It was 105 years ago this week (August 17) that Canadian entrepreneur Gordon McGregor signed an agreement with Henry Ford and invested $125,000 to establish the Ford Motor Company of Canada at the Walkerville Wagon Works in Windsor, Ontario. Under the agreement, the company could make vehicles for all countries of the British Empire except England.
Before automobiles, Gordon McGregor was a partner with his father, William McGregor, President of the Walkerville Wagon Company Limited, Walkerville, Ontario (now Windsor, Ontario). Gordon took over the management of the company in 1901 and, on the death of his father in 1903, he assumed the Presidency of the company.
At a meeting with his brothers, Walter and Donald, in January 1904, Gordon said, “There are men in Detroit who say every farmer will soon be using an automobile. I don’t see why we cannot build them here in the wagon factory.” Shortly thereafter he went to his banker, John Curry, and discussed his ideas. Together they visited existing manufacturers of automobiles in the Detroit area, including Oldsmobile, Cadillac and Ford. Buick was just getting started. General Motors was four years in the future as was R. S. McLaughlin in Canada.
McGregor was most impressed with Henry Ford and the feeling was reciprocated for it resulted in McGregor obtaining a personal agreement which allowed him to form and finance a company to manufacture and sell Ford products in Canada.
Additionally, he obtained the right to sell Ford products in the then existing British Empire, exclusive of the British Isles. This farsightedness on the part of McGregor has resulted in Ford of Canada having wholly owned subsidiaries in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. In exchange for this, McGregor agreed to give 51% of the stock of Ford of Canada to the shareholders of Ford U.S.A.
A Provincial Charter was issued on August 17, 1904. On August 29, 1904 the first shareholders’ meeting was held to elect officers and set policy. John S. Gray, President, Ford Motor Company, Detroit, was elected president of the Canadian company, Henry Ford, Vice President, and John Curry, Treasurer.