Robert Shaw established the first brick plant in Hantsport, Nova Scotia, called Robert Shaw Brickworks.
Robert Shaw decided to move the brick production from Hansport to Avonport for a better supply of clay.
The town of Windsor was completely destroyed by fire on October 17th and needed to be rebuilt, requiring hundreds of thousands of bricks. Robert Shaw made a bold move and bought a train carload of modern machinery, thus securing the business to rebuild the town.
Abundant clay was found in Middleton and a brick plant was established by Robert Shaw’s son L.E. Shaw. The company was then known as the Middleton Brick & Tile Company.
After buying plants in Brickton, Bridgetown, and Avonport, L.E. Shaw and partners invested in a large Pugwash Brick plant. This enterprise eventually became NS Clay Works.
NS Clay Works bought out two brick plants in Shubenacadie and Lantz. Throughout the company’s history, Lantz becomes know as the hub of the company.
In August of 1914, World War I was declared and the brick plant was ordered closed.
L.E. Shaw sold his shares in NS Brick and Tile and moved to Wolfville to open a new brick plant with his father Robert Shaw.
On December 6th, 1917, the city of Halifax was devastated by an explosion. The SS Mont-Blanc, fully loaded with wartime explosives, accidentally collided with the Norwegian SS Imo in the Halifax Harbour. The city was flattened. Two thousand people died and thousands more were injured. The city would have to be rebuilt and the company received its largest single brick order to date.
With new investment partner Horton Phinney, L.E. Shaw Limited was incorporated. The cash injection allowed the company to build six new kilns, ten tunnel dryers, steel cars, and pallets. The new equipment meant the company could start to make a good profit.
The Chipman, New Brunswick plant was established. The property was chosen for its favourable proximity to the railway.
Only two years after the Chipman plant was opened, the Great Depression hit the world. The brick market took a dive and L.E. and son R.H. are forced to close down the plant.
In the midst of low sales at NS Clay Works, due to the Depression, L.E. Shaw Limited took the opportunity to buy out the competition. The Clay Works plant in Pugwash was shut down shortly thereafter.
Still at odds with the Depression, L.E. Shaw searched for a way to promote the construction of brick homes. The solution was to establish Modern Homes – a new company that would build and sell the brick-faced homes.
The first concrete pipe was manufactured in Lantz.
A plant producing both pipe and concrete block was established in Saint John, New Brunswick. The plant had originally been an army barracks and was one of three sites that began producing a new lightweight block called Thermocrete.
A new plant—one of the most modern brick and tile plants on the continent—was built in New Glasgow. The regional shale produced a light cream coloured brick that became very popular.
The Sydney block plant was established by Bob Gordon and Archie Macintosh in a building formerly owned by Dominion Steel & Coal.
The Clifton Street plant in Halifax manufactured block and small concrete products for a number of years. This operation, which later moved to Dartmouth, was a predecessor of the first Masonry Centre.
The Sydney plant started experimenting with lightweight aggregates in 1949, and in 1950, started producing Thermocrete block. This product was manufactured until 1962, when developments in the construction industry made it obsolete.
The Fredericton plant, which had been making brick for over 80 years, was converted to the manufacture of concrete block. A machine room and five curing chambers were added to the existing building and surplus block-making machinery from other company plants was installed.
Nova Scotia Sand and Gravel was established in 1954 for the primary purpose of supplying concrete aggregates for the construction of National Gypsum’s plant at Milford Station.
Yet another first for the company came in October of 1957 with the announcement that L.E. Shaw Limited would be the first manufacturer in Canada to adopt modular dimensions for all brick and tile products.
The Dartmouth Concrete plant was built and produced a wide array of products including roof slabs, manholes septic tanks, and concrete brick. In later years, most products were moved to other plants, so the division could devote this plant’s capacity to block.
Clayton Developments was a radical diversification that would come to pay enormous dividends for the company in the years ahead. Clayton was not initially an L.E. Shaw subsidiary, but rather a joint initiative in the late 1950s of four local businessmen, one of whom was Lloyd Shaw.
The 100th anniversary dinner in December 1961 was cancelled due to the death of Allen Cole. However, a lot had already been done to celebrate the anniversary.
In 1964, L.E. Shaw Limited purchased a block and concrete plant from Scotia Concrete Products in Wellington, Nova Scotia, near Enfield.
In 1964, L.E. Shaw started a bold initiative – a precast concrete business called Pyramid Structural Concrete.
Up until 1967, L.E. Shaw Limited was a privately owned company. In March of 1967, the family shareholders sold their non voting shares to Richardson Securities of Canada; who in turn, sold them to the public.
In 1968, L.E. Shaw Limited decided it was time to make Clayton Developments a division of the company.
In April 1969, L.E. Shaw Limited grew again, this time acquiring its own transportation fleet. They purchased Leo Isenor Trucking Company with 24 trucks including three tractor-trailers; four dump trucks; sixteen 12-ton “trailing axle” trucks; and a variety of dozers, logging equipment, and assorted utility equipment.
The 1973 oil embargo by Middle Eastern exporting countries sent shock waves around the globe and the effects were certainly felt at L.E. Shaw Group Limited.
In September 1976, the division opened a new Masonry Centre in Dartmouth on Ralston Avenue. It was designed to serve as a retail centre and delivery point for all metro orders of fewer than 4,000 brick.
On May 12, 1977, Lantz fired up a new shuttle kiln. With oil prices soaring, the new kiln would help relieve the amount of oil consumption to manufacture clay brick.
Only one year after the Masonry Centre in Dartmouth is opened, similar centres in Sydney, New Glasgow, Fredericton, and Saint John are launched."
In 1975, Pyramid phased out the architectural panels to concentrate on structural work, hoping the operation could be put back into the black. This did not happen. It was announced mid-1977 that the Pyramid plant would close at the end of the year.
A sixth Centre was added in Moncton in 1982.
L.E. Shaw Ltd. moved its head office from Scotia Square to Lantz.
On March 16, 1985, the old kiln, built in 1956, was torn down. Work began immediately on a new one. Seventy loads of equipment and double shifts seven days a week ensured that the new kiln was finished in time for a spring production start.
A seventh Centre was added in Edmundston in 1989.
The Chipman brick plant closed permanently on February 16, 1990. The loss of a major brick sales contract, an outdated plant, low housing starts, and shrinking markets compounded by cheaper products from outside the province were at the root of the Chipman closure.
Going Retail...In 1992, the Masonry Centres formally “went retail” and started to incorporate promotion, in-store features, truckload sales, etc., all designed to make them more appealing to the do-it-yourselfer, as well as the contractor.
A new $2.5 million state-of-the-art concrete products plant opened June 25, 1992, at Lantz. Constructed with no government assistance, it was almost completely automated and could be operated by a staff of only four.
There was a downside to the new concrete plant in Lantz – production had to be consolidated into one plant to make it economical. The Sydney and Dartmouth block plants were closed and their equipment sold off.
In 1993, the division launched seven new products including a Shaw Stone Brick, CobbleStone pavers and TerraStone pavers. Shaw Brick also choose the technology developed by the Allan Block Corporation of Minneapolis and after significant investment started manufacturing Allan Block retaining wall.
The corporate name of the company was changed from L.E. Shaw Ltd. to The Shaw Group Ltd. to better reflect the diverse group of companies included in its portfolio.
As a further step to position their expertise and quality practices, Brick earned their ISO 9000 certification after their first application.
Shaw Brick developed and manufactured a special customized clay brick for use with a new seismic stabilization system in Hokkaido, Japan. Just days after the first brick building opened, the city sustained an 8.2 magnitude earthquake. Not one of the 50,000 bricks in the new building moved.
On June 23, 2004, The Shaw Group acquired GS Concrete, a competitor in the regional concrete marketplace with a good reputation.
In 2006, as a result of a workshop organized by the Brick Industry Association in Virginia, the brick preparation team started experimenting with a bold new range of brick surface treatments.
Realizing that in order to stay in the landscape paver business, the old technology would need to be replaced, the Shaw Brick division decided to make a significant investment in this area by purchasing new equipment. This state of the art equipment is currently the most advanced technology in North America. GS Concrete was closed allowing Shaw Brick to consolidate all operations at the Lantz facility.
Shaw celebrates 150 Years.