General Motors Plant 1, also called the St. Catharines components plant, powertrain plant, axle plant, or transmission plant, is the sprawling industrial complex on Ontario Street backing onto the Twelve Mile Creek. It was the former site of McKinnon Industries, a manufacturing firm founded by Ebenezer McKinnon in the late 1870s. The huge plant got a modest start in a different location. In 1878, McKinnon and partner A.L. Mitchell opened a hardware store on St. Paul Street. They soon began the manufacture of carriages & wagons in a building behind the store on the bank of the old Welland Canal. In 1888, McKinnon took over the business and diversified into carriage dashes and fenders. In 1901, McKinnon Industries was a growing concern, and it moved its operations to the banks of the Twelve Mile Creek on Ontario Street. At the onset of the First World War in 1914, the company obtained important military contracts from the Canadian, British and French governments, contributing further to its growth and success.
Ebenezer McKinnon died in 1923, and two years later, his heir Laughlin McKinnon formed McKinnon Industries, adding wrenches, hammers and small tools to their product lines. In 1929, the company was purchased by General Motors. Contracts for equipment for the Second World War caused the plant to temporarily double in size to 4,200 workers between 1939 and 1945.
The industrial operations expanded considerably over the years, adding a foundry on Ontario Street in 1952, which has since closed. The plant has remained in continuous operation since its establishment on the banks of the Twelve in 1901. However, stiff competition from other auto manufacturers and relocation of manufacturing plants abroad in recent decades has made many worry over the future of the industry giant's St. Catharines operations.
Canadian Register - The McKinnon Industries Limited. 1959. University of Western Ontariohttp://www.lib.uwo.ca/programs/companyinformationcanada/cr-mckinnon.htm.
285 Ontario Street
St. Catharines, Ontario