REIMAGINING A HISTORIC SPACE FOR A NEW AGE
The history of Westinghouse HQ begins with George Westinghouse himself. A visionary leader, scientist and inventor, Westinghouse founded the Westinghouse Air Brake Company in 1869, at the age of 23, which manufactured brakes for the railroad. This was the beginning of 60 companies that he founded. During his career, he was granted 361 patents and employed 50,000 employees worldwide.
Having completed the Niagara Falls Electric generation project, George Westinghouse founded a Canadian branch of the company in 1897. The Hamilton branch was the first site of the company outside of the United States and in those first years 80 workers were employed and supplied 9000 airbrake sets a year to the expansion of the Canadian railroad.
The first manufacturing site of the Hamilton Westinghouse Electric Company was located on Princess street and was 3.5 acres. Over the years the company expanded with additional buildings built over 18 acres. The second structure that was built was a small office known as the Works Office, established to house General Manager and treasurer, Paul Judson Myler and a handful of other administrative employees.
Paul Judson Myler, originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, started working for George Westinghouse when he was only 17 years old. Myler was sent to Canada to purchase the Hamilton property and establish the branch. Shortly after relocating to Canada, he became a permanent resident and married a local Hamiltonian woman, Lily Maude Lottridge. Myler became the president in 1917 and served on the Board until his retirement in 1944. It’s only fitting that Myler would have one of the streets surrounding the building named after him in 1910.
On July 9, 1903 the Hamilton branch was incorporated and the Canadian Westinghouse Company Limited was established. Within the first 10 years of being incorporated, the growth and success of the Canadian Westinghouse Company required expansion across Canada with offices opening in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Winnipeg. By 1957 there were 13 manufacturing locations, 9 service shops and 18 sales offices across Canada. At its peak in 1955, Westinghouse employed 11,000 people in Hamilton.
By 1917, the company had grown by leaps and bounds, and the executives decided to build a new head office. This beautiful five-storey office building was built across the street from the factory and included a bridge for easy movement between the office and the manufacturing buildings. In 1928 two additional floors were added to the head office.
When Paul J. Myler became the president of the Canadian Westinghouse Company he continued George Westinghouse’s commitment to advocate for the rights and quality of life of the workers. Company picnic’s were a tradition since 1901 and company sponsored sports teams encouraged team building and cooperation. In 1920, Myler introduced life insurance plans for every employee and company funded pension plans. The Canadian Westinghouse Company also cared about the professional development of their employees and an education assistance program was started 1924. During the years of the Great Depression, measures were put into place to save as many people from losing their jobs as possible. Pay cuts were instituted and work was spread out into shorter shifts and shared among employees. To this day, we continue to hear first hand accounts of the the quality of the Westinghouse's management and the positive, enjoyable work environment that resulted.