Employees, buildings and site locations may have changed throughout the past century with Ford Motor Company, but one thing is for sure, Windsor has been home to Ford of Canada since the day one in 1904.
The first product to launch from Windsor was the Ford Model C in 1905, when automobiles were built completely by hand. In this year, the Windsor plant produced 117 cars, including 107 Model Cs and seven Model Bs. The first year of payroll was $12,000 and the company’s profit was $12,442. A total of $5 dividend was paid to the shareholders.
At this time, the assembly plant was located along the banks of the Detroit River and stretched out less than an acre.. This building that Ford was using belonged to Gordon M. McGregor and was home to the Walkerville Wagon Company. McGregor was the man that negotiated the deal with Henry Ford to build cars right here in Canada (Windsor) in 1904.
Observers of the time were already suggesting that someone needed to invent a way to mass produce cars, and by doing so bring down the price to enable more people to afford the luxury of personal vehicle transportation. J.J. Seaton wrote in Harper’s Weekly in January 1910 that “the man who can successfully solve this knotty question and produce a car that will be entirely sufficient mechanically, and whose price will be within the reach of millions who cannot yet afford automobiles, will not only grow rich but will be considered a public benefactor.”
Henry Ford did just that, and the Assembly Line was born. Ford outlined many benefits of the assembly which included, eliminating heavy lifting, no stopping or bending over, no special training, jobs anyone can do and provided jobs to. This also made the automobile more affordable, the Model T went from $600 (1912) to $360 (1916).
On Oct. 7, 1913, Ford’s team rigged a rudimentary final assembly line at the Highland Park Assembly plant. Engineers constructed a crude system along an open space at the plant, complete with a winch and a rope stretched across the floor. On this day, 140 assemblers were stationed along a 150-foot line and they installed parts on the chassis as it was dragged across the floor by the winch. Man hours of final assembly dropped from more than 12 hours under the stationary assembly system to fewer than three. The same year the Assembly Line moved across the Detroit River and was started in Windsor. In January 1914, the rope was replaced by an endless chain. Plants across Canada started to open up to supply the demand of vehicles.
In commemoration of the anniversary of the Assembly Line, there will be numerous resources available on www.at.ford.com and www.media.ford.com. Time lapse video, then and now video, interactive timeline and an interactive map will be a few of the items available on Monday October 7, 2013.