When piano building was a booming industry

Since I play the piano and many of my ancestors played the piano, I read with interest the Montreal Times article about the Craig Piano Company that began manufacturing pianos in Montreal in 1856. I would like to think that someone in my family may have played a Craig piano.

Before pianos were manufactured in Canada in the mid-19th century, people had imported them from Europe. At the time of the 1851 census, there were four piano manufacturers in Upper Canada and 13 in Lower Canada.

Craig Piano Factory, 1910, McCord Museum, MP-0000.816.7

Craig Piano Factory, 1910, McCord Museum, MP-0000.816.7

The Craig Piano Company was established by Jean Baptiste Labelle, a pianist, composer, and conductor,  who was born Burlington, Vermont of Canadian parents, and by James Peter Craig, a cabinetmaker, born in St. Mathias de Rouville, Quebec.

The completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885 made possible the shipment of pianos to the newly settled western provinces. During the first 12 years of  the 20th century, the number of pianos manufactured in Canada had more than doubled.

The Craig Piano Company building still stands at 80 Saint-Viateur and Saint-Dominique, but no pianos have been produced there since the 1940s. In the 1990s, it was converted into lofts.

Merci, Jacques, for suggesting this story.


About Gail Dever

Gail Dever is a Montreal-based genealogist and blogger and a webmaster for the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa.
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