Thomas family. Family of organ and piano builders; also the trade name of a line of organs. John Morgan Thomas (b 1805?, d Toronto 2 Mar 1875) began building organs in Montreal in 1832 and established a partnership in Toronto with Alexander Smith in 1839. In 1840 the partners obtained a patent for a metallic frame around the tuning pegs of a piano, designed to take pressure off the case. In 1844 the headquarters were located on King St West, and it was here that Thomas built the first organs to be placed in St Michael's Cathedral and Holy Trinity Church. By 1856 the company was known as John Thomas & Son. In fact, Thomas had five sons active in the trade.
Charles L. Thomas, in partnership with a Mr Drew, established the Western Pianoforte Manufactory of Canada, active ca 1856-ca 1893 in Hamilton, Ont, and known at times as C.L. Thomas & Co. In 1870 Western Pianoforte was producing some 70 pianos a year. A C.L. Thomas square piano may be seen at the Wellington County Museum, Elora, Ont.
John J. Thomas served his brother Charles' firm as manager ca 1878-84 and was supervisor of the piano department at Bell Piano and Organ in the 1920s.
Edward G. Thomas founded the Thomas Organ Co in 1875 in Woodstock, Ont. The company was managed later, however, by James Dunlop, who acquired a part interest in 1891 (on Thomas' death) and full interest in 1895 (when the firm became the Thomas Organ and Piano Co; incorporation followed in 1919). A prosperous export trade with Britain was begun in 1893, and orders for organs came later from Australia, New Zealand, Holland, and Germany. At the turn of the century the firm produced an estimated 150 reed organs and 1000 piano stools and benches a month. In 1916 it began to manufacture record cabinets. In the 1920s it introduced the Thomas Orchestral and Symphony models of reed organ. Late in the decade the firm enjoyed a slight surge in the sales of its portable organs. By the mid-1940s, however, when James Dunlop's son, John G., was president, it had turned to furniture building, and later it became a subsidiary of the Whirlpool Company of the USA and relinquished the Thomas name.
Of John Morgan Thomas' other sons, Thomas L. Thomas worked for R.S. Williams & Co and Frank J. Thomas was a piano builder.