The blog asked David Wencer to write an article about the Nordheimer Piano & Music Co. As on the blogs tour of the The Village by High Park project provided by Deltera’s senior site superintendent Sean McCaffrey – seeing the artifacts of his families Nordheimer Piano factory greatly interests this author in learning more about the factory. Sean McCaffrey is a direct descendant of Samuel Nordheimer the owner of the Nordheimer Piano factory pictured
follows… Sean’s image with his kind permission for it to used here, and David’s article.
Nordheimer Piano & Music Co., began in Kingston, Ontario, when brothers Abraham and Samuel Nordheimer opened a piano dealership in 1842. A few years later they moved to Toronto, and quickly became one of the Dominion’s top dealers of sheet music world-class pianos. Starting in 1858, Nordheimer was Canada’s official seller of Steinway pianos, and the two remained associated with each into the 20th Century.
The company thrived, and in the late 1880s Nordheimer began manufacturing their own pianos, first as part of a group project known as the Lansdowne Piano Company, and by 1890, under the Nordheimer name itself.
In early 1904 Nordheimer opened a state-of-the-art, five-storey factory in what was then the town of Toronto Junction, near what is now the northeast corner of Indian Grove and Hook Avenue. This new building was made of white brick, and featured 60,000 square feet of floorspace, a lumber yard, two large elevator shafts, and a fancy new sprinkler system. The facilities enabled Nordheimer to produce pianos which had a very high reputation; advertising for the company mentions that “the Nordheimer Company’s ideal and energy is concentrated on the forces necessary to accomplish – regardless of cost – the product of the highest class and best grade only.”
An advertisement in a 1904 edition of the Toronto Globe touts the Junction factory’s railroad sidings “which, being used in connection with the different railway lines running through Toronto Junction give the Nordheimer Company the best facilities for shipping their manufactured products to every part of the Dominion.” From this facility Nordheimer was not only able to ship goods across Canada, but also to send finished pianos to their warerooms and recital hall in downtown Toronto, located at 15 King Street East.
By the early 20th Century, Nordheimer claimed to be the oldest piano and music establishment in the American continent. The company and the owners had certainly grown to be amongst Canada’s elite; Samuel had been President of the Federal Bank of Canada, President of the Toronto Philharmonic Society, and served the German Consul for Ontario. Abraham’s son Albert succeeded Samuel as head of the company; he himself served as the Dutch Consul-General for Canada.
Nordheimer officially ceased to be an independent company at the end of 1927, when Albert retired. Their Junction factory remained in use, however, manufacturing pianos under the Nordheimer name for Heintzman and Co., another prominent Toronto-based piano manufacturer. Sources disagree as to when Heintzman ceased the Nordheimer line, with the latest date given being 1960. It is believed that a total of 27,846 Nordheimer pianos were produced, the bulk of them at the Junction factory.