National Silicates History

Launching a new industrial enterprise despite the ravages of the Great Depression called for considerable faith in Canada's future. National Silicates demonstrated such faith when it began operations in 1931. Just a century after Joseph Elkinton, a Philadelphia Quaker, founded the business that grew to become PQ Corporation (PQ), the Philadelphia Quartz Company optimistically established National Silicates, its first non-U.S. facility. This manufacturing venture was launched in Toronto, Ontario, to supply Canadian customers from a domestic source. The new firm, National Silicates Ltd. (NSL) opened its doors as a partnership with the longtime distributor of PQ's exports to Canada, G.F. Sterne & Sons.

  • 1831 .... National Silicates' origins go back a full century before the year it was founded. The company's international parent, The PQ Corporation, was established in 1831, when Joseph Elkinton entered into the manufacture of soap and candles in July of that year. A number of years later, as a result of shortages of soap makers' rosin from the South and the appearance in a German scientific journal of an article on the benefits of "soluble glass" in soap making, Joseph's son Thomas, began experiments with the manufacture of this material.
  • 1860's .... N® became the first trademark for a liquid sodium silicate in the United States.
  • 1861 .... The first recorded sale of the company's new product, sodium silicate, came in 1861. The product, while proven to be useful in soap making, found many new uses, and the company expanded, concentrating its efforts on the manufacture of soap and silicates.
  • 1904 .... The company became a manufacturer of soluble silicates exclusively.
  • 1931 .... Toronto, Ontario
    National Silicates Ltd. was founded in Toronto, Ontario and was the first subsidiary of PQ Corporation. It successfully weathered the depression years in Canada with 10 products and 8 customers. Today, the plant consists of a sodium silicate gas furnace, an electric potassium furnace, four pressure dissolvers, two atmospheric dissolvers and a glass powder mill. The plant has the ability to ship liquid products, powdered products and glass by truck and rail.
  • 1957 .... Valleyfield, Quebec
    The Valleyfield plant was established. It consists of a sodium silicate furnace and four pressure dissolvers. The plant delivers product by truck, rail (glass and liquid) and has a pipeline to W.R. Grace. It began shipping to the National Silicates western dissolver locations in 1988. The plant operates in the French language with customer service in both English and French.
  • 1960 .... An anhydrous metasilicate unit was built at the Toronto, Ontario plant. Metasilicate products are also shipped by truck and rail.
  • 1988 .... Whitecourt, Alberta
    The Whitecourt Plant was established and was the first mini-plant in PQ. It has one dissolver. It delivers material by truck.
  • 1991 .... Parksville, British Columbia
    The Parksville Plant was built on the Vancouver Island. It has one liquid sodium silicate dissolver. The plant delivers liquid sodium silicate by truck .
  • 1993 .... Surrey, British Columbia
    The Surrey Plant has been in production since 1993. It has two sodium silicate dissolvers and one liquid magnesium sulfate plant. The plant delivers sodium silicate by truck. Magnesium sulfate is delivered by truck or rail to customers in Canada and the U.S.
  • 1995 .... A new high efficiency sodium silicate furnace was installed at the Toronto, Ontario plant.
  • 2000 .... July 2000 National Silicates Ltd. started operating as a partnership instead of a corporation. The new name for the company is National Silicates.
  • 2007…. October 2007 National Silicates starts up its Ecodrill Plant in Whitecourt Alberta to service the expanding drilling fluid market.
  • 2007 .... The PQ Anderson Indiana Plant’s Powder Mill operations move to National Silicates in Toronto.
  • 2010 …. The PQ Chester Potassium Silicate operations are moved to Toronto in December.
    So far National Silicates' growth has been steady in volume leading to new product development and new markets. Increased production capacity provided the support for a widening involvement in diverse applications and industries. Current major markets include Pulp & Paper,catalysts, building products, detergents, mining, water treatment and  drilling fluids. Also an exporter, the company ships dry glass powder  sodium and potassium products,  around the world.   Today, this highly innovative and technological company, serving the needs of hundreds of customers with over 70 products, eagerly anticipates new and exciting worlds of industrial opportunity. People, its greatest resource find personal fulfillment and satisfaction during their employment with National Silicates. This is a company with a unique culture where teamwork and innovation thrive. Its experience is unrivaled in Canada's industrial society.
  • The Future .... At National Silicates we look to the future with enthusiasm as we look into the past with respect. Through our Responsible Care and Our Commitment to Sustainability we hope to assure for our Company a place and purpose as useful in the years ahead as in the years past. And no matter what plans are made for the future-in research, methods, products, or people, we will keep the one dominant note that has been with us from the beginning-the sound advice of our founder, Joseph Elkinton, to his son "to continue to dwell under a proper concern for the best things." And followed by his son, Joseph S. Elkinton, who wrote in his diary, “may the goodness and mercy that have been with him (his father) through life, follow the children, and we maintain a lively concern not to do anything that will bring dishonor upon the Truth and in 1931, William T. Elkinton again emphasized his father’s and his uncle’s influence when he said, “I crave…. That there may be no departure from integrity and uprightness, and no cringing to or accepting of the ways of doing business which are in any wise decepting or based on unsound ground.”

As we contemplate our future, as we have looked into the past; we endeavor to chart the course for the years to come, we feel confident that these directions will hold us in good stead for the years to come and we will continue to dwell under a proper concern for the best things.


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