A Plan is Hatched: The birth of Kingston's Frontenac Cereal Co. Ltd.

Michael Peters Orange Meat

This is the second in a series of blog posts exploring the fascinating history of Kingston's own Orange Meat breakfast cereal. Click here to start at the beginning!

Our earliest signs in the public record connected to Orange Meat and the Frontenac Cereal Company start to appear in the spring of 1902.

A Big New Company Formed (Daily British Whig - May 19, 1902)Reporting from the Daily British Whig allows us to identify a very specific date for the establishment of the Frontenac Cereal Company: Monday, May 19, 1902.

On that date, noting that "notice of incorporation was received only this morning", the Whig reported the news with the headline: "Big New Company Formed: A Kingston Company Capitalized at $600,000".
The new Company would absorb the existing milling company, grain elevator and transit company under a single concern, and significantly increase their capacity.
Notably, right from the outset, the plan seemed to pursue manufactured food stuffs, "beyond the manufacture of flour", setting the stage for the development of Orange Meat.
Acknowledging that further announcements regarding officers were yet to come, The Whig nonetheless identifies five prominent Kingston residents as the primaries associated with the new company.

Hon. William Harty - By 1902, William Harty was already a prominent businessman and leader, representing Kingston on City Council and in the provincial legislative assembly. Earlier in 1902, he was elected in a by-election, and joined Wilfred Laurier's governing Liberals in Ottawa. 
George Richardson - In 1902 George A. Richardson was the president of James Richardson and Sons, already the most powerful grain dealers in town. (Interestingly, this company still exists, and is one of the most powerful private agri-businesses in Canada). In addition, the Richardson family were prominent local Tories, having been strong allies of Sir John A. Macdonald throughout his career.
Thomas Donnelly - Captain Thomas Donnelly was also a prominent local Tory, a well-known sailor, and respected as an inspector of ships and for marine salvage and wrecking. He ran for mayor in 1901, after previously serving as an Alderman and school trustee.
Henry & Edwin Mooers - The Mooers family controlled the both the existing elevator and transit company and the milling company, both based at the foot of Gore Street. These facilities would make up the foundation of the new cereal company's operations. 

Frontenac Cereal Company Announcement (The Canadian Grocer - July 1902)Despite a range of business expertise and political leanings, there were many connections between these gentlemen which likely led to their meeting of minds.

Harty and Richardson were both part of a group that gained control of the Canadian Locomotive and Engine Company in 1901, installing Harty as the managing director.

Richardson and Donnelly were both Kingston aldermen who spoke strongly in favour of granting the Mooers $25000 and numerous other considerations to help build their Gore Street elevator facilities originally. When Captain Donnelly was married in January 1902, Edwin Mooers was his best man.

If all of that sounds a little too cozy for modern tastes, it is important to bear in mind that the mixing of business and politics and personal relationships was commonplace at the time. And, at the turn of the century, Kingston's population was still less than 20,000 - and the circles and society of successful and influential families was smaller still.

Ottawa Citizen - May 19, 1902

These men were familiar with each other from church, service clubs and university functions, and had done business together already, likely often and in a variety of ways. Rather than suspicion, gathering together to expand a local concern was viewed as evidence of community spirit. The Whig likely captured the overall sentiment of the time - "It Will be Good For The City".

While it is difficult to know the specific motivations which brought each individual to the table, upcoming posts in this series will explore some of the factors which likely made this an interesting proposition for Kingston, at this moment in history. 

Click here for the next episode.

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