The Products of Greenwich-Mohawk: Brantford Coach and Body Ltd.

Progress in Payloads

To celebrate the exploits of the companies that were once located on the Greenwich-Mohawk brownfield site in Brantford, a seve-part series will briefly introduce each of these industries, thier products and thier lasting impact on Canada and the world market. This third installment will examine the final transition from a carriage and wagon based transportation industry to that of the automotive era.

In the early 20th century the demands of industry and the growth of cities required the conversion of transportation to a form that could only be supplied by trucks and automobiles. Up to this point transport needs were furnished by numerous independant small carriage/wagon manufacturers and blacksmiths. All of this changed with the new realities of the internal combustion engine. In response to this, a carriage manufacturer had three options; a) change the product line to adapt, b) merge with, or buy out other firms or, c) go out of business. Picture a funnel, with a multitude of small manufacturers feeding their product into the market place. As time progresses and demands change, the number of companies is steadily reduced to the point that a strong leader emerges out the narrow end. Such was the case with Brantford Coach and Body Ltd.(BC&B).

Prior to the formation of BC&B in 1938 its predecessor, Canada Carriage and Body Co. Formed in 1924, was the result of several years of mergers of the CanadaCarriageCo
main carriage and wagon manufacturers in Canada, and was now controlled by the Cockshutt Plow Co. The Brantford Expositor Semi-Centennial Edition of 1927 describes the Canada Carriage and Body Co. As, “... the largest manufacturer of truck bodies in the Dominion.” This was an incredible feat considering the fact that the major automotive manufacturers of the early 20th century, Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge, made only the truck chassis; the body of the vehicle was supplied under contract with another company.

During the 1930's the product line was regularily expanded to include busses, dump trucks and hoists, station wagon bodies, camping trailers, and hearses.
The Second World War had the factory at 22 Mohawk St. (formerly the Adams Wagon Co., which was merged into the Canada Carriage and Body Co. In 1929) turning out special vehicle bodies for the Army.

With the end of the war, business once again focused on non-military needs. With the emphasis noe being housing and roads (and the means of shipping goods along those roads) production mainly was that of dump truck bodies and semi-trailers, and Brantford Coach and Body was the leader in Canada in the production of these.

By 1959 a new factory was constructed in Cainsville, on the outskirts of Brantford, as part of a 10 year expansion program. As an end result of the takeover of Cockshutt in 1958, BC&B was sold to Novo Industrial Corp. and the name was changed to Brantford Trailer and Body Ltd. The next 30 years would witness further acquisitions and name changes between the Trailmobile and Fruehauf companies. The end came in 1990 with the closure of the Cainsville plant and production being carried out from facilities in the U.S. In reflection Brantford had, without a doubt, left its mark on the transportation industry in Canada.

Author, Rob Adlam

For a more detailed history on Brantford Coach and Body, read “About Cockshutt”, by William H. Cockshutt and “From Wagon to Trailer: A History of Trailmobile Canada and its Forerunners”, by Michael Hand. Also contact UWO