In 1906, Wesley Irving Kemp Sr. (father of Ald. Kemp) brought his family to Stratford from Newark Valley near Syracuse, N.Y. In the following year, he established the W. I. Kemp Co. Stratford council, backed by ratepayers, guaranteed debentures to the extent of $25,000. The Kemps made manure spreaders, Imperial horse-lift seed Drills, land breakers, shop trucks and wheelbarrows. They also made castings of all kinds and did repair work.
Grandfather (J. S.) Kemp took a great deal of pride in his invention of the Kemp Manure Spreader and continued to make improvements. The plant was on Ontario Street, but the sales rooms were on Brunswick Street, near the Commercial Hotel.
His first spreader was made for his own farm in Magog, Que. , and was considered the first practical spreader ever built. The Kemp factory went out of business in about 1914, and the building was assigned to the city. It was used as a barracks during the First World War and became known as Fort Kemp. After the factory closed, W. I. Kemp Sr., known in the family as Father Kemp, became manager of the Majestic Theatre on Downie Street.