SIR EDGAR JACOB BAUER

A Man Devoted to His Family, Faith, Business and Community

February 10, 1888 – March 20, 1959

Edgar Jacob Bauer was born in Kitchener, the second of ten children, and the eldest son, of Magdalena (Kuntz) Bauer and Aloyes Bauer.  Until his marriage to Alberta (Bertha) Hayes on September 11, 1912, Edgar resided at 168 King Street South, Waterloo.  He attended St. Louis Catholic School in Waterloo, before graduating to St. Jerome’s College, Kitchener.  Edgar boarded at the college.

At the age of fourteen, Edgar began working for his father’s business and spent his entire career there, rising to the position of President and Chief Executive Officer.  The company not only manufactured and sold cotton products from coast to coast in Canada, but it also boasted a considerable export trade.  During the initial six months of his employment at the company, Edgar learned the production side of the business, then known as A. Bauer and Company.  He followed that experience by working for fourteen months at Standard Woollen Mills, Toronto.  After returning to Waterloo, Edgar worked with his father until 1917, at which time the business was reorganized and incorporated as Bauer Limited.  Edgar was made Secretary-Treasurer and General Manager at that time. 

When it was built, the factory had twenty-two workers.  It was located on 2 ½ acres of land at King and Allen Streets that Aloyes had purchased from the Kuntz family.  The plant was a modern two-storey brick building with 50 000 square feet of production floor space and another 25 000 square feet in a warehouse.  From almost the beginning the space was taxed to its limit as the company received ongoing orders for its special cotton felt and bats for upholstery, buggies, and mattresses.  Apparently, A. Bauer and Company was the first Canadian company to manufacture tufts for the mattress industry.  It received raw cotton from the United States of America and mixed it with other products including old woollen or cotton clothing.  The padding or stuffing mixture that was created by the plant’s machines was called ‘shoddy’. For this reason, the company came to be known by its nickname, The Shoddy Mill.

One of the original customers of the company was the McLaughlin Carriage Works of Oshawa, Ontario.  As the automobile began making an appearance in the early 1900s, Bauer’s contracts with McLaughlin contributed to its huge success.  When McLaughlin Carriage Works was sold to General Motors, the manufacturing association continued and A. Bauer and Company was kept busy supplying cushions and seat padding for the new automobiles that were being manufactured. 

In 1920, the increase in the number of cars sold in Canada and the U. S. A. necessitated the company to install new machines and equipment to answer the need for an increasing range of auto cushions and pads.  As well, because the furniture trade was also expanding, Bauer’s had to install even more new equipment to make cotton felt for that industry.

Upon the death of his father, Edgar became President and General Manager and successfully ran the company for twenty-five years.  As car manufacturing increased, Edgar was influential in attracting lucrative, new contracts.  He kept the company up-to-date and under his leadership, Bauer Limited utilized the newest inventions, materials and processes in producing its products.  While General Motors continued to be a major customer, Bauer Limited also attracted huge contracts with the Ford, Chrysler and Jeep Corporations.

In 1933, the company began to manufacture yarn and twine and that move helped it to not only weather the Depression Years when its traditional business slackened, but to actually increase its output.  More production and warehousing space was needed to meet the demand resulting in additional facilities in 1937 and then again twelve months later.  The yarn that was being manufactured was used in mops and other household items and sold across the nation.  Bauer Limited sold much of the twine to tobacco and grain farmers for baling their harvests.  Also, in 1939, the company began importing sisal raw materials products from South America to create new products for the automobile and furniture industries. 

Following World War II, another addition of 40 000 square feet was added to the plant.  It included a modern power plant enabling the company to begin manufacturing foam rubber in 1954 for seating.  This created yet another addition to the facility.  In 1956, Bauer Industries added a latex-mixing department at the intersection of Caroline and Allen Streets.  Also, by 1956, the capacity of the original plant was insufficient to meet the demand for its products.  To deal with the situation, it had to build a 30 000 square foot warehouse on Dearborn Street (now University Avenue).  Still, later on, a new plant was erected on Dutton Drive in Waterloo.

Edgar and Bertha had 12 children (seven boys and five girls).  One of their sons was still-born.

Edgar was very dedicated to his faith and to the church and, with others, was instrumental in bringing the Carmelite Sisters to the area.  For his lifelong service to the church, Edgar was knighted by the Pope to the order of Knight Commander of St. Sylvester.  After his death, a local Catholic elementary school was named after him.  Sir Edgar Bauer Catholic School was the first local elementary school within the Waterloo Catholic school system to be named after a layman.

Edgar was very interested in his community and local politics.  He was a member of the town council for three years and was the chairman of the finance committee (1925). Besides his leadership at Bauer’s Limited Industries, Edgar also became President of the Waterloo Mutual Fire Insurance Company as well as President of the Globe Furniture Company, both of Waterloo.  He was also director of Pillner Products Limited.

Besides his active involvement at St. Louis Catholic Church, Edgar also was a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Waterloo Club.

While not personally involved in sports, he did encourage his children to participate and followed their participation with much enthusiasm.  Each winter, he would build a large skating rink for the children and their friends.  In fact, one summer, Edgar built a tennis court to ensure that the surface would be level for the skating rink that winter.

His wife, Bertha, was Irish.  After they were married, Edgar taught her to understand and speak German.  According to family accounts, they often conversed in German when they didn’t want the children to understand what they were discussing.

Edgar, Bertha and their family enjoyed many happy times at their cottage in Bayfield, Ontario.  They spent as much time as they could at their special getaway on Lake Huron.  In his later years, Edgar would often extend his weekends at the cottage from Thursday to Monday or Tuesday.

According to a family booklet outlining the history of the Bauers, Edgar was known as, “… a fair and just man.  His word was his bond.  A promise was a promise.”  Certainly, those are attributes and principles that all students and staff at this school should strive to emulate.

Sources:

    • Family Souvenir Booklet Courtesy of  Mr. Patrick Bauer, and Mrs. Debbie Wendland;
    • Archival Information Written by Mr. Ellis Little (date/source unknown).