Remembering a long-gone company

It’s been 30 years since my first job as a Controller at Canadian Glass Industries Limited, which was owned by Pilkington Glass Industries Limited. After the latter’s takeover by Ford Motor Company, it was subsequently renamed as Ford Glass Limited. Today, neither company is in business. The Ford Glass assets were transferred to AGC, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi, but the operation I knew has long since gone.

Canadian Glass, unlike its immediate parent, was a great place to work at, with people throughout that were a pleasure to deal with. It may have had to do with the glass business itself, as all the principal players had an element of transparency about them.

I worked for Alf Thomas, who was the Vice-President, Finance at Canadian Glass (previously known as Glaverbel Industries Inc before its acquisition by PGIL in 1979). I can describe him as probably the best person I have ever worked for.[1] Sadly, I have learnt that he passed away in 1999. He is probably better known by the company he kept: he was the son-in-law of Donald Coxeter, the famous mathematician, and was mentioned rather obliquely in the latter’s biography (hagiography?) that was published several years ago.

The following were the key players at the various divisions across Canada:

Division General Manager Controller
Charlebois (Montreal) Jean-Pierre Ross Jacques Bellemare, CA
Solarpane (Dorval) Hubert Fischer
Ontario Distribution (Concord) Tom O’Riordan Harry Coleman, RIA
Ontario Contracts (Concord) Gord Henry Ford Dunlop, RIA[2]
Manitoba (Saint Boniface) Frank Davey Bill Levy [3]
Saskatchewan (Regina, Saskatoon, Yorkton) Bill Pockiak Bob Buchanan, RIA
Alberta (Edmonton) John Unsted Len Hryciw, RIA[4]
BC (New Westminster) Bill Youde[5] Valerie Fricker (Bookkeeper)

I have not heard from any of the others in a very long time, but still wonder what happened to them all.

1. Alfred D. Thomas, CA, alumnus of Thorne, Gunn, Helliwell and Christenson (one of KPMG’s predecessors), VP Finance at Glaverbel from c. 1965. Half-Welsh, half-Afrikaner, born in South Africa, his life probably merits a book on its own. He attempted to write a novel in the 1980s called The Throwback, and the manuscript certainly reflected his style of storytelling, but I don’t believe it was ever published.

2. When he was born, Ford cars in Canada were sold with Dunlop tires. Sadly, within months of his birth, Ford switched over to Firestone.

3. Rather brutally treated during the Ford Glass consolidation in the early 1980s. His obituary says that he retired in 1983, which would have made him only 55 years old. He never found any employment after, except as a volunteer driver for charity work.

4. Name is of Ukrainian origin, anglicized as “HER-shaw”, but more properly pronounced as “HREE-syew”.

5. “e” is silent; pronounced in the same manner as “loud”.


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