Established by Henry Pedlar in 1861, the company continued to be an important industry in Oshawa until it closed in 1982.
By 1894, Pedlar claimed to be the ‘largest sheet metal factory in the British Empire’ and to produce ‘the best metal roofing in the world.’ In 1911, they changed their name again to the Pedlar People Ltd. and two years later Walter R. Geikie took over as manager following the death of his father-in-law, G.H. Pedlar. Like many other companies throughout WWI, Pedlar People Ltd. made their contribution to the war effort. During the post war period they prospered and moved to a new location on Simcoe St. S. In the 1930’s the Depression slowed Pedlar’s progress, but they weathered the storm and survived in good health.
During WWII, Pedlar People Ltd. played a highly important role as they produced 40mm anti-aircraft, and 75mm field gun artillery shells, and 4.5 mm cartridge cases. They also produced radar cabinets, army huts, munitions shelters, mobile service parts and many other items that were needed by Canada and her Allies. This outstanding service won the Pedlar People the highest praise from Canada’s war production authorities. They also learned new techniques during this time, which helped with the consumer backlog during the years following the war. In 1950-1, Walter Geikie retired due to ill health and his son John took over. In 1976 Pedlar People Ltd. was purchased by a Toronto holding company that was controlled by Graeme G. Kirkland. Three years later, Pedlar Storage Products Ltd., a division of the plant, was built with a new head office in the Stevenson Industrial Park. The Pedlar People were not to last much longer though, as the Simcoe St. S plant was demolished in 1981 to make way for a shopping centre. Pedlar Storage Products closed in 1982, due to high interest rates and a shortage of domestic steel. For over 120 years, Pedlar gave steady employment to 300-500 men and was one of the great industries of Oshawa.