Goodison Connection Information
Just across the river from Port Huron, Michigan, stands the city of Sarnia, Ontario. Before the turn of the century, Sarnia was the home of a thriving business that would have an indelible mark on the agricultural landscape of not only Ontario, but all of Canada, and several American states as well. Not unlike other companies of the day, this one, in its earlier years, would also see name changes as well as product line up changes.
By the turn of the century, however, the John Goodison Thresher Company was incorporated, and no further name changes would take place for the next forty years. Also, several previous products had been discontinued, leaving all company resources to focus on threshers and the development of both portable, and traction steam engines.
By 1903, the complete threshing outfit (engine and thresher) was available and with that came several years of prosperity. Since the company had no branches in western Canada, The International Harvester Company, by 1912, began distributing Goodison threshers in that part of the country.
With the entrance of the tractor, it became clear that Goodison would leave to manufacture one of these modern power plants, or supply one from another source. Since manufacturing was not a consideration, the search began.
In 1918, the company presented its first tractor for Ontario. It was the Emerson-Brantingham model 12-20. Also in 1918, an agreement was reached with the John Deere Plow company, to distribute Goodison threshers in western Canada.
1920 would prove to be a year of great significance. Goodison would become the exclusive distributor in Ontario for the Hart-Parr Tractor Company of Charles City, Iowa. This arrangement would form the beginning of "The Goodison Connection".
During 1925 and 1926, the transition was made from the older wooden body threshers to the new all steel body units. This design would remain until production of threshers was discontinued. Also in 1926, because of the popularity of tractors, the decision was made to cease production of steam traction engines. At this point in time, Goodison had no distribution branches in the United States, so a dealer organization was set up to distribute threshers in several states. This arrangement provided good success.
By 1930, the Oliver Farm Equipment Company had emerged, bringing with it dramatically different design changes. The new style tractors with vertical engines, came in two models; the medium sized 18-28, as well as the larger model 28-44. Both of these were very capable of powering Goodison threshers, as well as performing all other farming tasks. A row crop model was also offered to complete the line up. To compliment these new tractors, came an assortment of Oliver implements. The previous arrangement which had been put in place ten years earlier with the Hart-Parr Company would continue, making Goodison the exclusive distributor in Ontario for the Oliver Farm Equipment Company.
Certainly the depression years were a time of great uncertainty for Goodison. The company did however, manage to sustain, and as a result, when times improved, it was in a position to grow.
In 1936, a branch was established in Port Huron, Michigan. This allowed thresher customers in the United States to deal directly with an American company, who could serve their needs. Also in 1936, Goodison began selling Silver King tractors and related attachments. Since Oliver was not yet producing a small tractor, this addition would serve customers well for a few years, until the Oliver line was expanded to include the model 60 tractor. In the interim, however, Silver King filled this small tractor void very capably.
Over the years, branches were opened in other parts of Ontario, to improve distribution in high demand regions.
As time passed, the increasing popularity of the modern combine, would cause the demand for threshers to taper off. Since Goodison had large manufacturing capabilities, other products were being produced as time and space permitted. Some of these were agriculture related, and others were not.
In keeping with the times a new name appeared on the scene. Goodison Industries Limited. This name would remain until the company ceased operations. By the late 1940's, thresher manufacturing was discontinued, and by the early 1950's, all remaining inventory was transferred to other branches, and head office was relocated to the Toronto area.
After more than sixty years, the company which had helped to shape the politics as well as the economy of the City of Sarnia and the surrounding area, was now moving on.
From the new head office, business continued as usual for several more years.
By 1960, The Oliver Corporation, had suffered a major dismantling. About this time, Goodison made the decision to wind down its operations . It would be a couple of years before this was completed. Thus, after more than 40 years, the amazing "Goodison Connection" came to an end. And what a great ride it was.
Over the years, the Goodison name was affixed to the equipment which they sold in several different forms. These included stencils, brass plaques, shifter plates, and the immediately recognizable yellow decals.