Fonds 2012-004 - Cooke fonds

Identity area

Reference code

CA ON00034 2012-004

Title

Cooke fonds

Date(s)

  • 1855 - 2005 (Creation)

Level of description

Fonds

Extent and medium

30.5 cm textual records
2.0 cm ephemera
2.5 cm news clippings
4.0 cm maps and plans ; folded
ca. 1,000 photographs
2 artifacts

Context area

Name of creator

(1908-)

Biographical history

Jacob Cooke was born in England in 1908 and emigrated to Canada in 1927, eventually settling in Burlington, Ontario. He worked as a carpenter’s helper for Pigott Construction (based in Hamilton, Ontario), and later specialized in the laying of hardwood floors. In 1935, he purchased a hand operated block making machine and began manufacturing concrete blocks in the evenings in a shed at the back of his home at 3 New Street (now 2109 New Street). The blocks were to be used as bases for Christmas trees that decorated Brant Street that Christmas season.

In 1937, he installed his first power-operated block machine. He purchased sand and gravel from Frank Scheer on St. Matthew’s Avenue. The demand for concrete blocks continued, so what had begun as a small cottage industry expanded to larger premises on St. Matthew’s Avenue in Aldershot, on lands purchased from George Filman. An adjacent 55 acre gravel pit provided the raw materials needed for the rapidly expanding operation.

Jacob Cooke purchased property in Aldershot, Oakville and Hamilton. He and employee Brant Coleman developed these properties and sold them to builders. In 1952, they developed the Glen Acres survey (Birdland) on the Filman property. The streets were named after birds in honour of William Filman, who used to have a bird sanctuary on the property. As the business expanded, Jacob Cooke purchased Joe DeLuca’s farm which became the site of the Cooke Business Park at 35 Plains Road E.

By 1953, J. Cooke Concrete Blocks was the largest producer of concrete blocks in Canada, each day producing enough to build 30 houses. The company was in operation around the clock and produced ten million eight-inch blocks per year. Jacob Cooke, retaining the land development company, sold the concrete block business in 1958. His son William (Bill) stayed on to manage the company with his brother Eugene Barrymore (Barry) as Plant Manager. The company was sold again in 1977 and 1998.

At the age of 62, Jacob Cooke visited family in Australia and decided to pursue opportunities there. Convincing his son Barry to join him, Jacob purchased, cleared and planted thousands of acres of land. Jacob Cooke died in Australia on 6 November 1976.

William Jacob Cooke (Bill) was born on Maple Avenue in Burlington on 1 June 1931. He and his brother Eugene Barrymore (Barry) attended Maplehurst Public School and Waterdown High School. Bill married Mary Elizabeth Gray (Bette) on 19 February 1955. Bill carried on the concrete block business after his father and brother moved to Australia, and also became involved with land development.

Some of the areas developed in Aldershot by the Cooke family are Birdland, Harbour Heights, Oaklands Estates, Fairwood Place West, and the Cooke Business Park adjacent to the former concrete block plant. The Cooke family developed over 800 residential lots in the Aldershot area. The property now known as Oaklands Estates on Burlington Bay was purchased by Jacob Cooke in the early 1950s and was later developed into a residential street by Bill. Bill lived at 160 Oaklands Park Court, the home he built there in 1959. In the Fairwood Acres survey on North Shore Boulevard, Bill named the streets after his children: Daryl, David, Lynn and Lee. Bill’s wife Mary died in 2000; he later married Louise Oates. He died in Burlington on 12 May 2005 at the age of 74.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Material was donated in 2012 by Louise Oates Cooke, wife of William Jacob Cooke

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Fonds consists of material relating to J. Cooke Concrete and to William Jacob Cooke, and includes deeds and other legal documents relating to lands; correspondence; ephemera; news clippings; maps and plans; notes on biographical and administrative history; photographs; and artifacts.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Accruals

System of arrangement

Fonds is arranged in eleven series: 1)Legal Documents; 2)Carlisle Development; 3)J. Cooke Business Papers; 4)Correspondence; 5)W.J. Cooke Personal Papers; 6)Ephemera; 7) News Clippings; 8)Maps & Plans; 9)Research Notes; 10)Photographs; 11)Artifacts.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

None

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Series level descriptions available.

Finding aid

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Associated material includes a plan of Oaklands,1874; and segments in the publication Burlington: The Growing Years.

Related descriptions

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Subject access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

2012-004

Institution identifier

BHS

Rules and/or conventions used

Status

Final

Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Description created 14 January 2013 by Sonia Nicholson

Language(s)

Script(s)

Sources

Accession area