A. r. clarke & company
My mother was kind enough to label what she knew before she passed away but there are still many unknown faces.
I came across one photo of a company hockey team. The team players are all lined up in rows and they are all named under the photo.
Champions Riverdale Manufacturers' Hockey League, 1912 - 13
N. NICHOLSON J. SULLIVAN G. OWENS ALF COLLINS
Left wing Point Cover Vice President and Manager
W. McILMURRAY E. RANDALL
Centre Rover and Captain
N. A. SAILER J. SPANTON GRIFFITH B. CLARKE A. CRAMER H. H. DIGGON
Treasurer Goal President Right Wing Secretary
Research on the internet told me something about the company that at least let me connect it with one side of my family. My Bell/Ryder family ancestors were from the Acton area and quite familiar with the leather industry. Clarke’s company was a tannery.
Alfred Russell Clarke born in 1861 was originally from Peterborough, Ontario and employed in the family leather business.
His father John died when Alfred was nineteen and so he and his brothers Frederick and Charles decided to move the company business from Peterborough to Toronto.
In 1882 they established the A. R. Clarke & Co. on Francis Street near the St. Lawrence Market. By 1902 Alfred would own the company outright.
The Company prospered and he soon relocated a larger building at 633 Eastern Avenue aside the Don River. By 1899 Clarke incorporated the company with himself as president.
Clarke listed as a leather manufacturer at age thirty in the 1891 census is married with a wife and two young children as well as a general servant and a nurse living with them. He was already prospering from the family business.
By 1915 the company was one of the largest leather manufacturer in the British Empire and it would continue until it became one of the largest worldwide. According to my picture as early as 1912 Clarke’s son Griffith was president of the company, just twenty-two years of age but Clarke senior must have still been in charge. He went to New York in May of the same year to board as ship from the luxurious Cunard line “The Lusitania”, He was sailing to England on a week-long business trip. The ship left port May 15th and set sail for England.
Six days at sea and within sight of the Old Head of Kinsale, on the southern coast of Ireland, the boat was torpedoed by the German submarine U-20. It sunk within eighteen minutes. Eleven hundred and ninety-eight passengers and crew lost their lives and seven hundred and sixty-four survived that day.
The A. R. Clarke & Company continued to operate on Eastern Avenue under the control of his son, but control left the Clarke family in 1977. Just ten years previous to the company leaving the family they purchased the Breithaupt Leather Co. Limited o Kitchener. Along with that came their tanneries in Hastings and Campbellford. Those old stone buildings that sit along the banks of the Trent River, are all but abandoned. These massive structures are quite impressive considering the size of the towns they were in and must have created much employment.
This brings me back to the picture. Apparently Mr. Clarke was also a governor of the Toronto Housing Company, and at one time president of the Riverdale Businessmen’s Association as well as a director of the Ontario Motor League. Seems he was an all round community minded person. He also chaired a committee to raise money for an ambulance used in France by the Red Cross.
The hockey team in my picture was probably organized by Mr. Clarke himself. These things raised company spirit and loyalty. It brought families of the workers out to cheer for the company team and also was a way of advertising and promoting the company.
Back into to my family information, gathered over many years I found exactly what I was looking for; the connection. Robert John Bell, my grandfather, worked for Clarke & Co. It is possible that perhaps my grandmother Alice Maude Ryder, a glove maker, might have worked for them as well. Maybe someone out there will recognize a family ancestor from the 1912 A. R. Clarke & Company hockey team.
Anyone wanting to read more about the Lusitania check out the story at
http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/lusitania-lest-we-forget-2.html look for Clarke on the page for an amazing recount of the events and all about Mr. Clarke, company and family.
See Robert John Bell