to Complete Transcript to Soo Mill Video 1: The Sparrows

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The early decades of the twentieth century were a time of boom and bust in Canada.
And, for the small town of Sault Ste. Marie, sitting on the north shore of the St. Mary’s River, a
time of growth. The new canal locks brought shipping traffic from up and down the Great
Lakes. The steel and paper mills brought jobs and with them people to the Algoma area. Many
sought their fortunes as the retail sector exploded with new businesses. Most would not survive
the coming decades of economic and social change. But one man would lay the foundations for
a legacy that would last a century.
In an apartment on Peel Street in Montreal in 1887, Fremlin Edward Hollingsworth was
born to Jesse Fremlin and Edward Hollingsworth. Within two years the young family moved
back to St. Joseph’s Island, the childhood home of both of his parents. He spent the next sixteen
years on the island surrounded by grandparents, extended family and friends. He attended the
local school at Marksville, in what is now the town of Hilton, and passed his high school exams
in 1903. Most of his spare time was spent hunting until it was feared that he would do nothing
else if he did not seek a proper career. And so, in 1906, he moved to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
to attend Business College.
By 1907 he had obtained employment with the Lock City Manufacturing Company and
quickly gained an understanding of business in the real world, as well as the lumber and
manufacturing industries. Over the next seven years he rose through the company from nervous
bookkeeper in 1907, to full manager in 1909, just a few weeks before his twenty-second
birthday. It is clear from his description that this was an influential time in his life with a steep
learning curve, but it would prepare him for what was to come.
Around the same time in 1909, north of the rapids, William W. Baldwin purchased two
lots on the corner of North and London Streets and formed the Baldwin Lumber Company. He
operated the business for nearly four years during a relative boom economy. When the business
began to decline, he sold to Thomas A. Corrigan and Mr. Milne. When business remained poor,
Milne sold his shares to Corrigan and left within the year. The outbreak of war on the fourth of
August, 1914 only made matters worse. And Corrigan began to look for new investors.
Working for Lock City Manufacturing introduced Fremlin not only to the industry, but
also to the people of both Saults who ran it. One such contact had been W.W. Baldwin and in
1914, as he considered moving north of the boarder once more, Fremlin looked to the small
lumber company that Baldwin had once owned. Despite advice from colleagues that Canada’s
involvement in the war would make business investment risky, due to the belief that England and
France were unlikely to be victorious, he sold his shares in the Lock City Manufacturing
Company and in January of 1915, having purchased 50% of the company, began his new career
as bookkeeper and partner of the Corrigan Lumber Company.
When he arrived, what he found was best described by Fremlin himself.
“A one cylinder stove furnished intermittent heat, plant and yard inactive, no orders on
hand, no customers, sparrows had taken over. Before [the] day ended my thoughts drifted back
to what I had left behind, close friends, assurance, comfort with financial stability and no
sparrows.”
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