A recent accession from Edward Wright (2014.18) has added considerably to the Archives’ stock of information relating to the match companies which used to exist in the town. Mr Wright is a collector of matchboxes (a phillumenist) and has done a lot of research into the matches made in Deseronto in the first half of the twentieth century.
The Rathbun Match Company was only in operation for a short time between 1915, when this advertisement appeared on the front of the Canadian Grocer, to 1916, when the Town Council minutes note that it ceased operations in June.
Canadian Grocer, August 20th, 1915
The Dominion Match Company seems to have taken over from the Rathbun concern, and it is clear from the Council minutes that the firm was offered tax exemptions for its site in Deseronto. The factory was on the northwest corner of Mechanic Street and Main Street, as shown in this extract from the town’s fire insurance map:
By 1917 the Dominion Match Company was looking to expand. At a Council meeting on July 17th of that year the firm asked:
…the Council to provide for the closing of Quinte Street [the road immediately to the west of the factory] and the diverting and altering of Mechanic Street…and for both portions of said streets to be conveyed to the Dominion Match Company for use in their business and as the enlargement of their premises will necessitate the employing of a great many more hands than they have at present, it will enduce to the prosperity of the town. If the request is granted the company will waive its right to exemption from municipal taxes for the year 1917 to which they are entitled…
The Council approved the request, effectively wiping Quinte Street off the map of Deseronto, and giving Mechanic Street the shape it has today.
The postcard below shows the factory at the height of its operations.
Postcard of the Dominion Match Company, from the collection of R.N. Goodfellow
Mr Wright has a collection of boxes which were manufactured at the Dominion Match Company, including this one of the Dominion Silent Match:
A third firm called the Beacon Match Company began operations in Deseronto in September 1919, but it is not clear where this factory was located. It may have used one of the vacated Rathbun Company sites.
A report in the Deseronto Post from March 17th, 1948 notes that the Chamber of Commerce was seeking a new owner for the Dominion Match building, which had “been vacant for many years”. It was in good condition, as it had been used by the Department of Defence during the Second World War.
Today, the Deseronto Community Recreation Centre occupies the site of the Dominion Match Company’s factory and Mechanic Street still has a kink in it: the only visible evidence of Deseronto’s match-manufacturing history and the only curving road in the whole town.