Roxton Pond #7

Roxton Pond is a town where artisans crafted the largest quantities quantity of tools produced in Quebec and maybe in Canada. Tools were manufactured that town for over a century and the names of Sem Dalpe and A. Monty are well known to all tool collectors. We may even say that this village has been, during a period of time, manufacturing more tools than any other place in Canada.

In 1885, when the Citizens requested a separation of the parish of Ste-Prudentienne to form the village of Ste-Prudentienne, among the first four petitioners, 3 are tool manufacturers: Sem Dalpe, S.F. Willard and Phillipe Nicol. The village was then separated from the parish and the first mayor was Sem Dalpe while Stephen G, Willard was a member of the village council. (Please see the “Histoire de Roxton Pond” by Diane J. Graveline.

(Click on the image for a larger version)

 

From Sem Dalpe to Arthur Monty to Adélard Monty to Ovila Lacasse

It is said that in 1865, Sem Dalpe had bought, for the sum of 1300 $, the furniture factory specializing in the production of wooden planes. Louis and Paul Payan were the sellers. (However this assertion could not be checked).

Let us say that the pioneer, Sem Dalpe, began making his planes in 1865. He learned his trade by working for E. Carter, plane manufacturer, in Troy, New York. (Robert Westley, who studied this story very well, believes that Sem Dalpe participated with his father (Dalpe-Pariseau) to the patriots rebellion in 1837. He then ran away to U.S.A. to avoid being arrested in Canada.)

He operated his factory until his death in 1895. He published a catalogue of his tools, and the 1889 version is well known to tool collectors. After his death, at the age of 66 years, his widow Dame Edesse Nicol, then sold to Arthur Monty the lot No. 9 of the village of Ste.Prudentienne "including the saw mill, the plane factory, the house and the barn". The price of the sale: $4000.00.

The two imprints used by Dalpe as well as a beautiful moving filetster made by him are shown here. One can read the important dates on the monument in the protestant cemetary.

 

Arthur and Adélard Monty.

On April 13, 1899, Arthur Monty sold his property to Adélard Monty for the sum of $4500.00.

When Arthur Monty bought the factory he probably disposed of the stock made by Sem Dalpe before adopting his own method of working, specifically his individual wedge shape as well as his exclusive imprint with the three stars. However he continued to make almost the same types of tools. A very nice piece then presented was his rosewood handled plow plane with boxwood screw arms, (No. 263). When Adélard Monty bought the mill he kept the same imprint and also the same way of working.

On April 12, 1972, accompanied by my two sons, Jean and Martin, I met with Miss Gertrude Monty, the daughter of Adélard. She told us that her father had 10 children. He had an accident on his farm, after which he had difficulty walking. So as to earn his living he then bought the mill and hired a certain Mr. Germain who was a specialist in plane making from Québec City. She gave me a photograph of the plane factory with all the workers standing in front of the building.

Also, I have learned that Adélard Monty was mayor of Roxton Pond from 1908 to 1913 and from 1917 to 1919. Madame Monty had only one regret: no example of the work done by her father has been kept by the family.

Adélard Monty died in 1927 and the plane factory was no longer used but Mr. Ovila Lacasse operated the saw mill until the death of Anna Bourbeau in 1944. In 1945 he finally bought the mill from Edgard Monty, then acting as executor in his parents’ succession.

Here we see the imprint used by the Arthur and Adélard and a very nice plow plane made by this factory. On the monument, in the catholic cemetary, the names of Adélard and his wife are inscribed as well as the name of their daughter Gertrude.

 

Ovila Lacasse.

As far as Mr. Ovila Lacasse, the successor of Adélard Monty is concerned, he firstly rented the saw mill and the factory. However, he never made any planes and he bought the property in 1945. His son Germain and his wife Laurette were kind enough to tell me what happened to the factory later on. In 1961 Mr. Ovila Lacasse went bankrupt and Jos and Jean Choinière bought the property in 1962. The saw mill was demolished in 1965 and the factory in 1966.

Mr. Lacasse is shown here behind the steam engine that operated the saw mill. The plane factory, on the second floor, was driven by hydraulic power.

In 1961, Mr. Ovila Lacasse went bankrupt and Jos and Jean Choinière are said to have bought the property in 1962.

The demolition of the saw mill was made in 1965 and the wood working shop was demolished in 1966 after being damaged by fire.

 

Mr. and Mrs. (Laurette) Germain Lacasse in front of their nice property on the shores of Lake Roxton.

 

Philippe Nicol.

On the date of our visit (April 12, 1972) we also met Mr. Philippe Nicol's son: William. He told me that he was born on August 3, 1872. At the time of the meeting he was at his sugar bush splitting hard wood with an axe. He mentioned that his father worked for Sem Dalpe and also for Stephen Willard who was a competitor to Dalpe. Although he was not a major manufacturer, Philippe Nicol nevertheless has made many tools that we can still find today. It is said that he was also associated to Sem Dalpe, his brother in-law, in the Roxton Pond Tool Company.

To the left is the imprint of P. Nicol. There is also a plow plane that he made.I

 

Roxton Pond Tool Company, The Roxton Plane, Roxton Pond, The Stanley Rule and Level Company.

W.S. Bullock, president of the Roxton Tool and Mill Company since 1902, sold to the Stanley Rule and Level Co. (in 1907) important properties among which "The absolute control of the water power, two dams, including the new one four hundred and twenty-one feet long, twenty feet high, giving thirty-four feet of head on water wheels, the electric plant with a capacity of five hundred lights extending over the entire village and plants; grist, sowing, planning mills; foundry, machine shops and complete manufacture of carpenter planes and "S" wrenches, with all equipment herein..." The Stanley Company ceased to operate in 1984.

Robert Westley mentions in his book "Guide to Canadian Plane Makers & Hardware Dealers" that Philippe Nicol and Sem Dalpe operated the Roxton Pond Tool Co. from 1873 to 1876 and in 1876 the company was owned by Nicol and Nectaire Gravel.

Here we see the imprint of P. N icol, a plow plane made by him and his monument.

The plow plane shown here was made prior to 1902 ... More searches are still to be made to complete this history.

 

In 1974, the 100th anniversary of tool making was celebrated in Roxton Pond. On the commemorative plaque one can read: : “THE ONLY LOCATION IN CANADA WHERE PLANES HAVE BEEN MANUFACTURED FOR ONE HUNDRED YEAR”

The Stanley Company.

W.S. Bullock had built the large stone building that is still in existence today. He remained at the head of the Stanley Co. for many years. In the early days, the company manufactured wooden tools, but soon started to make every kind of tools including the universal planes Stanley No. 45 and 55. The Stanley Company kept manufacturing tools until 1984 when it closed down.

My brother Réal helped me very much in my "in situ" works. He is shown here next to the fence brordering the back side of the property.

The building of Dalpe, Monty and Lacasse was located on the other side of the street. (St-Jean Street).

Stephen F. Willard.

All that I know about S.F. WILLARD is that he was a farmer in 1861 and a tool manufacturer in 1891. Many of the planes made by Willard can still be found today.

The above searches and texts were prepared by J.C. Jacques Héroux. See also Gallery No. 3 showing the tool factory of A. Monty.