Brooks Steamer Stock Certificate Stratford-Perth Archives

1926 stock certificate from the Brooks Steam Motor Limited Company. It is part of the Archives’ Collection about Brooks Steam Motors, which consists of original documents and research materials accumulated over the years from a number of different sources. This particular item was purchased in 1999.

Brooks Steamer Stratford-Perth Museum

The City of Stratford sold Oland J. Brooks a former threshing machine factory located at 500 Ontario St. for 55,000 dollars with the City taking back a mortgage of 50,000 dollars in October 1923. Stratford, an important railway junction with a labour pool used to working with steam powered vehicles, was seen as a logical place to build steam cars. By 1925, despite hopes that the new manufacturer would employ hundreds, the factory only had around ninety employees. Former employees later reported that testing the cars as well as working on the assembly line could be counted towards apprenticeship time at the railroad shops. However, some also spent time driving the cars throughout Canada to promote sales of stock in the company.

Brooks steamers were built for just over three years, from 1923 to 1926. Only two to three hundred of the cars, with their fabric body panels and pot boilers wrapped in three to four miles of piano wire to reduce the danger of explosion, were made. One is on display at Stratford Perth Museum. Though other models were proposed, a five passenger sedan, usually black, was actually produced. The price seems to have been higher than comparable models of gasoline powered cars. In a brochure from 1925, the Brooks was listed for $3885.00 all in. The addition of the electric starter, which eliminated the need for risky hand cranks to start gasoline powered cars, also made steam cars less attractive.

Brooks Factory on 500 Ontario St. Stratford-Perth Archives

Three-Day Sale At Brooks Plant To Conclude Tonight

Remaining Stock and Equipment Will All be Disposed of Today: Good Prices Were Realized This Morning

By Tonight, Auctioneer G. I. Graff hopes to have the remaining stock and equipment of the defunct Brooks Steam Motors Company practically all sold. Two days of auctioning have made big inroads on the mass of tools, parts and equipment which remained after a Toronto company had been conducting a private sale at the plant for several weeks. While the crowd was what might be called “a buying crowd” a great many of those present had come with the intention of bidding on some particular article or articles, and satisfactory prices prevailed.

This afternoon the auctioneer will concentrate his attack upon the remaining parts and tools. A large supply of the bolts, washers, small bearings and like stock remains to be sold, but it is believed that large quantities of this stock will be sold to individual buyers.

The sale this morning got under way to a good start when the first article offered, a car jack, brought $1.50. The night watchman’s portable clock with keys, was the next article offered and the final bid was $5.50. The piecework clock which once did duty in the factory, brought $7.50. A 25-cycle transformer, step-down to 50 volts, brought $1.50 and a large test gauge was sold for $1.50. Two hydraulic meters brought $1.00 and a centigrade meter was sold for 25 cents. Fifty cents was the best bid for a vacuum gauge, and a level scope, 100 gallons capacity, brought $1.25.

All the cars and heavy machinery have been sold. Most of the cars and car bodies have been removed from the plant by their owners. The bus and bus chassis are still in the factory but will not be offered by auction, as they were sold for reserve bid.

Mural by Rick Thistle

The Brooks factory became City property once more and was used for storage until another manufacturer bought it. Over the years it was home to Avalon Fabrics, Werlich Industries and Jones Manufacturing. The building was torn down in 2001. The Heart of Stratford murals by Rich Thistle on the Stratford Place Apartments on Ontario St. include a view of the Brooks steamer parked in front of the factory.