Originally published on Torontoist on October 9, 2012.
The Globe, June 3, 1882.
Business seems to have been good for gunsmith and ice-skate maker J.L Rawbone in 1882. Good enough that he was able both to move into prime downtown real estate and to lease a factory for his business. We hope that the shift to new premises was the only removal made by the weapon depicted in the ad above.
Rawbone’s business, founded by his father and originally located at 123 Yonge Street, was profiled in J. Timperlake’s Illustrated Toronto: Past and Present (Toronto: P.A. Gross, 1877):
This house, established in 1870, is now the leading establishment in Ontario for everything connected with sportsmen, and is situated on Yonge Street near Adelaide Street. It is the only manufactory of breech-loading gun implements in Canada, in addition to which Mr. Rawbone has also the largest gun implement factory in the United States, from whence he supplies goods to his American, English, South African, and Australian customers. The celebrated “Rawbone Creaser,” and the “Rawbone Combined Hand Turnover Rammer and Extractor,” are the products of this house. The house obtained honours at the Centennial and Australian Exhibitions in its exhibits. The fact that previous to starting his factory in the States the American houses ordered largely from him in preference to their own makers in spite of a prohibitory 40 per cent, speaks volumes for his workmanship and figures. Sportsmen may rely upon obtaining the genuine article from Mr. Rawbone, he having been a large manufacturer in England previous to 1870.
Timperlake seemed confused as to which generation of Rawbones was successful before coming to Toronto—it’s difficult to imagine a pre-teen, as J.L. would been prior to 1870, running an international gun business.
As for J.L. Rawbone, the “practical gun maker” later shot the “e” off his last name. Joseph Loxton Rawbon (1855–1942) was born in Cape Town and moved to England during his childhood. He came to Toronto in the early 1870s after his father set up shop here. He preferred painting and art restoration to gun manufacturing. His obituary claimed that he once toured Europe with a 15,000 foot panorama he painted of Niagara Falls.
Footnote: In the ad, Rawbone notes that his business is moving close to Aikenhead & Crombie’s, which evolved into Aikenhead’s Hardware, which evolved into the Canadian division of Home Depot, where you can buy a gun safe to store your antique Rawbone weapons.
Additional material from the September 15, 1942 edition of the Globe and Mail.