The Tilsonburg Vitrified Stoneware Pottery

(Also Known As Tilsonburg Pottery Company)

William Baillie & Andrew Craig

January 20, 1882 – February 28, 1882

The first reference to be found about the pottery is an article that appears in the Tilsonburg Observer on, January 20, 1882, under the headline "The New Pottery" which notes that “Messrs. Baillie and Craig of the Tilsonburg Stoneware Works & Pottery started their fires on Thursday and will soon have the first products of their factory in the market.”  

 

William Baillie, as previously noted, was a skilled brick maker whose progression into pottery production would have seemed natural. Andrew Craig is listed in the 1882 Tillsonburg Assessment & Collection Rolls as a “potter” and is believed to have come to town that same year.  Both gentlemen were born in Scotland and the connection between them is thought to be that of family, as William Baillie was married to Jennet Craig. 

 

Regardless of any family connection, Baillie and Craig began producing wares, which according to the local paper were “… the first and only ones of the kind in Canada. Their specialty will be manufacturing stoneware by a secret process known only to a few persons in England and America.  They make a jar that will hold any kind of an alkali or acid.”  If the company produced anything other than jars is unknown, as to date, only “mustard jars” have been found with the TILSONBURG POTTERY CO. stamp. 

 

That the business was producing something different and special was again highlighted in a petition that was presented to Tilsonburg Town Council at their regular meeting on February 7, 1882 in which was read “from Bailey & Craig, asking that their stoneware works be exempted from taxation, and a bonus granted them under late resolutions of the Council, as the business is an entirely new one, not only in this town but on the continent.”  In regards to this petition Council made the following decision – “On motion by Thomson and Scott, Messrs, Tillson, Borland, Waterhouse, Northway and the mover were appointed a special com. to confer with Bailey & Craig on subject of bonus to stoneware pottery and report at special meeting in two weeks.”  

 

The report of this special committee has not been discovered in the municipal archives, but the inclusion of E.D. Tillson on this committee no doubt contributed to the partnership of F. B. Tillson, Baillie & Craig being announced in local papers by March 2, 1882.

F.B Tillson Joins the Vitrified Stoneware Pottery

(Also Known As Tilsonburg Pottery Company)

F. B. Tillson, William Baillie & Andrew Craig

March 2, 1882 – April 10, 1882

Whether the Tillson family offered financial assistance before Town Council made a decision, or after Council turned down the petition of Baillie & Craig, remains unknown, but that money was exchanged for partnership privileges for Fred Bloomfield (F.B.)Tillson, eldest son of E.D. Tillson, seems evident.

The new partner and prosperity of the firm was noted in the March 17, 1882 edition of the Woodstock Sentinel Review under Tilsonburg as follows, “Mr. Fred Tillson has taken an interest in the pottery business here, which is a sure guarantee that the enterprise will be successful.  Two more kilns are building and many hands will be employed this coming season."

The Tilsonburg Observer continued the glowing reports about the pottery in a page one article on March 24th, in which can be learned that the pottery “… is  an industry destined to become a major force in the town and that the proprietors Messrs. F.B. Tillson, Baillie and Craig are very pleased with the works produced so far” and that the pottery is now producing “… jars of every description, beer and ink bottles, jugs, etc. all made on a power wheel and water pitchers, spittoons, etc., pressed into moulds ; the designs being chaste and elegant.”  The article continues …”So encouraging are the future prospects of the concern, the proprietors, Messrs. Tillson, Baillie & Craig, are already making preparations to enlarge the works and extend their business.”   

 

These proposed expansion plans would not however include William Baillie, as on April 10, 1882, a Dissolution of Partnership was registered in the County of Oxford, giving notice that “… the partnership for some time past carried on by Messrs. Fred B. Tillson, William Baillie and Andrew Craig, under the firm of “Tillson, Baillie & Craig at Tilsonburg in the County of Oxford in the Province  of Ontario as manufacturers of  Pottery Wares, was this day, as far as relates to the interest of the said William Baillie therein, dissolved by mutual consent and the business will henceforth be carried  on under the firm of F. B. Tillson  & Co. and the said F. B. Tillson and Andrew Craig are  authorized to discharge all debts and receive all credits on account of the said partnership concern.  Dated at Tilsonburg this l0th day of April, 1882.” 

The reasons for Baillie’s departure were not recorded, but a later article in the Tilsonburg Observer, which talks of William Baillie returning from the trip he took “for his health” may provide a clue.  Andrew Craig, who was the trained potter, would remain as the “Co.” part of Tillson & Co.