the amount of $750. Promissory note was made on March 27 1877 almost a month after mortgaging the Glass property.

L # 9841 - April 18 1877
Arcade Decelles , ( Mayor of St Johns from 1877-1879) and also a St Johns General merchant (Langelier and Decelles) is demanding payment  for money owed to him for merchandise by the St Johns Glass Company. A promissory note dated February 19 1877 did not have the funds to cover it. The amount is for 313 piastus and 50 centins plus interest. He also wants to be paid for having to take action against the St Johns Glass Company. 

                                           St Johns Directory 1876 Ad

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Another Protest was filed

L # 9888-May 15 1877
Louis Bousquet, a Saw Mill Proprietor ( It was on his property that the June 1876 fire started ) is owed money as well by the St Johns Glass Company. Interest is added to the amount owed as off February 15 1877. The amount is for 75 piastres and 83 centins.

May 23 1877 - Quebec Official Gazette
Notice of Arcade Decelles vs St Johns Glass Company. The land is to be auctioned by sheriff sale Oct 3 1877 to pay for the Company's debt to A Decelles.


saint johns glass company


On May 23, 1877 the court made a Judgement on the Merchant Bank of Canada in Montreal vs The St Johns Glass Company.

 The following documents give the details.
L # 9978 and L # 9979 - June 18, 1877 
These land records give the results of this court case - . The court is ordering the three directors of the St Johns Glass Company, Alexis Bertrand , Henry Gillespie and William Coote to pay $790.42 (includes costs ) on a Protested promissory note dated March 3, 1877. They are also responsible to pay the Merchant Bank on three other Protested promissory notes dated February 5, 1877 -$ 215.27 , February 10, 1877 - $817.18 and another on March 3, 1877- $ 605.68 plus costs $41.65.

There is also interest and costs for the protest notes and the deduction of monies already paid back  making the final amount $2145.69


This following date produced three documents involving William & David Yuile in the insolvency of the St Johns Glass Company.

L # 10027 - July 23 1877
Although registered as a land record ,   at the request of W & D Yuile , they have the official judicial assignee of the court of district of Iberville command the business papers, money and securities etc of the St Johns Glass Company be under the courts custody. They also require the St Johns Glass Company to appear at the Superior court of St Johns on or before July 28 1877.

In this following document another one of the investors , Alexis Bertrand ,  is claiming bankruptcy.  His personal business' relied heavily on transportation of produce and storage of it.  After the June fire , this aspect of life in St Johns became very difficult.                                                   

                                                                        July 23 1877- Quebec Official Gazette

william yuile st johns glass
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                                         July 23 1877 - Le Franco-Canadien

In this french language St Johns newspaper the notice for the Yuile's vs La Compagnie de Verre de St Jean ( St Johns Glass Company.

la compagnie de verre de st jean

Although W & D Yuile( Montreal) in the St Johns Directory 1876 are listed as the Agents for St Johns Glass Company, in the Montreal directory they are now listed as the following after having sold their wholesale druggist trade on May 2 1877.

( N # 9689 ) They however remain as the "co".

 Montreal Directory 1877                                                        Montreal Daily Witness - May 6 1877

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 The day after the St Johns Glass Company court notice appeared in the newspaper on July 23 1876 was the following -

July 24 1877 - Le Franco-Canadien

An article in this newspaper titled "Our Manufacturers and the Town Council" talks about the struggle to keep jobs created by these manufactures in St Johns when the Town Council is unwilling to support a failing business. A clause known as section 60 in the rules for providing manufacturers loans (40,000.) stipulates that the business must provide a report of their finances, yearly employee pay etc and most importantly can not be in a state of bankruptcy.  The Council can not be blamed for throwing good money after bad. The newspaper states a companies debt from setting up  buildings, equipment etc) , an administrations poor understanding of the type of product they are producing, and a lack of the finances needed all contributed to the demise of the Shoe factory and the Glass Factory in St Johns. In the case of the Glass Manufacturer the financial situation showed a potential for a profit but only in the future and the capital raised had melted away just as quickly as glass melts.

st jean sur le richelieu manufactures
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L # 10028 - July 25 1877

The St Johns Glass Company's property is now in the possession of L A Auger the Court Assignee. The lots given # 699 and # 700 are the updated  land register numbers for this property described as a triangular shape bounded by the same streets mentioned in L #9710

August 3 1877-Le Franco-Canadien
The notice announcing the court has seized the assets of the St Johns Glass Company and the creditors are required to appear at court on August 16 1877.


la compagnie de verre de st jean

This next article mentions the " hard times " meaning not only the economic situation but also the June fire and destruction of St Johns business section of town. Production may have stopped around February , but that is when Alexis Bertrand became the new President of St Johns Glass Company and a mortgage was obtained on the property .  Production most likely stopped sometime between April  when the protest documents were accumulating  and July .

August 10 1877 - The Journal of Commerce , Finance and Insurance

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                                  August 10 1877 -Le Franco-Canadien

A. Descelles VS the St Johns Glass Company-  the sheriff sale of their property lots # 699 and # 700 is set for September 29 1877. This was a printing mistake as the Quebec Official Gazette on May 23 1877 stated the date would be October 3 1877.

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                                 August 16 1877 - Quebec Official Gazette

The assignee is appointed for the St Johns Glass Company.

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After the court appearance on August 16 1877, the day after the french newspaper Le Franco-Canadien announced on August 17 1877 an order for the assets of the St Johns Glass Company be put into forced liquidation.

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                                              October 2 1877 - Le Franco-Canadien

The sale of Lot's # 699 and # 700 has been changed from September 29 to October 3.

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The public sheriff's auction never happened on this date.


 The following document shows  William and David Yuile were making arrangements  to become the main credit holders and  acquire the assets and property.

L # 10168 -October 10 1877
Jean Baptiste Bissonette is transferring the remaining $ 3500. plus interest due as of June 3 1877  debt made by the St Johns Glass Company (L # 9711) to William and David Yuile. Louis Molleur Fils is guaranteeing that the mortgage on the property is " legally hypothecated " but not that the property could sell for the amount due. Both he and JB Bissonette will not be held liable for a greater amount than this transfer. 

N # 4302 - October 20 1877
Signification of the transfer of deed of obligation ( L # 10168 ). Alexis Bertrand ( President of the St Johns Glass Factory ) is at the notary office and being told The St Johns Glass Company now owes W & D Yuile and no longer J B Bissonette for money owed on the mortgage. This document is so the St Johns Glass Company can not claim ignorance of this fact.

November 2 1877 - Quebec Official Gazette
This is Superior court notice gives a decision for the case now Arcade Decelles vs St Johns Glass Company and Divers Parties. The creditors are again required to put in their claims as there has been opposition as to how the money has been distributed.


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                                          November 3 1877 - Quebec Official Gazette

The date for the sale of the St Johns  Glass Company property is now set for January 15 1878.

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January 21 1878 - Montreal Daily Witness and the Quebec city newspaper Morning Chronicle -January 22 1878

                                       The Yuiles have bought the St Johns Glass property

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st jean sur le richelieu

A few months later the sale of property and assets is registered.

L # 10536 - April 1 1878
Sale of St Johns Glass Company property to W & D Yuile. The estate assignee Edward Copeland Knight is selling  for $2200. which will remain in the hands of the Yuiles as they held a higher $ amount mortgage on it. They are responsible for taxes as of January 15 1878 and have paid $494. for fees. The property lot # 699 and # 700 has four buildings on it. 

May 10 1878 - News and Frontier Advocate
The J C Ayer's Company is in full operation for the season. The St Johns Glass Company is at this time closed , so bottles were not being produced for them in St Johns. It is possible extras had been made. The News and Frontier Advocate  newspaper  on May 10 1878 was advertising only the pills which were in boxes at this time.


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ayer's cathartic pills
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August 2 1878 - Le Franco-Canadien
The newspaper states there is a rumour that the glass factory will soon be in operation.

                                                                                                                  August 29 1878 -The Cowansville Observer
                                                         The Ayers company has left St Johns after three months of production this season.

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J C Ayer passed away on July 3 1876 ,. His company continued however we could not find any record of them in St Johns after 1878 .

December 7 1878 - The Courrier de St-Hyacinthe

Is quoting from St John's Voix du Peuple that the Yuile's glass factory will soon start on a big scale operation. The Government is planning to put new tariffs  on some manufacturers  produce . The newspaper is listing  new business's starting up.

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Before the Yuile's reopen the glass works in St Johns , they make plans for it to be financially stable and decide to turn it into a corporation. The article in the "Journal of Finance, Commerce and Insurance in August 1877 had implied the St Johns Glass Company had tried also but it was not realized before the writ of attachment.

January 28 1879 - Quebec Official Gazette

The application for the incorporation of the Excelsior Glass Company.

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                                        February 3 1879 - Montreal Herald and Daily Commercial Gazette
                              The announcement for the Incorporation of the Excelsior Glass Company.

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                                               March 3 1879 - The Gazette
                  The word is out in St Johns that the Glass Factory will soon be started by the Yuile's.

excelsior glass company

                                          March 15 1879 - Montreal Daily Witness

The subject of tariffs and duties affecting different types of manufacturers is debated in Parliament and the newspapers at this time period. This article show how it could help the glass manufacturer.

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March 19 1879 - Montreal Daily Witness and Morning Chronicle March 20 1879

Preparation is underway by the Yuiles  as they have soda ash  shipped to St Johns for the glass factory.

excelsior glass company

The Glass Factory was fired up sometime during the week of March 24-29 1879 as the following articles state , although they differ as to the exact date.

March 25 1879 - Montreal Daily Witness                                                             March 26 1879 - Morning Chronicle
This account notes the glass factory  started production on March 24 1879.    This account say furnaces started March 25.    

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                                                    March 31 1879 - The Gazette

                This account says the Glass Factory is up and running again as of March 29 1879

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                                        April 12 1879 - The Montreal Gazette

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                                              Quebec Official Gazette - April 15 1879
                    It is Official-
                                      The Excelsior Glass Company is incorporated.

st jean sur le richelieu

The investors include the Yuile's father and  two men , John Douglass and William James McNiece working under the name  " Douglass & McNiece".

                                                      1879 Montreal Directory

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                                        May 23 1879 - News and Frontier Advocate

The newspaper is referring to the glass works as the  St Johns Glass Company, however it has now officially the Excelsior Glass Company. Preparations are under way to build the new kiln . It should be completed by the end of June and once again Charles Foster is involved.

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 These two following documents are based on a July 14 1879 Excelsior Glass Company meeting.

This notary record precedes the following land record with all the same information and but also includes an annexed copy of the minutes of the meeting on July 14 1879.  ( N # 15427 - June 7 1880 )
Although registered a year later,  the following information is based on an Excelsior Glass Company  July 14 1879 meeting  and notary record  # 15427.

W & D Yuile are selling the Lots #699 & # 700 " together with the machinery, tools, moulds, and plant in general formally belonging to the company lately known as the St Johns Glass Co. and also the patent rights granted to and enjoyed by  the said late St Johns Glass Co . of whatever nature and kind with all and every the members and appurtenances" to the Excelsior Glass Company Limited, having their principal place of business at Montreal . William V Lawrence , a wholesale drug merchant in Montreal and shareholder is representing the Excelsior Glass Co . It is all being sold for " seven thousand five hundred dollars currency ".  $2500 will be paid to William Yuile , $5500 to David Yuile and $2500 to William V Lawrence who according to a letter dated March 1 1879 had a third interest in the said property in which the deed was never completed. The money will be due March 1 1881 and interest will be calculated at 7% from March 1 1879.

 ( L # 11913 -July 7 1880 )

William V Lawrence was part of a wholesale druggists company possibly also needing bottles.

        1879 Montreal Directory                                     From the Lawrence Montague Lande Collection -Public Archives

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          August 15 1879  - Montreal Daily Witness         and      August 19 1879 - St Albans Advertiser

The glass factories usually stopped production  in the months of  July and August as the heat would be overwhelming. 

st jean sur le richelieu
St Johns Glass reopens The_St__Albans_Ad

                                        September 30 1879 - Montreal Daily Witness

Excelsior Glass Company Ad announcing they are open for business. This ad lasted for about one month only .

excelsior glass company

                             1879 St Johns Directory ( corrected to November 15 1879)

The Excelsior glass works is mentioned as being one of the manufacturers of St Johns. Charles Foster is listed as Foreman of the works while W F Borland is Manager. The Montreal directory does not yet mention the Excelsior Glass Company.

excelsior glass company
charles foster glass
excelsior glass company

  It is also important to note the Excelsior glass works in St Johns  was producing "all kinds of green (aqua) glassware ". There is no mention of any flint (clear) glass products in their Montreal Ad or in the Directory.

October 16 1879 - Montreal Herald and Daily Commercial 

 In the imports section  the Yuiles had ordered 34 tierces of soda ash for the glass factory. A tierce is a cask or vessel  (barrel) containing amount of forty two wine gallons.

w & d yuile glass works

                            October 28 1879 - Montreal Herald and Daily Commercial

First mention of Excelsior glass works moving out of St Johns reported first by The St Johns News.

excelsior glass company

                                                     October 29 1879 - Morning Chronicle

                                                         Trouble at the glass works.

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                              October 31 1879 - the Weekly Examiner -Sherbrooke, Quebec

The  possibility of glass company moving to Montreal next year is circulating in other newspapers as well.

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The articles proved to be correct. Land was purchased in Montreal.

L # 4847 -February 18 1880

On this date William and David Yuile bought from Edward Coyle, a Rope Maker a lot of land in St Mary's Ward, Montreal East described as " part of lot  # 1495 bounded in front by Parthenais Street , in rear by # 1495, on one side to the south east by the south east half of Mignonne, and on the north west by the remainder of said # 1495 ". It is 412 feet in width by 145 feet in depth . The Yuile's have immediate possession of the property , except for the Rope Walk (to twist fibers to make rope) which  is currently being leased and  which will be dismantled by May 1 1880.

Although the following articles comment on the back and forth efforts of St Johns to keep the glass works there, it seems the Yuiles had already made up their minds with the purchase of land in Montreal.

                                         March 8 1880 -  Montreal Daily Witness

According to this article at the last St Johns Council meeting , the Yuile's had told them what they would want if they are to stay in St Johns.

william yuile

In St Johns there is talk of trying to keep the factory in their town.

                                                March 12 1880 - News and Frontier Advocate

The St Johns Town Council are still in negotiations with the Yuile's about aid for the glass factory.

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More info on trying to keep the glass factory in the area.

                                         March 25 1880 -The Cowansville Observer

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                                               March 26 1880 - News and Frontier Advocate

                       Reports say negotiations are going well between the Council and the Yuile's.

william yuile david yuile

                                                April 2 1880 - News and Frontier Advocate

Two references mentioned about trying to keep the glass factory  in St Johns and the jobs associated with it.

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                                     April 9 1880 - News and Frontier Advocate

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                                              April 26 1880 - Montreal Daily Witness

This article explains the St Johns Town's Council slow approach for keeping the glass works in St Johns.

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                                               May 8 1880 - Morning Chronicle

The Quebec city newspaper reports news from Montreal May 7- the glass factory will be built in Montreal

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                                              May 13 1880 - The Gazette

                      It is confirmed that the Yuiles plan to build a Glass Factory in Montreal

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On  July 19 1880 , the Toronto Globe newspaper reports " The Glass Factory Company , says the St John's News , are demolishing their kiln and making active preparations to leave town . We understand that all the working men are also to leave immediately." ( Early Canadian Pattern Glass - Vol. 1 by Sid Lethbridge )

The Excelsior Glass Company Ltd office is in Montreal at the same address as the Yuile's .

                                            1880 Montreal Directory ( corrected to June 11)

excelsior glass company
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                                               August 2 1880 -Montreal Daily Witness

The move to Montreal is soon after this  article on the Excelsior Glass Company' s works. They will be expanding their product line.  Besides the  bottles, now clear glass products such as lamps, chimneys and tumblers will be included. They will also make all their own moulds and tools. There will even be a special floor just to cover the demi john bottles with willow. The buildings are now close to completion.

This article is in 5 sections - follow numbers so it will make sense.

                          # 1                                                                                              # 3

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                           # 2                                                                                              # 4

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                      # 5

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This dates the opening of the Excelsior Glass Company in Montreal as September 1880 according to an article published in La Feuille D'Erable (1881)- Full article will be presented in 1881 section.

The following news clip says what has become of the glass works property in St Johns . It is important to note work in glass factories usually stopped for the months July and August because of the heat and Union rules.
                                               September 10 1880 - News and Frontier Advocate

The glass factory property is no longer being used as such .   James MacPherson   an original member of the St Johns Glass Company , and  always a merchant  by trade is attempting another business venture.

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                                       1881 Montreal Directory

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                        March 21 1881-

Date given in 1884 Sessional Papers  for glass insulators ordered by Charles Drinkwater secretary of the Canadian Pacific Ry Co from the Excelsior Glass Company and delivered to R W ( WR) Baker and W H Kelson C P RY CO Winnipeg,  Manitoba for use on original construction of the main telegraph line there.

They are putting in their claim to be paid.

12,600 insulators in 126 pkgs for $189.----- 14,000 in 140 pkgs for $210.--------13,000 in 130 pkgs for $195.--------10,000 in 100 pkgs for $150.-----10,000 in 100 pkgs for $150. ( Sessional Papers Volume 9 1884)

                        August 8 1881 - La Feuille D'Erable
This article written about the Excelsior Glass Company works is based on a visit there by a reporter on August 6 1881. It is written in french and too long for complete translation however below is a summerized version in english and the complete article in french .
The reporter's first impression upon  his arrival in the glass factory yard is the presence of two large heaps - one of sand from Germany and one of soda ash. Upon entering the glass works there is a group of half dressed  men and boys working in a very hot environment caused by the ovens heat . It takes eight days to reach the proper oven temperature for preparing the glass and if a repair is needed to the oven it takes fifteen days to cool it down completely . Coal is the type of fuel used to heat the ovens. Each pot holds 1200 pounds of sand and ash mix.

The type of ovens used by Excelsior is the Robertson system from Brooklyn, New York. This is at a cost of $200. per month for Excelsior to have the rights of use. This systems principal advantage allows for each oven hole to be heated and accessed separately. Fifteen holes were in use at the time when the reporter made his visit but the company could double this amount depending on orders.

 The first product he saw produced was a lamp chimney. The glass blower takes just the right amount of glass and blows it into a teardrop shape , a boy takes the object to the Finisher who with a type of tong shapes it , back to the blower to warm it, then back to the Finisher to remove it from the blowpipe . This whole procedure took one minute only. Speed of the workers is necessary when working with glass.  The boy using a long stick brings the chimney ( as well as other products )   to the annealing oven where it will cool. This cooling takes about a half hour.

The reporter also witnessed bottles being produced. The glassblower takes up the glass on his rod and places it into a cast iron mould. A lever allows him to open and then close the mould on the glass. When closed the blower uses his blow pipe rod  and the blown air forces the glass to take the shape of the mould . A name, or grape leaves - in other words whatever pattern the mould has depending on who ordered  it - is on the bottle. The blower takes it out of the mould (forms it's lip) and sends it to the annealing oven. Products coming out of the annealing oven are cleaned of the smoke by women and packed for shipment.  From start to finish this process for bottles took forty minutes.

 Per day 1000 DOZEN lamp chimney  and pharmaceutical bottles, 500 DOZEN lamps and fruit jars, and thousands of bird water fountains, lantern globes, battery jars and telegraph insulators.


Excelsior provides all the glass produce needed for the Grand Trunk Railway.

 There  are over 100 workers, women and children. The pay ranges from $3. - $25. dollars a week with the glassblowers and finishers at the top of the pay list. The boys besides their ordinary pay can earn an extra tip per week if they work well. The glassblowers and finishers  are subject to terrible bouts of rage - the reporter states most die young and drink to forget their tiredness and possible early demise. ( It is also a very hot environment and they are under  a lot of pressure to produce items quickly ) .  

           #1                                         # 2                                # 3                                                  # 4                                      

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         # 5                                           # 6

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                       An auction of Excelsior Glass Company products is announced.

                     Montreal Gazette   - September 3 1881    and   September 8 1881

Excelsior Glass trade sale The_Gazette_S
Excelsior Glass Co The_Gazette_Thu__Sep_

                       Census 1881- Montreal East St Marys Ward and Montreal Directories for 1881

These documents give names to some of the workers at Excelsior Glass Company.  William Fletcher Borland the manager at St Johns is still with the company. John Gillespie of St Johns ( Potter and Carpenter ) is now working as a Glass Presser. Thomas Gilligan is the glassmaker and the following are names are glassblowers - Alfred Crist,  George Lawning,  Robert Cheesman,  Thomas Darcey,  James Martin, Thomas O'Conner,  and Denis Costello,  Edward Grenier,  James Harvey,  Louis Gagnon,  Hugh Winters,  Thomas Shane,  Barry Welsh,  Cornelius Foly, Patrick Cunan(?),  John Mackay,  Michel Meichland and Albert Gillespie ( John Gillespie's son )

William N Gillespie also works at the glass works and he is John Gillespie's son-in-law. 

Joseph Jones, labourer and author of a 1944 letter remembering his time at Excelsior and mentioned in TB King's "Glass of Canada" is also listed. His memories are fairly accurate except for the timeline of events.  Jean Victor Christophe Herdt and son Henry Herdt only appear as of 1883 and W F Borland was still a manager at the glass works in 1891 ( Census 1891).

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At the bottom of the newspaper clipping on the right ,Excelsior Glass Company's employee count.

An efficient way for a glass works to sell their wares was a clearing auction and in Excelsior's case a yearly one.

Notice the types of products they were producing.

   March 25 1882   -Montreal Gazette                                                   September 21 1882- Montreal Daily Witness

Excelsior glass employees, botton of ad
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                                     October 18 1882  and October 19 - Montreal Daily Witness

In these years in was common for teenagers to start working. They would  learn the trade of glass making from the ground up in hopes of eventually becoming a glassblower. It works out to approximately seven years of apprenticeship. These boys in the following news clip  hoped to improve their present wages . 

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January 8 1883 -  Montreal Daily Witness                                               January 10 1883 - Montreal Daily Witness 

 A fire at the glass works.
                                                                           Bit more info on the recent fire.                                                                                                                                                                                                    

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      August 28 1883 - Montreal Daily Witness                                August  29 1883 - Montreal Gazette

                        Two interesting articles describing glass blowers laborers and their employers.

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                                         August 29 1883 - Montreal Daily Witness and Morning Chronicle

                   Trouble brewing with the talk of a strike with the arrival of workers from France and Switzerland.

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Jean Victor Christophe Francis Herdt and his son Henry Herdt were according to Thomas B King's " Glass in Canada" brought out from France by the Yuile's. " JVCF Herdt was an experienced glassblower who had worked at the Baccarat works." Joseph Jones in his letter says Jean was manager of the flint glass and his son Henri was the office clerk. This started in 1883 . Mr Borland  apparently retired because of poor health (yet as it is noted later he does not leave the company )  By 1884 according to the Montreal Directory, Jean is listed as manager. T B  King goes on to say that " under the Herdts , the tableware operations gained impetus ". 

 It is interesting to note both Jean Herdt and William Fletcher Borland are part of the reorganization of Excelsior Glass Company into the North American Glass Company ( Oct 19 1883)

                                                    August 31 1883 - Montreal Daily Witness
In these articles  trade relations are discussed along with another article on glass blowers attitude .


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                                                     October 3 1883 - Montreal Daily Witness

                                                There was a strike as mentioned in this article.

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                                                      October 8 1883 - Montreal Daily Witness

                                                      Differences have been worked out for now.

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L # 11283 - October 9 1883

The Yuile's are buying more property ( Lot #1479) in St Mary's Ward, Montreal for the glass works.

                                                October 19 1883- Quebec Official Gazette

north american glass company

Application is being made to incorporate the North American Glass Company. The Excelsior Glass Company is being reorganized. William and David Yuile are still  part of the new organization , and included now as well are W F Borland and JCV Herdt managers in the glass works. David Williamson, clerk is also included. 

 McNiece & Douglass are no longer  part of the company. They have now become involved in another company -The British Porcelain Manufacturing Company which will produce different types of pottery in St Johns. (Quebec Official Gazette Application April  26 1883)

                                              October 19 1883 -Montreal Daily Witness

If glass blowers problems were not enough now their coal is possibly being stolen.

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L # 13874 -November 15 1883

The Excelsior Glass Company Limited is selling to William and David Yuile for $1 the property known as Lots # 699 and #700 in St Johns in consideration of the $2500. still owed. William V Lawrence acknowledges he has no further claim on the property.

Although the North American Glass Company was incorporated in October of 1883 , the Montreal Directory still listed them as Excelsior in 1883-84.

                                                                1885 Montreal Directory


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                                              Products of St Johns and Excelsior Glass Companies

On our site under Fruit Jars and Insulators , items produced by these companies can be seen.



The following section provides information on possibly the only confirmed goblets likely to have been made at Excelsior.

This section is about a pair of goblets mentioned by Newt Coburn in a Glasfax 1971 Vol.5 # 6 seminar newsletter .  This early research  on the glass works at St Johns ( now called St Jean sur le Richelieu  ) led him to meet a Mr Willie Campbell. It was in his home Mr Coburn saw a pair of pressed , engraved goblets mentioned previously in Gerald Stevens book " Canadian Glass ".

 These goblets had been given to Willie Campbell's parents  - William A Campbell and Ida Campbell and had been "presented to them at the time of their marriage ".  A few years later, the magazine " Canadian Antiques Collector " -

Jan-Feb 1973 had them on their front cover.


Inside the magazine is a mention these goblets had been donated to the Royal Ontario Museum by Kenneth Campbell  , grandson of William A Campbell.
It is at this point mentioned that although it is  possible these goblets could have been made at the Excelsior Glass Company , in Montreal "the attribution is a tenuous one and it is equally possible that the goblets were imported glassware and simply engraved in Canada as a wedding gift. "

On this website, under Historical articles  we have updated the information known on the Canada Glass Works in St Johns and the Foster's role in it. We also have  information on the St Johns Glass Company and the Excelsior Glass Company as well. 

This led us to look carefully at these goblets to see if the possibility of their being made in Canada could be more than an attribution.

Goblets made at the time of the Foster's 1855-1858 were free blown not pressed. The St Johns Glass Company ( December 1875-approx July 1877 ) did not produce any clear glass products or pressed glass tableware . The Excelsior Glass Co .  while at St Johns  (March 1879 - July 1880 ) also did not produce any clear glass products or pressed glass tableware .

 However, once Excelsior was established in Montreal in September 1880 they had expanded production and were  pressing items and using clear glass as well. ( see above in August 2 1880 Montreal Daily Witness and August 8 1881 La Feuille D' Erable and September 12 1882 Montreal Daily Gazette is an ad for an auction of  Excelsior products ) .

These goblets were given to William Anderson Campbell and Ida May Gillespie  for their marriage. On each  goblet is wheel engraved initials - "I  C " and " W C ". ( Ida & William Campbell )

Montreal Methodiste in the East End on LaGauchetiere Street Church records  state their wedding date to be January 2 1882. This is in the time period Excelsior Glass Company was pressing some tableware glass objects.

It is also important to clarify the family connections and the next information gives some genealogy.

W A Campbell was in the  1881 Census of St Johns . He is the Foreman for the St Johns Stone Chinaware Company. He was from Scotland and a 38 year old  widower. Ida is listed in the St Mary's Ward of Montreal census of 1881. She is 23 years old and lives with her parents , John Gillespie and Mary Ann ( Foster ) Gillespie. Ida's mother was the sister of  George  and Charles Foster. ( Both mentioned in Canada Glass Works Article and Charles also in St Johns Glass Company and Excelsior Glass Company while in St Johns not in Montreal ).

On this census page her father , John is listed as a " Labourer " and also on this page are glassblowers as well as the book keeper Ed Sawyer who we know worked at Excelsior. William n Gillespie ( John's son in law) is also an employee.

Albert Gillespie - John's son and Ida's brother -is listed as a glassblower in the 1881 census as well.

In the Montreal Directory for 1881- and until 1884 John Gillespie is listed as a " Glass Presser ". 

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In our article on John Gillespie under the Pottery section , we will give a detailed account of his life as a Cabinet Maker , Potter and then the discovery he worked as a  Glass Presser at the Excelsior glass factory  during the time period when these goblets would have been pressed.

Although there is still a slight possibility the Foster's sent a gift to Ida and William of  goblets made in the United States  , it would seem much more likely Ida's father pressed these goblets while working at Excelsior Glass Company in Montreal and had them engraved for his daughter's wedding gift . A  fitting tribute .  


Note - We have been informed by a Quebec researcher and collector that there are two other known identical goblets engraved with "I C". This suggests a set  were made .

This is the same type of goblet without the  engraving . Below is a picture from their collection.       




This is where we end our article on the St Johns Glass Company and Excelsior Glass Company .

However , it reorganized into the North American Glass Company and then into Diamond Glass , Diamond Flint Glass then to the Dominion Glass Company.
For more information on these glass companies -

Thomas B King's book Glass in Canada gives in depth information on them.

 Early Canadian Pattern Glass - Vol. 1-2 by Sid Lethbridge  also provides interesting product information.


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