The Dominion Tire plant, today AirBoss Rubber Compounding, is located at 101 Glasgow Street in Kitchener. The original section of the plant was built between 1912 and 1914 by the Canadian Consolidated Rubber Co. It was designed by Albert Kahn Associates, a leading firm in industrial architecture in the first half of the twentieth century.
In 1912 Berlin (Kitchener) officially became a city. That year, civic and business leaders waged an energetic campaign that rallied public support for generous financial inducements that persuaded the Canadian Consolidated Rubber Co. (CCR) to build its new tire plant and machine shops in Berlin instead of Montreal, Hamilton, Guelph, London or Windsor – all contenders for the facility. Aiding the cause was the fact that Talmon Rieder, one of the principals in the Montreal-based CCR, was a Waterloo County native.
Rieder, who was also instrumental in the development of Kitchener-Waterloo’s Westmount neighbourhood, purchased the land for the plant and construction began in August, 1912. At the time, reinforced concrete construction was replacing earlier industrial building methods and materials, and transforming factory working conditions and production capabilities. As with other Albert Kahn factories, the reinforced concrete Dominion plant had an increased load-bearing capacity, ample natural light through very large window openings, improved fireproofing and waterproofing, and a spacious, open floor plan. Light penetration into the building was further aided by its long, narrow footprint.
In the original Dominion Tire factory, the offices were on first floor on either side of the main entrance, and the rest of the floor was devoted to the mill and compound rooms and the carriage tire department. The second floor housed the cutting room, bead department, building room, and press room. The third floor included a warehouse, buffing room, and the wrapping and finishing departments. Tubes were manufactured on the fourth floor, with shipping and the rubber machinery shops there as well.
Daily production of tires at this new plant began in 1914. At that time the factory employed around 500 people. By 1919, 1,825 people worked at Dominion Tire and produced between 1,800 and 2,000 tires a day. The business had expanded so much by this time that new wings were added to both the north and south ends of the building. By 1946, even more space was required and a four-floor addition for shipping docks and warehouse facilities was built as a south-east extension to the main plant; a warehouse behind the tire factory was added in 1957. During the 1960s, that warehouse and the main plant received additions, and another building to house administration offices and other departments was also constructed.
In 1966, the company’s corporate name was changed to Uniroyal, and in the 1980s Uniroyal merged with B.F. Goodrich.
Some material courtesy Karl Kessler; also “History of Uniroyal Ltd. Tire Division” (1978), from Kitchener Public Library MC83, Dominion Rubber.