Toronto Car Factory
McLean & Wright
|First class coaches||24|
|Second class coaches||17|
|Baggage & PO||14|
|Total passenger cars||64|
|Flat cars & log cars||501|
|Total freight cars||801|
Nevertheless, the partnership of McLean, Wright & Company ended shortly after McLean’s return and the factory was sold to Henry P. Wright and John B. Sutherland. Sutherland was a Scottish born carpenter who had emigrated to the United States, where he was involved in several car building operations. Little is known of Wright’s background, nor is it known whether he was related to Thomas Wright, the previous owner.
The new partners were in for a shock. Car orders simply did not materialize, and soon they were advertising for general lumber dressing, millwork and smithing. Wright left the company in 1856, and Duncan McLean returned to become Sutherland’s partner. The Toronto car factory now became Sutherland & McLean, with Sutherland being the senior partner.
And now orders began coming in, and the factory, which had been down to employment of only 50 was soon advertising for more workers. But on 16 May 1857 it all came to an end: fire reduced the factory to ashes. The owners suffered an uninsured loss of $50 to $60,000, and the workers lost all their tools.
John Sutherland returned to the United States, where he continued in the railway business. Duncan McLean apparently attempted to fulfill the outstanding orders, possibly using what was left of the car factory. But circumstances were against him, as the financial panic that swept the United States in 1857 affected Canada as well. The details are unknown, but by 1861 Duncan McLean was completely out of the car building industry and doing general carpentry.
In the September 1998 issue of Carter Narrow Gauge Chronicles—newsletter of the SPCRR (see our LINKS page)—Randy Hees tells the story of Northern California car builder D. McLean & Co. McLean’s business is listed in only a single issue of the San Francisco Business Directory. McLean’s advertisement looks something like this:
San Francisco R. R. Car
|“The first reference I have found to McLean is for his brother, John, who is working as a carriage trimmer, in the 1863/64 [city] directory. Duncan appears the following year listed as a Forman at Henry Casebolt’s car works ... while John was a conductor on the Central Railroad. After three years with Casebolt, in 1867, Duncan McLean forms his own company. The following year, Duncan and his company are missing, and John is back at work as a conductor, this time for the North Beach and Mission Railroad.”|
Could this be the same Duncan McLean?
Ashdown, Dana William. Iron & Steam; A History of the Locomotive and Railway Car Builders of Toronto. Toronto, ON: Robin Brass Studio, 1999.
11 April 2006