Trained as a mechanical engineer, François-Xavier Drolet opened his modest mechanical shop on Des Fossés Street (Charest Boulevard) in 1875. Ingenious man, he invented and put in perfect running conditions various products which brought him notoriety in the city's outskirts and beyond.
The rapid growth of the shop incited the need for the construction, in 1908, of a new and more modern factory on the corner of the actual du Pont and Prince Edward Streets. Upon François-Xavier death in 1924, the founder's three son's. Gaudias, Arthur and Emile, took over the business before handing it over to their own sons. The company remained in their family until the mid 60s.
As for the name Drolet, synonym of quality it is still used as a signature trademark for elevators, sewage and city waterworks products, as weel as controlled combustion wood stoves.
The architect of François-Xavier Drolet followed a rational and functional plan. The red brick building was made of two L-shaped sections. In 1908, one section held the mechanical shop, and the other, the foundry and the forge
The building's distinctions were it's large and arched window's, it's simple ornamentation and it's light floor. The building, made of tight aligned openings, permitted a natural lighting inside and minimal ventilation into the vast central hall were workers performed their daily activities.
This old factory of wich only few models remain in Quebec City, is quite representative of the industrial architecture of the 20th century. The city of Quebec has respected and kept its characteristics at the time of it's exterior restoration done between 1993 and 1996.
When François-Xavier Drolet bought the land to build his new factory, he choose the St-Charles riverbanks, in the vicinity of the Dorchester bridge in Quebec city. Thanks to its location he can then establish a small maritime shipyard in 1907. A sliding-block helps to hoist the boats in dry docks and proceed to different repairs to the hull. The very heavy machinery parts are brought inside the factory for maintenance or adjustments on rail trains.
This new addition to the factory is the continuity of a long tradition as shipyards successed one another at the same location since the 19th century. Quebec city was then a key location in the timber trade and the Saint-Charles River was such a predilection for the naval construction industry.
During World War II, the then useless docks for the F-X Drolet shipyard were filled up. With it's closure, it was the disappearance of the last maritime yard on Saint-Charles River.
F-X Drolet employees are responsible for the company notoriety; the succeeded one another bye obtaining a quality training. The coexistence of the foundry, the forgery and the mechanical shop enabled them to acquire a more diversified knowledge, which led them to really master their crafts.
In general, the employee's through all the steps of the production of castings, the pouring of metal and piecework. In the Elevator division, the also performed carpentry, electricity, mechanics, and painting.
In carrying out their everyday jobs, they faced challenges with ingenuity and dexterity. Becoming outstanding craftsmen, F-X Drolet employee's were among the most solicited by the competition.
The company founded by François-Xavier Drolet first worked on industrial pumps and steam-engine repairs. Very early, the addition of the foundry diversified the activities, allowing to cast several products such as the well-known Drolet street fountains.
The location of the new mill on the Saint-Charles River banks in 1908, gave the possibility to repairs boats. It is also during this period that it started production of elevators and cable lifts. It is in the 1950s that this division really expended, with the fine-tuning of a hydraulic elevator, leading the company to become the most important elevator manufacturer in the province of Quebec.
During the two World Wars, F-X Drolet manufactured munitions and shells. F-X Drolet then decided to specialized into the fabrication of sewage and city's waterworks products. Mechanical chair lifts for ski centres and furniture hardware were added soon in the 1960s. F-X Drolet had then a wider range of products lines and the expertise acquired brought fame to its venture. In the 1970s, a controlled combustion wood stove division was added.
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