Canadian Piano Manufacturers A To Z
Gerhard was a brand, not a piano company. The brand was originally derived from Gerhard Heinztman. Heintzman subcontracted this shortened brand name out to other piano companies to make a cheaper piano that could then be sold by their dealer network. Heintzman reserved Gerhard Heintzman for a more expensive line manufactured in their own factory. Heintzman & Co. was reserved for their top of the line pianos. The Gerhard brand was usually sold with a small decal on the right hand side of the fallboard that said "from Heintzman & Company".
Gourlay Pianos 1904 – 1923 Toronto
Gourlay, Winter & Leeming was founded as a successful retail operation in 1890. The company began manufacturing pianos in Toronto in 1904. Gourlay was among the best of the Canadian piano manufacturers. Their pianos were fine musical instruments that have held up very well over time. As a piano technician I have been favorably impressed with the Gourlay pianos that I have worked on over the years. These pianos are good candidates for restoration.
Grinell Bros. Ltd. 1902 – 1961 Windsor, Ontario
Grinell Bros. was an American piano company that opened a smaller factory in Windsor Ontario. They produced a solid piano that was of average quality. Pianos were manufactured in Windsor until the mid 1940’s. They continued to produce pianos in their US factory until 1961. In addition to the Grinnel Bros. brand they made pianos under the Clayton, Holly, Leonard & Playtona names.
D.W. Karn & Company 1873 – 1924 Woodstock,Ontario
D.W. Karn & Company was originally founded as an organ manufacturer. Although they produced a large number of pianos, the organ business remained their mainstay.
Karn pianos were known for their finely crafted ornate cabinetry. Although the furniture component of these instruments was first class, the musical instrument was of average quality.
The D.W. Karn Company formed a partnership with Morris & Company in 1909 and operated until 1924. Sherlock Manning bought the remaining business and produced pianos under the Karn label until 1961.
Martin – Orme Piano Company 1902 – 1924 Ottawa
Martin Orme was a small manufacturer located in Ottawa. Although not among the top Canadian piano makers, they made a solid upright piano that has stood the test of time. A Martin Orme piano might make a decent practice piano but usually would not be worth the cost of restoration. Typically the steel wound bass strings in these pianos deteriorated more than the average upright piano made with copper wound strings.
Mendelssohn Piano Company / D.M. Best Company 1892 – 1924
The Mendelssohn Piano Company made an average quality piano. In my experience most of the Mendelssohn pianos that I come across are in poor condition. A potential buyer would be well advised to have one of these pianos inspected by a qualified piano technician before purchasing.
D.M. Best Company 1894 - 1980's
David M. Best who was one of Mendelssohn’s two founding partners also founded the D.M. Best Company which manufactured piano strings, hammers and piano parts. They became the largest supplier of parts to Canadian piano manufacturers, tuners, technicians and retailers. It is common to find pianos made in the 1950’s and 60’s with a large “B” stamped on the side of one of the bass hammers. This means the hammers were manufactured by D. M. Best Company.
Morris Piano Company Ltd. 1892 - 1924 Listowel Ontario
(Morris , Field & Rogers - Morris & Karn)
This piano company began 1892 as Morris, Field & Rogers. The partnership was formed to make use of a Listowel furniture factory that had recently closed. The factory had been a major employer in the town and the town fathers came up with the plan to make use of the existing facility to manufacture pianos.
While never reaching the stature of the top Canadian piano makers the Morris Piano Company produced reasonably good quality pianos. They operated as Morris Field & Rogers until 1904 when the partnership was dissolved. The company continued until 1908 as the Morris Piano Company.
After the factory burned to the ground in late 1908 the company was reformed in partnership with D.W. Karn of the D.W. Karn Piano Company. The company continued to make pianos until 1924, under this new partnership.