History of DuPont Canada
Hamilton Powder Company, 1862
The Hamilton Powder Company, a manufacturer of explosives (gunpowder and nitroglycerine, mainly), was incorporated in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1862. Its products were used to clear the way for railway construction as well as for the Lachine and Welland canal projects. Its early success attracted the attention of Lammot du Pont, a partner in his family’s company, E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company. Lammot du Pont purchased shares in Hamilton Powder in 1876 and joined its board of directors. The following year, the company secured a contract to supply black powder and dynamite for the construction of what would become the Canadian Pacific Railway. With the help of du Pont, Hamilton Powder purchased its rival powder manufacturer, Acadia Powder Company, which was owned by Nobel Industries, in 1883.
Canadian Explosives Limited, 1910
Hamilton Powder continued to expand, and in 1910 it merged with other explosives manufacturers to form Canadian Explosives Limited (CXL), which was co-owned by du Pont (45 per cent) and Nobel (55 per cent). The new company was a major explosives manufacturer during the First World War, serving Canadian and allied forces. After the war, it acquired three subsidiaries of E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company. To reflect its broader orientation — CXL had moved into the production of paints and varnishes — the company changed its name to Canadian Industries Limited (CIL) in 1927.
Canadian Industries Limited (CIL), 1927
CIL produced various types of synthetic materials such as cellophane film — a clear material made from cellulose that is used in food packaging. In 1932, CIL built a cellophane plant in Shawinigan, Québec, one of the company’s largest factories. CIL was also the first Canadian producer of nylon — a synthetic plastic fibre used as a textile. In 1942, the company built the world’s second nylon factory in Kingston, Ontario (see Textile Industry).
During the Second World War, CIL established Defence Industries Limited (DIL), a subsidiary that supplied explosives and chemical products to the war effort. At its height, DIL had about six times more employees than CIL.
After the war, the company became the subject of an antitrust suit filed in the United States against its two major shareholders, E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI, which had acquired Nobel). As a result, CIL was broken up in 1954, with ICI continuing certain operations under the CIL name. The other operations remained with E.I. du Pont de Nemours and were regrouped as DuPont of Canada Limited. E.I. du Pont de Nemours owned 75 per cent of shares.
DuPont of Canada Ltd., 1954
DuPont Canada, established 1 July 1954, had two main product lines: films, including cellophane cellulose films and polyethylene sheeting, and textile fibres, including nylon. DuPont Canada also acted as a Canadian distribution and marketing hub for products from its parent company in the US.
Over the following decades, the company expanded and diversified, shedding businesses whose products had run their course and investing in opportunities that would help keep it at the forefront of materials science and technology. In this regard, DuPont established research and development facilities in Kingston, Ontario. The company also opened new factories in Ajax, North Bay, Sarnia and Whitby, Ontario, where they made paints, explosives and polyethylene resins.
DuPont Canada Inc., 1993
In 1993, the company was renamed DuPont Canada Inc. In 1998, DuPont Canada acquired Granirex Inc., a Québec-based company that produced engineered-stone, a product made from crushed stone such as granite or marble that is held together by resin.
At the beginning of the 21st century, DuPont Canada was engaged in the manufacturing and distribution of a wide variety of chemically engineered products, including Lycra spandex yarn and Kevlar, used in bullet-proof vests.
On 29 July 2003, E.I. du Pont de Nemours purchased the shares of DuPont Canada that it didn’t already own in a transaction valued at $1.5 billion, fully integrating the Canadian subsidiary into its global operations. As part of a larger restructuring effort, the company sold INVISTA, its textiles and interiors production lines, to Koch Industries, an American company, in 2004.
In 2016, the Canadian division contributed $730 million in sales to DuPont’s global results. The division’s results rank it in the midfield — between India and Japan — of all of the countries for which DuPont tracks results. Some 3,969 employees work for DuPont Canada. The parent company employs about 46,000 people worldwide.
DuPont Canada’s production operations are concentrated in the eastern part of Canada, with western outposts in Calgary, Alberta, and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The majority of its production is focused on surfaces, coatings, finishes, and liquids. Its products have come to replace metals in a lot of applications and are used for anything from ski bindings to gears to various automotive parts (see Automotive Industry).