What was Corning Glass Works of Canada? 

In June 1945, Corning Glass Works completed negotiations for the purchase of about eight acres of land and buildings which were part of a property owned by Research Enterprises Ltd.  It was located in Leaside Ontario, near Toronto.  This government-owned company was a producer of radar equipment and optical glass, established about 1940 for the purpose of manufacturing supplies for the war effort.

                 

Pyrex T.M. Reg. Made In Canada
501 Refrigerator Dish, marked Pyrex ... T.M. Reg. ... Made In Canada.

The property was sold by the War Assets Corporation to Corning Glass Works for just $150,000.  Its original cost had been $522,000, and no other bids were tendered.  The Minister of Reconstruction, C.D. Howe, was responsible for the War Assets Corporation, and he was asked why an American firm, rather than a Canadian one, had enjoyed such a bargain.

He admitted that the factory had been built "under an agreement" with Corning at a time when he had been the Minister of Munitions and Supply.  Originally an American citizen, the politician was criticized for arranging a brand new factory to be built expressly for an American company at the expense of the Canadian taxpayer.  It was an inappropriate agreement that prompted some to question his loyalty.  Another portion of the R.E.L. property was sold to North American Philips, a radio manufacturer based in the United States.

              

Canadian Dry Measure, 18
"1 cup - dry measure", model number 18.  American measuring cups had progressed to red printed markings in 1940 & 1941, but some Canadian ones have embossed lettering even though they are at least six years newer.  All dry measuring cups made in the U.S. have red markings.
              
In September 1945, Corning announced the commencement of a factory reconversion in preparation for producing Pyrex ovenware for the Canadian market.  The new subsidiary was named Corning Glass Works of Canada Pyrex Brand ... Corning Glass Works of Canada Ltd.Ltd., and the former director of R.E.L.'s optical glass division was appointed as the general manager.  Corning decided that Leaside should be "a strictly Canadian enterprise", adopting a policy that all permanent employees must be Canadian citizens.

The reconversion was completed June 1946, and during July the manufacture of small quantities of bakeware began, but production remained at a low level for many months.  In January 1947, a statement was released announcing that full-scale production had been achieved at Leaside.

Advertising in December 1947 drew the attention of consumers to the advent of Canadian-made Pyrex: "Now ... Famous Pyrex Ovenware Made In Canada!  Pyrex Ovenware is being produced ... Now, in a Canadian Factory ... employing Canadian workmen."  A special offer celebrated the event, a three-piece set of clear Pyrex rimmed nesting bowls for only 99¢ until January 31 1948.

         

Clear Pyrex rimmed nesting bowl set, 5 piece
Clear Pyrex rimmed nesting bowl set, five-piece (321, 322, 323, 325, 326).  A 321 holds ½ Qt, and the 326 has a square base.

Opal Pyrex and clear Pyrex were produced at the Leaside plant, with most products mirroring their American-made counterparts.  They include: multi-colour refrigerator sets & 400-series nesting bowls, red & yellow Hostess sets, Lime & Flamingo bakeware, and Pyrex Dinnerware in four colours, plus clear Pyrex bakeware, rimmed nesting bowls, measuring cups and baby bottles.

Some items were unique to the Canadian market.  In the U.S. at that time, clear Pyrex rimmed nesting bowls were manufactured only in sets of three (322, 323, 325), the 326 not arriving until 1979.  But in Canada, a 326 with a square base was added in 1949 to make a four-piece set, and the addition of a 321 in the early 1950s made a five-piece set.

         

Canadian Pyrex 021/621 individual casserole
Individual 021/621 casserole, holds 12 oz rather than ½ Qt, introduced 1949.  Canadian-made casseroles in larger sizes, 022 to 026, have the same shape as American ones, but this is a size that was not made in the U.S. at the time, and it is a distinctly Canadian shape.

Tinted opal Pyrex was a product that had not yet appeared in the United States, but Leaside manufactured tableware in two shades of blue opal Pyrex and an ivory version that was branded "Corex".  The first shade of blue opal was called simply "Blue" or "Pastel Blue" on packaging and in advertising, and the product line was named "Pyrex Diningware".

Tableware entered production in September 1947, and ivory Corex was most likely the first to emerge.  Pastel Blue Pyrex debuted during 1948 or 1949.  The shapes are borrowed from Corning's ribbed "piecrust" pattern produced at the former MacBeth-Evans plant in the late 1930s & early 1940s.  No official name was given to this embossed pattern.  It is uncertain whether ivory Corex was made after 1949, but Pastel Blue was available up to 1953.

          

Corex Sherbet, Blue Sugar Bowl, Turquoise Creamer; Pyrex Diningware
Ivory Corex sherbet, Pastel Blue Pyrex sugar bowl, turquoise Pyrex Crown creamer.

An entirely new embossed pattern with a three-pointed crown motif debuted early 1952 in pale turquoise tinted Pyrex.  This product line was named Crown Tableware, and advertisements usually described the colour as turquoise.  Simpson's called it "a dainty turquoise shade".  This pattern remained on the market up to 1954.

Certain Pyrex items were not made in Canada, but were made available by importing them from the United States.  Canadian-made Pyrex Dinnerware in Lime, Flamingo, Turquoise or Dove Grey never has gold trim, but gold-trimmed sets from the U.S. were supplied.  Red & yellow Hostess bowls in 1½ Qt & 7 oz sizes exist with a "Made in Canada" backstamp, but 2½ Qt & 12 oz sizes do not.  Plenty of the latter sizes were sold in Canada, but they are all American-made.  Multi-colour nesting bowls & refrigerator dishes were not always produced at Leaside, so most of the sets purchased by Canadian shoppers were U.S. imports.

 

Pyrex lids for Flameware teapots
Pyrex lids for Flameware teapots.  The teapots they belong to are marked "Made in U.S.A."

Flameware glass was not processed in Canada.  But pieces like teapots and saucepans have lids & handles made of ordinary Pyrex, and beginning September 1947, these components were produced at Leaside.  Finished products were assembled there with the addition of Flameware bowls shipped in from a U.S. factory.

Melting glass in a furnace requires a massive amount of energy, and if any efficiency is to be gained it must operate on a continual basis.  It became apparent that Canada's small marketplace could not absorb all the Pyrex that flowed from Leaside's single melter, so it was shut down in 1954.  Evidently, an abundant stockpile of inventory was accumulated and Canadian Pyrex remained available at the retail level for years afterwards.

The plant was not closed, but it became a warehouse and distribution centre, handling new Pyrex products coming in from the United States and Britain.  The unused furnace became outdated, but it remained in place for some time, because officially the plant had a "stand-by manufacturing status".  At one point only six people were employed there. 

 

Corning Ware Saucemaker, Leaside, January 1965
Corning Ware Saucemaker (1 Qt), marking an achievement at Leaside.  The other side is printed with "January 1965".  It might relate to the plant earning an "A" safety rating.

In 1958, activity at Leaside increased when it was decided to ship in certain products in an incomplete state, needing a small degree of assembly.  This strategy saves on import duty, which is less costly for partly finished goods.  The products were packaged at Leaside as well.  Purchasing ancillary items from local suppliers, like handles, cradles, and other metal parts, as well as packaging materials, became the responsibility of the Canadian subsidiary.

In the autumn of 1959, the Leaside facility began processing Corning Ware, with the products reaching Canadian store shelves just one month after nation-wide distribution had been achieved in the United States.  But still, the plant was not melting glass and moulding cookware, but was decorating and ceramming pieces that were already moulded in a U.S. plant.  When Corning Ware is newly formed, it looks like ordinary clear amber glass.  Ceramming is the heat treatment that transforms glass into glass-ceramic, turning the clear amber pieces into white opaque Corning Ware.

 

Teapot assembled in Canada, Robertson screw
Corning Ware teapots assembled in Canada are usually held together with a Robertson screw.  This teapot's name is Springflowers.

Patterns found on Canadian Corning Ware are generally the mainstream high-volume ones, like Blue Cornflower, Floral Bouquet, Spice O' Life and Wildflower.  The latter decoration was named Springflowers in Canada, but the pattern itself was not altered.  Only a certain range of shapes and sizes were processed in Canada, and the product line was supplemented with items that were fully manufactured in the U.S.

In 1962, television tubes became another product for the Canadian factory.  The glass components were formed in an American plant, then assembled at Leaside and fused together in an oven.  It was convenient to supply Canadian television manufacturers from this location, and Philips Electronics was right across the street.

 

Pyrex measuring cup, Muskoka plant
Mid 1970s Pyrex measuring cup, commemorating the Muskoka plant.  It is American-made, but was probably decorated in Canada.

In 1967, a second plant for Corning Glass Works of Canada was built in Bracebridge Ontario.  It was known as the Muskoka plant and it also produced television tubes.  This facility was closed about 1975 when demand declined.

In the late 1970s, the company name changed to Corning Canada Inc.  The Leaside plant was shut down in the early 1990s and has been demolished.  Over the course of this facility's lifetime, a re-alignment of urban boundaries meant that the town of Leaside eventually became a well-defined neighbourhood within the city of Toronto.

 

Canadian Corning Ware box
Canadian Corning Ware box.


Sources:

Newspaper Archives, various.


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