By Andrew Holman
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Extra info for A Sense of Their Duty: Middle-Class Formation in Victorian Ontario Towns
The most prominent example was the steam-driven Goldie & McCulloch foundry, which produced engines, boilers, safes, and mill-gearing for national and international markets, regularly employing 160 workmen. By the i88os, its workshops occupied a whole town block, 300 by 450 feet and three stories high, and regularly employed over 200 hands. Places like Goldie & McCulloch, however, were clearly exceptional in their mercurial rise. Even by the i88os, the majority of merchants and manufacturers in Gait had operations little bigger and not much more complex than those they had had in the 18505.
Sheridan Hogan's prize-winning 1855 essay, Canada, "their example would be alike a matter of wonder and instruction ... " In the minds of many, Canada was a "poor man's country," a democracy offering success and social mobility to those with sober and industrious habits but limited horizons in the Old World system. "29 At the same time, other commentators in this era knew that the promise of an egalitarian society in British North America was chimerical; if and where that kind of democracy existed, it could hardly last very long.
The swift-moving Grand River supplied ample power for the earliest manufacturing establishments, and by the mid-i84os Gait was already a place "fast rising into prosperity," boasting grist and saw mills, cloth factories, distilleries, pail and last factories, a brewery, a tannery, and a plethora of artisan shops. The arrival of the Great Western Railway in 1854 fuelled the town's industrial growth by connecting Gait producers with Hamilton, Toronto, Montreal, and various export markets, as well as points west.