DC Taylor: Owen Sound Entrepreneur was not only progressive businessman, he was also an important contributor to the social and cultural fabric of his community.
Strolling through the malls and down main street, the windows of the commercial establishments call out to passersby. Bright and colourful signs proclaim huge discounts and sale prices. Mannequins dressed in the latest fashions tempt shoppers. There is nothing unusual about this circumstance. Store windows have always been a means of advertising the goods and services offered by a commercial establishment. However, more than a century ago, an innovative Owen Sound entrepreneur tried something different.
Perhaps pedestrians thought it was an April Fools joke, after all it was April 1! The year was 1895, and it wasn't a prank — it was a unique attempt to bring attention to a new business on Owen Sound's main street.
David Creighton Taylor and his partner Ed Grier had opened a jewellery store. Taylor, a watchmaker, set up his work station in the window of his new store. A century ago, mass-produced watches were virtually an unheard of commodity and watches were not sent off to the big city to be repaired. Instead, local artisans such as Taylor made and repaired watches on an individual basis in their store. Making and repairing watches in the store window allowed the world, at least Owen Sound's part of the world, to view the intricacies of watchmaking and repairs.
Family enterprises have always been a large part of Owen Sound's economic history. Names like Harrison, Kennedy and Stephens dot the landscape of this community s growth and development. David Creighton Taylor was a part of this tradition. His father, Henry owned a tailor shop which was one of Owen Sound's first commercial establishments. His maternal uncle, David Creighton, was editor of the Owen Sound Times.
David decided to continue the family tradition of being involved in commercial enterprise. However, he chose to branch out into a new field, watchmaking. After two years of partnership with Grier, Taylor struck out on his own. In 1910, he formed a new partnership with the man he had apprenticed with, J.J. Douglas. This enterprise remained until 1928, when both men decided to part company. Their reason for dissolution was that each had a son ready to enter business.
Unfortunately, 17 years after bringing his son Creighton into the business, tragedy struck. The younger Taylor was lost in a boating accident on Owen Sound bay in late October 1945. For the next six years, David Taylor would manage the business alone until his grandson and namesake, David could continue the business in the tradition of his father and grandfather.
D. C. Taylor was also deeply involved in the life of his home town. He loved music. He opened his store after hours for friends who also enjoyed music. Out of these lively jam sessions, a group called the “Bon Tons” was formed. Wearing striped suits and straw hats, the "Bon Tons" were a popular attraction at social engagements in the area.
He was also involved in baseball. Many early documents about the Owen Sound Clippers baseball team bear his name and picture.
Today, the Taylor family is still involved in the business started by their great grandfather more than a century ago. However, the tradition of making and repairing watches in the window of the store has faded with time.
I wonder what the reaction would be if some enterprising entrepreneur decided to emulate David Creighton Taylor and set up his or her repair shop in the window of their establishment.
A version of this article originally appeared in my Local History column in the Owen Sound Sun Times in October 1998.
12-year-old Walks to Owen Sound in 1851 from the journal of a teenage boy's experience travelling with his brother in the untamed Upper Canadian wilderness.
In the 1920s, Owen Sound got New Elevators. After losing the CPR elevators to fire, the community fought hard to get new elevators for their harbour and improve the community's economy.
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The 1944-1945 Grey North By-Election would surprise Prime Minister King and all of Canada as the Grey North electorate refused to be dictated to by Ottawas political elites.
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1960s: Owen Sound's Education Expansion: 1960s Owen Sound was a period of growth and one result of this was a need for the expansion of education services for the growing population.
1960s Owen Sound marked a period of change and new growth to the commercial and industrial life that would impact the citizens of Owen Sound and change the patterns of doing business.
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Brooke: A brief history of an important, yet distinctly different, community that became a key element in Owen Sound's development as a important Georgian Bay port city.
Charles Rankin, I Presume: October 7, 1840 marked the meeting of Land Agent John Telfer and surveyor Charles Rankin on the banks of the Sydenham River and the founding of Owen Sound.
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Black History: Emancipation Day celebrates the abolition of slavery and it continues to be an annual celebration in many locations that were in some way, or another touched by the impact of slavery.
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Billy Bishop: Owen Sound Hero earned national and international fame as a World War One Fighter pilot and used his high profile to aid in the World War Two effort.
John Harrison - A Tough Owen Sound Pioneer whose grit and determination created a prosperous life for himself and his family in a new community.
William Harrison, The Source of John Harrison's Grit: details the influence of John's father, William Harrison, on John and his siblings.
John Muir, the legendary naturalist, who promoted the idea of protected nature spaces, spent time in Ontario and I went to help find evidence of his stay in the Owen Sound area.
Black Clawson Kennedy: An Iconic Owen Sound Industry provided income for area residents and economic development for the community for almost 150 years.
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Canada' First Pharmacy Chain Store: The Owen Sound-based drug store chain of Parker and Cattle is credited with being the first pharmacy chain store enterprise in Canada.
DC Taylor: Owen Sound Entrepreneur was not only progressive businessman, he was also an important contributor to the social and cultural fabric of his community.
Jimmy Grant was a high wire walker who was a fearless athlete who faced all challenges without a worry of the possible fatal consequences of his daredevil actions.
Newspapers hold a special place in the history of any community, and the Owen Sound Sun Times, and its predecessors, beginning with the Comet, are no exception.
Owen Sound Businesses: 1920s were owned and operated by families whose deep roots in the community and their efforts had created the backbone of the community and brought success to the port city.
Owen Sound's centennial celebrations in 1957 brought the community together for events such big name entertainers, sports competitions, street dances and much more in honour of the community's past and projecting the city's bright future.
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First Cars in Owen Sound could be purchased for less than $500.00!
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Owen Sound's Police Force - The Big Four were legendary in their maintaining the peace efforts in a rowdy Great Lakes port in the early 1900s.
Hillcrest School Memories a look back at my public school days when Owen Sound's Hillcrest Public School celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1998.
News of War: The 1940s was supposed to provide the world with a respite after the hardship of the 1930s depression. However World War Two brought more adversity.
Owen Sound 1840 Onward! From a clearing in the Georgian Bay wilderness to a booming port city the 1800s were a time of growth and prosperity.
Owen Sound's First Newspaper: The Comet came into existence a mere 10 years after the first settlers braved the wilderness that would become the Grey and Bruce region.
Owen Sound's First Town Council was created to develop the necessary infrastructure for a pioneer community to grow and prosper.
Owen Sound Tavern Bylaw (1857) tried to tackle the issue of monitoring taverns in the Upper Canadian pioneer wilderness.
Owen Sound's 1857 Bylaw: Dog Control illustrated how a pioneer town controlled dogs in the community, sometimes even using harsh measures.
Owen Sound CPR Strike in 1908 immobilized harbour activities in that important Georgian Bay port, the CPR's eastern Great Lakes terminus.
Owen Sound CPR Link began with a bang, suffered a setback, and ended with a whimper.
Owen Sound Entrepreneurs: S.J. Parker & Richard Notter used their wealth and their friendships to built many community-oriented businesses in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Owen Sound 1920 Stories provide an interesting look at the community as it was about to become a city.
Owen Sound 1920s: Optimism abounded in the port city as a new decade began, The town was becoming a city and the economic outlook seemed bright.
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Owen Sound Stories: On the Attack! Throughout the history of the community, citizens were not afraid to go on the attack to promote the needs of their town.
Owen Sound Street Names honour the individuals who made a contribution to Owen Sound's development. Today the streets are numbered to help visitors find their way.
O.S.C.V.I.: the History of an Owen Sound High School details from the very beginning the establishment of a high school in the community.
Pioneer Story of a Child in 1846 Owen Sound details life in the last wilderness in Upper Canada in the 1840s.
Pioneer Story of a Child in 1846 (Part 2) continues the memories of Elizabeth Byth as she encountered life in the Upper Canada wilderness that became Owen Sound.
Pioneer Theatre was a big hit in Owen Sound and across southern Ontario, where Vaudevillians like Perth Ontario's Marx Brothers played to full houses.
U.S. President Taft Visited Owen Sound Ontario, a Georgian Bay port in a momentous winter of events in 1920 as Owen Sound celebrated its incorporation as a city.
Ship arrivals meant full shelves in stores and larders as pioneers and shopkeepers eagerly awaited goods to fill their depleted necessities
Some Interesting 20th Century Events in Owen Sound: One, in particular featured a mayor acting to avert a major labour-related confrontation.
Sunday Work Laws in the 19th Century in Owen Sound and Grey County region were very strict, with no exceptions allowed.
The 1940's: An Eventful Decade in Owen Sound and Grey County: A war; a surprising political event; sports celebrations and much more.
Wawanekas: Fastball pioneers who were a legendary women's fastball team from Owen Sound who dominated their sport for a decade or more.
Political Corruption in 1852 Owen Sound? Does it seem possible that this could happen in a pioneer community on the Georgian Bay shores? Read on, and decide.
Emily Pankhurst Visits Owen Sound. The well-known suffragette visited Owen Sound and spoke not only about suffrage, but the bolshevik threat.
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A pioneer home was very utilitarian. It served the pioneer family's essential needs, while the work of clearing the land and planting crops took priority.
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CPR Grain Elevator Fire in 1911 in Owen Sound harbour would have a profound impact on that Georgian Bay community.
Reverend Ryerson Visits Owen Sound and despite a great reception from the citizens of the community, he posts a negative newspaper story of the community.
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Fenians: A Threat: The threat of an attack by Fenians was very real in Upper Canada in the 1860s and this was especially true in port communities like Owen Sound.
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Pioneer industry: William Kennedy William Kennedy's efforts to build an important foundry and machine shop on the banks of Owen Sound's harbour.
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Owen Sound Ontario: A Unique Perspective: Book provides a unique and humorous perspective about this Georgian Bay port and hockey hotbed.
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Owen Sound, located on beautiful Georgian Bay offers a wide variety of entertainment and shopping delights for visitors of all ages. The city and its surrounding area has a rich history, parks and other natural areas for bird watchers, hikers, cross country skiers, etc.