Heintzman & Co. Ltd. was a piano manufacturing and retailing business that was based in Toronto from 1866~1978. The company was founded by Theodore August Heintzman who apprenticed in piano building about 1831. In 1978~86 the business was relocated to Hanover, Ontario under the amended name Heintzman Ltd.
The story that he worked in the same factory as Henry E. Steinway is not confirmed, but it is true that the two Germans who were to establish the most famous piano firms in Canada and the USA respectively both arrived in North America in the same year.
Heintzman's first factory - a very distinctive factory - was opened at 23 Duke St, but by May 1868 it had been relocated at 105 King St W. In 1873 it had moved down the street to 115-17 where there was space for factory, offices, and sales rooms.
By 1890, the firm was one of Toronto's largest manufacturing concerns, employing more than 200 craftsmen and producing 1000 pianos per year. In 1888, a Heintzman piano was played at the Royal Albert Hall before Queen Victoria. The Queen was heard to remark, "I didn't realize that such beautiful instruments could be made in the colonies." Grand pianos were introduced about 1886. Two years later one was demonstrated before Queen Victoria at Albert Hall in London, again winning the monarch's praise and thus helping to pave the way for an export trade.
In 1876 the young company won awards at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition. In that year, too, Heintzman exhibited for the first time at the Toronto Industrial Exhibition (CNE). By 1884 nearly 2000 pianos had been manufactured, and in 1888 a new factory was built in the Junction district of Toronto.
The trade mark 'Heintzman & Co'. was acquired in 1888. Unlike some of competitors Heintzman Piano Co always aimed at high-quality rather than low-cost instruments.
At the beginning of 1900 about 3000 Heintzman pianos were sold annually. There were 18 branch stores and 13 distributors, from coast to coast, and the export trade was significant. Two competing companies were acquired when their heads retired in 1927: that of Theodore August's nephew Gerhard Heintzman, and the Nordheimer Piano & Music Company.
In 1962 an up-to-date factory (supposed to be the first built in Canada in the 20th century, but more likely the first after World War I) was built in Hanover, replacing the Toronto Junction plant, although the building of grand pianos continued until 1977 at a Don Mills (Toronto) location, and was moved only in 1978 to Hanover. The Hanover plant was enlarged in 1967, giving it a potential capacity for an annual production of 5000 pianos.
William D. Heintzman, had become president of the Sherlock-Manning Piano Co and in 1978 a merger of Heintzman and Sherlock-Manning under William's presidency was announced, the name Heintzman Limited was adopted, and headquarters were moved to Hanover, Ont.
It is reasonable to assume that the serial numbers of Heintzman pianos began at 1000. A few benchmark numbers follow:
In 1980 Heintzman grand pianos were numbered in the 200,000 series, uprights in the 165,700 series.
In May 1979 the Historical Sites and Monuments Board of Canada erected a memorial plaque to Theodore Heintzman at the First Lutheran Church, Bond St, Toronto.
King Street East.
Heintzman's piano shop was located on King Street East for almost 100 years.
Lithograph from the 1870's of Heintzman & Company Piano Manufactory at 115-117 King Street in downtown Toronto. Sir Ernest MacMillan, echoing the words of the world's greatest musical artists, exclaimed, "For many years I have enjoyed playing Heintzman pianos; I admire their fine tone and responsive touch. The Heintzman Grand is an instrument of excellent quality." [Photo, courtesy Charles J. Humber Collection]
Author Helmut Kallmann, Patricia Wardrop
The Canadian Encyclopedia © 2005 Historical Foundation of Canada
- The Commemorative Biographical Record of the County of York (Toronto 1907)
- Porter, McKenzie. 'The piano with the all-Canadian tone,' Maclean's, 11 May 1957
- Harbron, John D. 'At Heintzman hustle replaces history,' Executive, May 1961
- Gibson, Paul. 'Soon play Yankee Doodle on Heintzman & Co. pianos,' Financial Post, 19 Sep 1964
- Jones, Donald. 'Heintzman's old house enduring as his pianos,' Toronto Star, 10 Apr 1976
- Harper, Tim. 'The Heintzman family: 110,000 pianos later,' Fugue, Sep 1977
- Swimmings, Betty. 'Piano firm remains a family affair,' Ottawa Citizen, 6 Oct 1979
- Dewey, Martin. 'Heintzman piano firm has played its part for 120 good and bad years,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 14 Apr 1980
- Finlayson, Ann. 'They shoot piano-makers, don't they?' Maclean's, 3 Nov 1980
- [Gould, Malcom.] 'Heintzman Pianos,' Canadian Music Trade, Apr-May 1985
- Freeman, Alan. 'Judge rules against Korean Heintzmans,' Toronto Globe & Mail, 22 Nov 1990
- DCB, vol 12