270 Sherman

Tags: Doors Open Hamilton 2013, E.B. Patterson, Factory, Industrial Sector, Murdoch Mysteries

Architect: E.B. Patterson

Address: 270 Sherman Avenue North
Date Built: 1900  

The history of 270 Sherman can be traced back to a Yarmouth, Nova Scotia cotton duck mill in 1863. It was owned and operated by local sea captains and it ran into trouble after only a few years. Charles T. Grantham was appointed to fix their books, and after four years he resigned to open a rival company in Hamilton, Ontario. Grantham approached John Patterson, one of the "5 Johns" responsible for the "Industrial Age" in Hamilton and landowner to the spot where 270 Sherman would be built. J. Patterson agreed to fund Grantham's cotton mill venture and selected his brother Edmond Patterson as the architect.

The cotton mill was built in 1900 and named the Imperial Cotton Company. James M. Young was the president of the company. He was also the son of John Young who was an original investor with the Dundas Cotton Company (1860 - 1891) and a distant relative of Robert Young, the current owner of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The cotton company attributed to the growth of the second largest industry of Hamilton's economic development, which was textile production.

The Imperial Cotton Company specialized in heavy duct cotton, which was used for items such as boat sails and building awnings. Orders were taken from all over the world using telegraphic code. As found in Hamilton Public Library Local History and Archives Collection, the Imperial Cotton Company had its own codebook to simplify orders. Classes of cotton duck manufactured were "once & sail", "harvester" & "hydraulic", "hose, bootleg and tennis", and "filter and press". Archival records also show that the Imperial Cotton Company manufactured the sailcloth of the iconic Canadian Bluenose.

The workers at the mill were more than colleagues to one another; instead, they were a community, as noticed in the company's quarterly published newsletter, "The Fabricator". The newsletter published stories of marriages, births and deaths of the employees, and recounted their vacation tales, which often included visiting other factory mills. The managers of the building also wrote important notices regarding a group insurance plan, health and safety tips, the addition of a new 165-seat cafeteria with hot meals and electric refrigeration, and the performance of sport teams developed at the mill, among other things. Publications of the newsletter from 1920s - 1926 are found in the Hamilton Public Library Local History and Archives Collection.

Today, 270 Sherman has been repurposed as a creative complex. The original structures of the building remain and have been noted as one of the most complete historic mill complexes that still exist in the country. As George Dark of Urban Strategies has stated, he feels that the buildings which together comprise 270 Sherman are perhaps second only to the Distillery District in Toronto as a complete example of a 19th Century industrial complex.

Built with brick and wood in the "slow burning" method, the three-storey mill building, with its prominent tower, housed most of the original machinery. The architectural style of its tower suggests a gothic influence and it was designed to compete with other architects of the day. Adjacent structures were used for sorting, painting, finishing, shipping, waterproofing, and warehousing.

Spaces today have been transformed into various workshops for craftspeople, office space for creative professionals, and studios for artists. Over 50 tenants call the facilities of 270 Sherman home for their creative practice. Among them are photographers, designers, painters, potters, filmmakers and woodworkers. As well, the property is often used by Film Productions some noted productions include CBC hit television show Murdoch Mysteries, The Real Ripper (a documentary based on Jack the Ripper), Bomb Girls, a mini series of The Kennedys and the recently released featured film, "The Art of the Steal".

Find out more about 270 Sherman on their website.

Website: http://www.270sherman.ca

Entry by: Kathy Woo and Ashley Solak


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