Oshawa was once home to the largest makers of hand-painted pottery in Canada, as well as the only artware pottery in the Dominion of Canada. Smith Potteries operated in Oshawa from approximately 1925 to 1949.
Smith Potteries produced a range of products such as vases, bowls, candlesticks, lamp bases, ashtrays, and other souvenir novelties with hand painted designs. Each piece features a maker’s mark that can be found on the bottom of the piece that was either in the form of a stamp or decal – which is most common. The decals are round with gold trim and red centres. They read “Smith Potteries Velta Artware registered Made in Canada Oshawa Ont.”
The business was located at 353 Kingston Road West and Alexandra Boulevard (today King Street West and Grenfell Street). It was owned and operated by Herbert C. Smith from approximately 1925-38 and Fred A. Smith from 1939-49.
The pottery was highly sought after and shipped across North America. Smith Potteries was so successful that they expanded their business in 1930. Their production of a specialized semi-porcelain pottery, also known as white ware, made Smith Potteries competitively successful with other countries, such as the United States, China, Britain, Japan, Germany, and Sweden. The white ware pottery was resilient and of fine quality, a mixture of clay shipped from England, Kentucky, and Saskatchewan.
A keen businessman, H.C. Smith installed a gas station in the front of the store in order to attract tourists and motorists looking to purchase souvenirs. Also on the premise was another Smith family operation, Smith Sporting Goods, which was in business until 1968.
Despite the successfulness of the business, little is known about the business that produced high quality pottery.