The World’s Columbian Exposition was held in Chicago from May 1 to October 1, 1893, and was on an entirely more ambitious scale than Jamaica. J. Fleury’s Sons participated, along with several Ontario and Quebec rivals such as Massey-Harris of Toronto, and the Cockshutt and Deering companies of Brantford. In September, half-way through the Exposition, the Aurora Banner reported that J. Fleury’s Sons had already generated considerable interest and sales: “As a result of their exhibiting at the Chicago World’s Fair, the Messrs. J. Fleury’s Sons, have had enquiries in reference to their goods from several places in the United States, and also from South America as well as from various places in our own country. They have sold goods to go to places in New York and in Missouri. Their works have been running full time right along, and with more than their usual number of men. They have just shipped cars of goods to Winnipeg and Montreal, and are now loading a car to an eastern Ontario point, and are to ship another car to British Columbia on Oct 1st” (Aurora Banner, September 29, 1893).
In March 1894, prize winners were announced – J. Fleury’s Sons was awarded a medal and a diploma for their exhibit of plows at the World’s Fair!
Surprisingly, it took more than two years before the United States distributed the medals won in Chicago.
Finally, in July 1896, the Aurora Banner announced that: “The medal and diploma won by Messrs. J. Fleury’s Sons at the World’s Fair, Chicago, arrived here last Saturday. The long delay in issuing the diplomas is said to have been caused by a difficulty in securing a suitable parchment.”
The Pennsylvania Pavilion in the Agriculture Hall, Aurora Museum & Archives (80.16.12)
Medal awarded to J. Fleury’s Sons
Western side of the Manufacturers Building,Aurora Museum & Archives (80.16.12)
The unprecedented volume of electric lights showcased at the Columbian Exposition earned Chicago the title of the “White City.” This image shows the Administration Building illuminated at night.
Aurora Museum & Archives (80.16.12).
UNSUCCESSFUL CANADIAN AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENTS COMPANIES greeted the medal announcement at the close of the Columbian Exposition with a storm of protest. Complaints poured in to the Dominion. Executive Director at Chicago, J.S. Larke, from the Massey-Harris Company of Toronto, Sawyer-Massey of Hamilton, the Cockshutt Plow Company of Brantford, John Grout of the Grimsby Agricultural Works and others.
In November, 1893, John Grout complained that his exhibit didn’t get any notice “especially when in our case, it was almost exactly similar to another – Verity Plow Exhibit – to which a medal was awarded.” In another letter, he concluded:
“I certainly think I am as much entitled to a medal as the Fleury.”
Prompted by these protests, the Minister of Justice, Sir John Thompson approved funds to pay for an appeal in the
Washington D.C. courts. After an eight-day hearing in January 1894, the court decided it could not overturn the decision of the Chicago Exposition’s Awards Committee, and no recognition was granted to the unsuccessful Canadian manufacturers.
It was alleged that one of the American judges, himself a member of the Awards Committee, had falsified the reports of the individual judges who assessed the company displays.
After the failure of the court appeal, the Dominion government’s solution was to publish a special Appendix from the
Executive Commissioner in Chicago to accompany the Report of the Minister of Agriculture for 1893. The report provided full detail of the scandal that had virtually defrauded a number of Canadian farm implements companies of the medals they should have received at the Columbian Exposition. The intent was to ease the concerns of unsuccessful Canadian firms that the lack of a medal would affect their sales in overseas markets.
The Massey-Harris Company was quick to distribute the report to its overseas clients. The Cockshutt Plow Company writing to J.S. Larke in May 1894, concluded: “We are of the opinion that those who did receive awards will not secure any great benefit from them when it becomes known how the Canadian firms were used.”
On The Worlds Stage : The Jamaica International Exhibition
On The Worlds Stage : L’Exposition Universelle Internationale de Paris
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