The Pequegnat name may not be familiar to international readers but it was a significant Canadian clock company that manufactured both movements and cases beginning in the early 20th century.
The Pequegnat Clock Company was a Canadian clock manufacturer that operated from 1904 to 1941. The company was founded by Arthur Pequegnat a Canadian immigrant who brought his family from Switzerland to begin a new life in Canada.
Pequegnat was a skilled clockmaker and entrepreneur, and he saw an opportunity to start his own clock company in Kitchener (then Berlin), Ontario. But the story actually begins prior to 1904.
In 1897 Arthur expanded his Berlin Jewelry shop to include the manufacture of bicycles. However, by 1904, with the decrease in the demand for bicycles, Arthur began to re-focus on the clock industry by manufacturing his own clock movements at his Berlin Bicycle Manufacturing plant and the motto, “Buy Canadian – Pequegnat clocks are better than foreign-made ones”” struck a chord with Canadian buyers.
At first, the wooden clock cases were made by local furniture makers, however, in time, he manufactured his own clock cases.
Pequegnat Clock Company produced high-quality clocks, and its products quickly gained a reputation for their accuracy and reliability. The company produced a wide variety of clocks, including wall clocks, mantle clocks, and grandfather clocks.
During the early years, the company faced a lot of competition from American clock companies, but Pequegnat was able to differentiate his products by designing and manufacturing unique clock cases that appealed to Canadian tastes.
The company continued to grow, and by the 1920s, it had become one of the largest clock manufacturers in Canada.
The Great Depression hit the Pequegnat Clock Company hard, and the company struggled to stay afloat during the 1930s. In 1941, with brass in short supply as a result of the war effort the company was forced to close due to financial difficulties, and its assets were liquidated.
Despite its relatively short lifespan, the Pequegnat Clock Company played an important role in the history of Canadian clock manufacturing. The company’s clocks are still highly sought after by collectors, and its products are considered some of the finest examples of Canadian clockmaking.
The Maple Leaf – a symbol of pride
The maple leaf slowly caught on as a national symbol in 1868 (the year after Canada’s Confederation) as it was included in the coat of arms of Ontario and the coat of arms of Quebec and added to the Canadian coat of arms in 1921. The maple leaf is a symbol of our national identity.
Canadian readers and perhaps those abroad with a connection to Canada would instantly recognize the maple leaf as distinctly Canadian.
Cashing in on Canada’s identity as a nation, Pequegnat saw the value in naming clocks after Canadian cities, cities such as Stratford, London, Toronto, Moncton, Montreal, and so on. Indeed, most homes and businesses in Canada had a Pequegnat clock.
Berlin, Ontario was re-named Kitchener Ontario in 1916, due to anti-German backlash during WW I. This becomes a useful tool when dating Pequegnat clocks as labels, movements, or dials marked “Berlin” date the clock to 1916 or earlier, and those marked “Kitchener” are 1916 or later. However, many clocks had a long production life and it is difficult to date any Arthur Pequegnat clock precisely as there were no production numbers on the movements.
Pequegnat’s interpretation of the kitchen clock
The Maple Leaf series was Pequegnat’s interpretation of the popular American kitchen clock.
The Maple Leaf Series was a line of clocks produced by the Pequegnat Clock Company of Canada in the early 20th century. The series was named after the maple leaf, a powerful symbol of Canada.
The Maple Leaf Series was first introduced in 1911, and it quickly became one of the company’s most popular product lines. The series included several different models. The clocks were made with high-quality materials and brass movements.
There are 2 notable features of the Maple Leaf Series. One was the clock tablet, which featured a stylized array of 36 maple leaves framed by half moons and with an opening to display the pendulum bob. Why the number 36? In some cultures, it is considered a lucky number.
The second feature was a brass maple leaf pendulum bob.
The clocks in the Maple Leaf series did not have specific names and are referred to by collectors as the pointed top, the round top, the fan top, the curly top, and so on.
The clock depicted above may or may not belong to the Maple Leaf series but the maple leaves within the tablet design are considerably more stylized, and the edging is understated. Like the Canuck pictured below, this design could be a variant.
The dials were typically paper on tin and some had a gold center accent.
Many would not consider the Canuck to be a “Maple Leaf” kitchen clock though some variants had a maple leaf tablet. The Canuck also stood out from other kitchen clocks due to its use of steamed pressed oak in its construction.
The Maple Leaf Series was a significant part of the Pequegnat Clock Company’s success, and the clocks from this series are still highly prized by collectors today.
Overall, the Maple Leaf Series represented a major contribution to the Pequegnat Clock Company’s prosperity, and its models remain a sought-after collectible for clock enthusiasts.