News

Firestone's long history in Woodstock adds to sense of loss among residents

By Heather Rivers, Woodstock Sentinel-Review

ABOUT FIRESTONE

  • Firestone Tire and Rubber Company was founded in Akron, Ohio, at the turn of the last century by Harvey S. Firestone after he discovered a new way of making carriage tires.
  • By 1936 the company had expanded into Canada, with the company purchasing the property known as Oxford Knitting Mills in Woodstock.
  • Called the Firestone Cotton Mills of Canada, the plant employed about 200 local residents and manufactured cotton into tire cord and other products.
  • During the Second World War many of the positions at Firestone were filled by women.
  • Cotton was phased out in 1975, with greater emphasis on synthetic fibres such as nylon, polyester and rayon.
  • The first plant was closed in 1984 after 48 years of production.
  • Plant 2 was christened in 1965 and was designed to expand Firestone’s tire cord production, using larger, more cost-efficient spools.
  • A $6-million expansion in 1984 integrated Plant 1 employees in Plant 2.
  • Plant 3 was completed in 1967, producing Nylon 6, used in tire yarn, as well as small nylon chips used in injection mouldings.
  • At the time the company said the style and quality of yarn has steadily improved to meet increasingly higher customer demands.
  • Over the year Firestone Fibres and Textiles and its employees have been generous to charities that included Sakura House, the Alzheimer Society of Oxford, the Canadian Mental Health Association Oxford, United Way Oxford and Lymphoma Society.

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OTHER WOODSTOCK PLANT CLOSURES

Bickle/King Seagrave: 1913 to 1985

Harvey Woods: 1906 to 1990

King Equipment: Closed 1993

Fisher Controls: Closed 1997

Thomas Built Buses Inc.: 1963 to 2001

Eureka Planter Company/Kelsey Hayes/Metal Technologies: 1904 to 2005

Timberjack/Deere and Company: 1967 to 2006

E.E. Paquette and Sons: 1923 to 2007