We’ve pulled up a few (going on 100 years) old flooring with “|||||||| Seaman Kent |||||||||” scrolled on the pieces. One job had newspaper from the mid-20’s under the floor.
We found this mention online, early in our curiosity:
“From 1912 to 1918 he had charge of the business in the United States of the Seaman Kent Co., Ltd., of Toronto, Canada. In 1914 Mr. DeWitt returned to Traverse City where he became associated with the W. E. Williams Co., at the same time carrying on his jobbing business and representing Seaman Kent.”
Source: Rootsweb entry, http://www.rootsweb.com/~wioconto/loggingholt76.htm
Since we hadn’t yet seen physical proof of their existence after the market crash, we we’re guessing their business was lost during the Great Depression. In searching for Seaman Kent once again, we found the entire story:
“”Hardwood flooring as we know it today originated in the United States around the turn of the century. About that same time, two enterprising men in Ontario, William Seaman and Frank Kent, saw the potential for this popular new product in Canada. In 1901 they formed the Seaman-Kent Company and became the first company in the British Empire to manufacture hardwood flooring.
“The company was located in Meaford…
“The two men formed an ideal business partnership. They were the exact opposites in temperament. Seaman was a cautious, conservative man while his partner was a flamboyant extrovert. Together they built up a company that within a few years was shipping “Beaver Brand” hardwood flooring across Canada, to the United States, and the United Kingdom.
“By 1920 they had manufacturing facilities and warehouses from Quebec City to Edmonton with a head office in Toronto. The principal manufacturing plant however remained at its birthplace, in Meaford.
“With the stock-market crash and Great Depression of the 1930s, the Seaman-Kent Company was over-extended. One by one their plants and warehouses were closed, auctioned off, or left idle. By 1931, the sole activity of the company was from the Meaford plant. Finally it closed it’s doors that same year.
“In 1937… F. Stanley Knight, a local woodworker, acquired the abandoned plant…
“He (Stanley) purchased the “Beaver Brand” name, refurbished the plant….”
Source: Found via Yahoo! Answers, stanleyknight.ca/Historical.htm
If by chance you know more about “Seaman Kent,” perhaps you own photos of the founders (family tree?), we’d be interested in seeing what you have! We’d love to have pictures of William Seaman and Frank Kent on this page!
Reader Q: When we took up some floor at a house that we purchased, underneath was the “Seaman-Kent” stamp on the back, but not Meaford address, it was West Lorne, Ontario. This town was not mentioned in the history of the flooring. Any comment would be appreciated.
A: It’s my understanding that Seaman Kent had numerous factories, with their original plant being in Meaford. In the late 1800’s the Knight family bought a canning factory in Meaford to manufacture doors and windows. They also did some floor manufacturing as contractors for Seaman Kent. Into the mid 30’s they fell to the great depression and their factory remained closed. The Knight family, meanwhile, (or should I say the sons, who ran the business after their father died) started to disagree how the business should be run. Stanley Knight went up the road and purchased the Seaman Kent building and the Beaver Brand hardwood name. Stanley Knight Ltd. is still in operation there today. If there is more information to be gleaned, it would probably be from Ron Knight, who’s contact data is at their web site. If you learn of any other facts I would appreciate the history.
Letter from visitor: Concerning “Seaman Kent”. I have a very old building (for this area, Balderson, near Perth ON) that had it’s floor replaced in 1893. The maple hardwood is rubber stamped “Seaman Kent” also stamped “New Perth Station”. The length of each piece is stamped on and the grade of the wood is also stamped on “second grade”. Thought this might add to your history concerning Seaman Kent. Again this floor was installed in 1893 (1800 square feet of floor, former Community hall the 2 room school house, then my place of business for 30 years and now my residence).
A: Thank you for that bit of history. I was not aware Seaman-Kent were manufacturing before the early 1900’s. I’ve forwarded your comments to Stanley Knight Ltd. who bought the Seaman-Kent factory in Meaford in the 1930’s and they still mill flooring from there.