Sherlock-Manning Piano Company Ltd.

Sherlock-Manning Piano Company Ltd (Sherlock-Manning Organ Co 1902-10; Sherlock-Manning Piano and Organ Co 1910-30, Sherlock-Manning Pianos Ltd 1930-51).

Sherlock-Manning Piano Company Ltd.

Sherlock-Manning Piano Company Ltd (Sherlock-Manning Organ Co 1902-10; Sherlock-Manning Piano and Organ Co 1910-30, Sherlock-Manning Pianos Ltd 1930-51). Manufacturer located 1902-30 in London, Ont, 1930-78 in Clinton, Ont, 1978-80 in Hanover, Ont, 1980-9 again in Clinton, Ont, and from 1989 in Vanastra, Ont. The company was established in 1902 as the Sherlock-Manning Organ Co by J. (John) Frank Sherlock (b ca 1851, d 31 Dec 1931) and Wilbur Manning, both lately of the W. Doherty Co (Doherty Pianos Ltd). According to Industrial Canada (February 1904), about 100 reed organs were produced each month by 50-60 employees. By 1914 Sherlock-Manning was seeking to establish regular export trade in Australia, New Zealand, and South America, having had some success with organ sales to these countries. During World War I the firm is reputed to have been the first piano company in Canada to train and employ women in its production plant. By 1920 Sherlock-Manning had the capacity to produce 1500 pianos per month; that number increased greatly as the firm purchased financially embarrassed or bankrupt piano companies including Doherty Piano and Organ; Foster-Armstrong Co, Kitchener; the Karn Piano Co; and, from the trustee, Gourlay, Winter & Leeming, Ltd. The last-named three companies became divisions within the Sherlock-Manning organization, and their pianos were produced in the firm's London factories. Sherlock retired ca 1924, selling his interests to Manning. The company was incorporated that year as Sherlock-Manning Pianos Ltd, (although it continued to produce reed organs until the 1950s and electric organs during the 1950s) and completed its relocation in Clinton, Ont by 1930. The firm continued production - in the mid-1960s it was the smallest of five existing manufacturers in Canada - until it merged in 1978 with Heintzman &Co, continuing as Heintzman, Ltd, with a factory in Hanover, Ont. Draper Bros. and Reid Ltd (who had purchased the Clinton factory following the company's move to Hanover), secured the Sherlock-Manning name when Heintzman went into receivership, and once again began manufacturing pianos in Clinton (1000 by 1983). When the Drapers and Joe Reid retired, the company was sold (4 Oct 1984) to PSC management; it then passed through the hands of several principals, but was plagued by continuing finincial problems. In May 1988 the factory was moved to nearby Vanastra, Ont. The company - the last piano manufacturer in Canada - continued to exist in 1991, pending the refinancing needed to complete partially built pianos and fill existing orders.


Further Reading

  • Teitel, Jay. 'Piano forte: an ode to the small miracle of Sherlock-Manning,' Quest, May 1982.

    Draper, D. Murray. W.D.: The Story of Doherty and Sherlock-Manning: History of Organs and Pianos Manufactured in Clinton, Ontario 1875-1986 ([Clinton, Ont, 1986])

    Motherwell, Cathryn. 'Draper faces the music as creditors close in,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 14 Jul 1987

    'Sherlock-Manning reopens,' Canadian Music Trade, May 1988

    McDougall, Bruce. 'Against all odds,' Small Business, May 1989

    Kelly, Wayne. Downright Upright: A History of the Canadian Piano Industry (Toronto 1991)