Canadian private label curiosity..

GOT

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I recently acquired this watch on eBay. It's a private label entitled DT Ferguson, Rat Portage, which is a town in Northwest Ontario now known as Kenora. Ferguson was the town jeweller in Rat Portage in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Has anyone seen a watch with two hour hands, supposedly used to keep track of time in two time zones? Rat Portage was an important CP Railway stop between Thunder Bay, Ontario (then Fort William) and Winnipeg, Manitoba, so it's possibly connected to the railroad somehow. The dates inside the watch would place it in the early 1900's. I'm also curious about the movement maker; the seller claimed it's an Omega, based on good info from reliable sources (possibly NAWCC?); there are no visible clues such as a name or logo. Photos attached (I hope!)
http://photobucket.com/GOT09_dtferguson
 

RON in PA

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Does not look very Omega to me. Also is a 15 jewel watch without a micro adjustable regulator and not marked for adjustments, not up to RR standards.
 

Larry Treiman

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"Rat Portage!" What a great name....and what fun it would be to be able to say you're from Rat Portage. Kenora? No fun at all.

As for the watch, yes, it was made by Omega. It has the typical Regina plate configuration. Regina was a brand name used by Omega on a second-tier line of watches for sale in Canada. A jeweler-watch inspector from Winnipeg explained to me over 35 years ago that the sale of watches with the Omega brand was limited to franchised Omega retailers. For other sellers they offered they offered their products in Canada under the second-tier brands such as Regina, often with private labels. Gee, I wonder if they would have even considered putting Rat Portage on a watch branded Omega?

As Ron said, your watch wasn't up to Canadian railroad standards....not even close. It is what was sometimes called commercial grade. Maybe we could even say "Rat Portage" grade (sorry, I couldn't resist). If I ever get around to compiling a list of favorite town names, that one will have a place of honor, probably near "Mary's Igloo, Alaska" (pop. 5, seasonal pop. 15).

Larry Treiman
 
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GOT

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Haha! Too true! Apparently a major flour company insisted the town change its name because it didn't want the word 'rat' on its flour bags! On the other hand, the Rat Portage Thistles won the Stanley Cup in 1907 (the Holy Grail of hockey, when it was truly a sport played by enthusiastic amateurs). Didn't win anything as the Kenora Thistles. I was aware that the watch doesn't meet RR grade requirements - possibly ordered by some self-important business man who couldn't do the math in his head (Hmmm...if it's 9 o'clock in Rat Portage, and Toronto is one hour ahead...where's my pencil and paper?)
 

doug sinclair

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Here is the same movement as your Ferguson, but marked Regina, both on the movement and the dial. It IS Omega. This serial number indicates a later production date it seems, and the "snailing" on the plates is different. The double hour hand may or may not be original to the watch. Watchmakers of the era often carried aftermarket hands such as yours, and would fit them at customer request. While this one of yours (or mine for that matter) wouldn't be railroad approved, I have seen private label Fergusons (particularly Hamilton) which were of railroad approved grade.
 

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GOT

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Thanks Doug! That's a convincing image! By 'private label Fergusons' do you mean watches labelled by D.T. Ferguson the jeweller of Rat Portage, Ontario? I'd be interested in seeing if there were more of them in Canada, and who 'L. Wilson' was - owner of the watch or perhaps the watchmaker who tuned it up, as one date is crossed out and another written above it. As a much younger man I spent some time in and around Kenora (Rat Portage) and the beautiful Lake of the Woods country, so the watch has some historical value to me, regardless of its grade.
 

doug sinclair

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Ferguson (it appears) was a retail jeweller, but also a railroad watch inspector, catering to the needs of local railroaders. I can safely say this as I know of several RR grade watches with his name on the dial. A friend of mine has (as I recall) several private label Fergusons of railroad grade, all of which are (again, as I recall) Hamilton 18-size models. And, yes, private label means a watch made by a recognized watch manufacturer which is marked on dial or movement (or both in the instance of your watch). with the name of a retailer, watch inspector, distributor, wholesaler, or even a private individual. This all is NOT to be confused with a "Ferguson" dial which is a total different subject. Who L. Wilson was? Anybody's guess. In light of the fact the watch seems to have been sold at Rat Portage, and in light of the fact the marks indicate Wilson lived in Rat Portage, he could have been the original owner. But who knows? Maybe a check with a city directory from that era might give a clue as to who Wilson was, and what he did. I doubt he was a railroader.
 

GOT

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Thanks again for the info Doug - my watch is a 16 size and I agree, I doubt that the owner was a railroader, especially if Ferguson also made or serviced RR grade watches. Given the size of Rat Portage in the early 1900's (Kenora today is still a fairly small town), I'm surprised to hear that there are other D.T. Ferguson watches around. I'm looking at some archived newspapers on the Town of Kenora website and may find out more through that. Ferguson Jewellers has ads in most of the papers I've looked at, no mention of L Wilson yet, but I've just begun scanning the front pages at this point.
 

Buchaneer

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Rat Portage was originally a fur trading outpost on the Hudson's Bay Company in 1861, and was renamed Kenora in 1906. The name Kenora came from the first two letters of Kewatin the district it was located before it became part of Ontario, and the first two letters of Northern, and the first two letters of Rat Portage. It is still at this date an important provisional point on the Canadian Pacific Railway's mainline. The first Canadian ocean to ocean train travel through the community in 1886.

DT Ferguson was a jeweler on Main Street in Rat Portage in the Victorian age, he was joined in the business by his brother William Ferguson.

William Ferguson, a jeweler of Rat Portage, was born in Collingwood, Ontario, June 4, 1867, and in both the lineal and collateral line is a Scotch docent. his parents were John and Elizabeth (Binning) Ferguson, both made of this of Scotland. They became early resident of Collingwood, where the father engaged in the mailing business until his death. His mother still survives and is yet a resident of Collingwood.

At the usual age William Ferguson entered the public school's of that place and pass through successive grades until he completed his education in the high school. Throughout his entire business career he has been connected with the jewelry trade, being first employed in that line by C.W. Colman of Toronto, with who he remained for two years. He afterward worked at the business in different places until 1891, when he came to Rat Portage and for seven years was in the employ of his brother DT Ferguson. At the end of that time he established business on his own account and now carries a fine line of jewelry of all grades in order to meet the general trade. His patronage has constantly grown, as he has put forth earnest effort to please his patrons, who have recognized also his unfaltering adherence to a high standard of commercial affects,

In 1900 Mr. William Ferguson was married to Miss May Arnold of Rat Portage, and they have two children, Clarence and Stewart. Mr. Ferguson belongs to the Ancient Order of United Workmen and to the Presbyterian Church, while in politics he is independent, caring nothing for political preferment for himself, as he has desired rather to give undivided attention to the business in which he is making substantial progress.

(From the history of Ontario)

Here are some pictures of my Hamilton WA Ferguson private-label pocket watches a Grade 926 marked Ferguson's Special, and a Grade 940 marked WA Ferguson Jeweler, Kenora:

65.jpg 66.jpg 67.jpg 68.jpg
 

Kent

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Nice watches Larry!

Would you please share the serial number on the No. 940?
 

Buchaneer

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Hello Kent:

The Ferguson's Special No. 926 has serial number 470281 and was bought from Hamilton by the Montréal Watch Case Company on June 19, 1905. The Hamilton Grade 940 has serial number 913361

Larry
 

laketime

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Very cool
I spend a fair amount of time in and around the Kenora area and have quite a few friends there, I will ask if they have any I deas who L. Wilson may have been. I know that their is some Wilsons that own a resort in the area, maybe it is someone from their family.

F.Y.I
The town changed its name from Rat Portage to Kenora in 1905 and the Kenora Thistles went on to beat the Montreal Wanderers 4-2 and 8-6 in January 1907 to win the Stanley Cup.

Laketime
 

GOT

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Beautiful watches Buccaneer! Definitely a few steps up from my DT Ferguson Omega! On the subject of Canadian watches, I made some inquiries about Elbico watches but did so erroneously on the American pocket watch forum. Does anybody know anything about this company? My uneducated guess is is that it might be a subsidiary of a bigger Swiss watch company (Elbico = LB Co?) making watches for the early 20th Century Canadian market...here are some photos:
http://photobucket.com/GOT_elbico
 

doug sinclair

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My Canadian trademark list for 1985 shows a trade mark issued to Bruner (Bruner Masterbilt) watches, and E & L Co. of Montreal. The trade mark is ELB in my book, and this would seem to be only a short walk to ELBICO. This specific trade mark isn't shown, but it would seem as though there was a chance that there was an association of Elbico, E & L, ELB, and Bruner Masterbilt.
 

Kevin W.

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Got this one is not working for me.
 

GOT

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Try dragging the whole URL into your browser box at the top of the page. Seems to work then...not sure why my abbreviated version doesn't now work, as it did a few days ago! Then again, I used to do haying with horses in Saskatchewan when I was a kid, so modern technology is not my comfort zone!
-> posts merged by system <-
hmmm..that doesn't work either, except for me apparently. I'll sort it out and get back. Sorry about that.
-> posts merged by system <-
OK! Maybe third time lucky...I've changed the URL to something even simpler. So, for images of an Elbico pocket watch, for those still interested, here goes:

http://photobucket.com/elbico
 

Kevin W.

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Thanks , Got.This time it worked for me when i did what you said .
from Saskatchewan, i know people there.
I can,t say i know much about your watch.Nice looking and Swiss that,s about all i know.There were so many Swiss made watches and many names.
 

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