Beginning as the firm of Tuttle, Date and Rodden, The Welland Vale Works was founded in 1869 on the Welland Canal (the "Welland Vale") in St. Catherines, Ontario. They made wagon wheels and a variety of edge tools and by 1871 they had about 120 employees and production putting them in the top one percent of Canadian manufacturers. By 1874, they were Canada's largest axe maker, famous for their "Black Prince" axe, among others.
Other Welland Vale brands included "Lion", pictured below on another axe I subsequently stumbled across:
In 1892, they established a subsidiary in Montreal, the Canadian Axe & Harvest Tool Company. The company was quick to capitalize on the bicycle craze at the end of the 19th Century, producing a variety of bicycles beginning in 1896.
|Canadian Homes, June 1961|
After serving a variety of the functions, the Welland-Vale axe factory is now the home of the Biolyse Pharma Corporation, Canada's only manufacturer of oncology drugs. These are based on a compound found in the Eastern yew tree (Taxus canadensis) which ironically doesn't need to be cut down to obtain the substance.
As for my axe, it has now been completely cleaned up, sharpened, and fitted with a new handle, to resume its original function in my wood lot.
Below, some additional photos sent to me by Jason, a visitor who has previously contributed tool photos for James Warnock. He commented:
"Was out today at a garage sale and came across these three. Couldn't believe I could find all in one place. Usually I am pretty selective about items I pick up but had to grab all of these. If you want feel free to ad them to the post about Welland Vale. Keep up the awesome work on a greatly appreciated blog."
Thanks Jason for the photos and the kind words!
I wonder if the "DHO" initials stamped on one of these axes stood for the Department of Highways Ontario? If so, it would indicate that Welland-Vale was an official supplier to the provincial government. In addition, since the Department of Highways designation lasted from 1930 to 1972, it would provide a rough indication of the age of the axe.
Below are images of another head sent in by Mike Schaefer. This one seems to be an earlier example.