Londontoys of Canada

The first name and date for the parent company of Londontoy recorded in the Ontario Archives corporate name index is Webster Bros. Ltd. on 17th of June, 1930. The next year (15th January, 1931) the name was changed to Webster Air Equipment Ltd., and it was again changed on 11th October 1932 to Webster Bros. Labadie Ltd.

Shortly before World War II, on the 5th January 1939, The company was officially assigned three names: Webster Properties Ltd., Webster Bros. Ltd, and Webster Air Equipment Co. Ltd. The next name change occurred on 8th June 1945, when the name became Webster Manufacturing Ltd., and a final change to Webster Bros. Ltd. was recorded on 16th April 1946.

W. G. Webster is said to have been a great inventor and was responsible for the design of most of the toy moulds. He was a Member of Parliament, a prisoner of war, and Chief Liquor Board Commissioner (1944-45).

The company's factory was located at 169 King Street East, London, Ontario. It made air compressors and spray painting equipment, air pumps for Jeeps during the War, and it is not known when toy production started but is thought to have occurred as a means of using waste and rejected metal, rather than transporting it to be re-purified. Webster Bros. finally ceased production in 1949, and the factory closed in 1950.

In 1951, Archie Palmer (a former company salesman) purchased the Londontoy name, the moulds, and everything else relating to the manufacture of toys. M. A. Henry also bought the machinery and factory at this time. The latter are known to have had an existing factory in Dundas, Ontario and to have initially cast items in London, and then shipped them to Dundas for assembly and painting. Later in 1951 all production was moved to Dundas (advertised in the Canadian Variety Merchandising publication of January 1952).

M. A. Henry also operated a factory at Scarborough Junction where, after the War, a line of toys called the "Ranch Sets of the Stars" (cap pistols and holsters) was made. The moulds for these items were imported to Canada in exchange for the exportation of the Londontoy moulds to the U.S.A., for periods of not more than 3 months, as allowed for by the Canadian Government. The company of Leslie Henry (related to M. A. Henry) used the moulds to produce their own line of toys in Vernon, New York and Wilkesbury, Pennsylvania. When the London based operations were moved to Dundas, the operations at Scarborough were also moved there. The exchange of moulds proved to be lucrative for both companies.

It is said Archie Palmer eventually sold his moulds to an Australian company — this may have been John Brent who is said to have spent some time in Canada trying to set up a plastic toy company that eventually did not do well. The New Zealand and Australian releases of Brentware/Brentoy toys show a remarkable similarity to the Londontoy releases, although the dies appear to have been modified for the tanker and beverage trucks which had an Austin Loadstar cab.

[Data obtained from internet research and "Its a Londontoy — Notes for Collectors" by Jim Burrage.]