William Neilson

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William Neilson, (March 16, 1844 - February 10, 1915) was a Canadian businessman and founder of William Neilson Limited. He was born in the Ramsey township, Lanark County, Ontario.

His working life began as a farmer in Rochester, New York, then moved on to being a machinist's apprentice in Almonte, Ontario. In 1873 journeyman Neilson worked in Brockville, Ontario, moving on in 1889 to retail store. Afterward he sold his store in 1890 and moved to Toronto and began a grocery store that eventually failed. Leaving his family behind, he moved to North Dakota to work as a farmer with his brother Jessie.

Returning to Toronto, still in debt, he purchased some cows and began the sale of milk. Neilson then obtained ice-cream manufacturing equipment. In 1893 the firm, William Neilson Limited, was started. Ice-cream and mincemeat were the first products, and these fueled the growth of the company.

Expansion and modernization started in 1904 with a new location and the addition of new equipment. By 1905 production was at two thousand gallons of ice-cream per day, and mincemeat production was discontinued. Chocolate was added to the product mix in 1908. This required further expansion and a new building was added, and by 1915 a new site was required and the production moved to Beachville, Ontario.

By 1928, the company employed a thousand people in all departments and production was at one thousand gallons of ice-cream per hour, and the company opened branches in South America, South Africa,...
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