A Letter From Vernon E. Webber of Canthem
October 5, 2018
Publication Date: 1964
A recent letter from Vernon E. Webber of Canthem gives the following information: “It dates back to 1909 and 1910 when a Mr. Victor H. Canham who was one of G.B. Ryan’s mainstays in the leading dry goods store of Guelph, with others of my associates in that enterprising business, formed a company. I was one of Mr. Charles Morris’ helpers…in the men’s department of G.B.Ryan. Co.
“Victor went on a business trip to Europe for the store and returned with a German invention of a coat-hanger. Nothing would stop him from starting up in the coat-hanger business. The first factory was in my great-great grandmother Reynold’s home on Essex street, a very aristocratic street of Guelph in her time.
“Neither Canada nor the United States had xxx ever seen a coat hanger. Business warranted a branch to be established in the U.S. and a location was obtained at 1575 Niagara St. Buffalo. Victor said, “Come on, Vern, let’s sell coat-hangers”, and away we went to the U.S. I covered from Bangor, Maine, to New Orleans, Louisiana, showing something new to the merchants over there in places except Buffalo, New York, Chicago, and Detroit. These cities Victor covered. Later a trip was made by me from Montreal to Vancouver, and of course the first from Guelph to Montreal.
“It wasn’t too long before the idea got going and competition set in fast. But it was fun to start it, believe you me.” Victor Canham had another connection with Guelph. Later in his business career, he manufactured adjustable dress forms for tailors, dressmakers and home use. The cast-iron bases for these dress forms were made at Crowe’s Iron Works for many years.