Heritage \ Writings \

John Donald McKinnon (1841-1914)
Born at Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Owned large manufacturing business in Bay City, MI.

History of Saginaw and Bay Counties, Michigan - 1892


When one considers that the commercial and manufacturing interests of the Northern tier of Central States and especially of that State which we are at present considering, dates it inception within the last score of years, its present flourishing condition is nothing shore of marvelous, and the promoters of these interests must be looked upon as were the magicians of the past. Our subject is at the head of the most important of the industries of the State of Michigan, being President of the McKinnon Manufacturing Company, where numbers of skilled mechanics are at work on boilers, engines and all kinds of machinery.

The firm makes a specialty of patented work, turning out large numbers of water spacers, refuse burners, patent peerless gate bars, sawmill and marine machinery; they also have the advantage of a slip for hoisting and dry-docking boats. Their place of business is located on the Saginaw River between Eleventh and Twelfth Streets. The shops were established by our subject in 1867. He began in a very modest way with a boiler shop, adding to that a machine shop and foundry, and in time a pattern shop, and thus building up his business to its present size and importance. The company was incorporated in the year 1884, as the McKinnon Manufacturing Company with a capital stock of $50,000. The firm, which comprises our subject and his two sons, Hector D. and Arthur C., employs at the present time sixty-eight men, and in busy seasons from ninety-five to one hundred men are on their pay roll.

The manufacturing plant of which our subject is President occupies four lots. The boiler shop is 50x800 feet, and this with the machine shop and foundry nearly covers the space. The slip for dry-docking is 31x225 feet, and has a frontage on the water of fourteen feet, thus affording accommodation for the largest boats that navigate the Saginaw River, and indeed the company has most of that business for the city and vicinity.

John D. McKinnon was born at Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, March 17, 1841, and is a son of Donald and Jeanette (Sutherland) McKinnon. The parents emigrated from Argyleshire, Scotland, to Nova Scotia, where the father became a contractor and builder. He remained there until 1876, when they removed to Bay City, and there he died in 1887; the mother still survives. She is a member of the Presbyterian Church, and has brought up her family in the same faith.

Our subject was educated in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and at the age of twenty went to New York City. He remained there for eighteen months and from that place removed to Chicago, Ill. After a short residence there he went to Cleveland, Ohio, where he learned the trade of a mechanic and boilermaker. He remained there until 1867, when he came to Bay City and established himself in business. While in Cleveland he was one of the firm owning the Variety Iron Works, which was sold out, as far as his interests were concerned, on his coming West, Mr. McKinnon was among the first to establish an industry of this class in this section. He has also been greatly interested in various steamboats on the river, and has been a prominent stockholder in the Bay City Spoke Factory, although at the present time his is not connected with that firm, giving his whole attention to the manufacturing company, which is one of the largest of its kind in the country.

On July 8, 1864 Mr. McKinnon was united in marriage to Miss Agnes, daughter of Robert and Mary Kirk, of Cleveland, Ohio. They have been the parents of two sons, Hector D. and Arthur C. In politics he is a Democrat, and has held several important offices, among which he has served as Alderman for four years, and is Bridge Commissioner at the present. He was a member of the Police Board for five years, and the Water Board for four years.

1918 McKinnon closing. - Added Sept., 2010.

SUGAR January, 1918, Vol. 20. No. 1.

McKinnon Boiler & Machine Company
Retires from Business

Many of our readers will learn with regret that after being in business for over a half century, the McKinnon Boiler and Machine Co., of Bay City, Mich., is about to retire from business and dispose of their plant. Back of this announcement seemed to be an interesting story, and in order to present it to our readers a representative of Sugar went to Bay City and interviewed Mr. H. D. McKinnon, who is president and general manager of the firm.

Mr. McKinnon explained that their decision to retire from business was made with a great deal of regret on the part of the members of the firm, for the reason that they have been in business for a great many years, and their business has been remarkably good, particularly during the past few years, while the prospects for the future seemed exceptionally bright. There were however, a number and variety of causes which led up to this decision.

In order to take care of their rapidly increasing business it became apparent some time ago that the plant would have to be considerably enlarged, and additional property was secured with a view of erecting a new plant. On account of the great difficulty, however, in securing building materials, combined with the high cost of same, the construction was postponed from time to time, while the need of greater facilities became more apparent as the business continued to increase.

While their present plant was inadequate to handle their business, it occupied a site which offered exceptional manufacturing and shipping facilities, and on account of this numerous offers were made by other manufacturing interests for the property. One of these offers recently made was so attractive that it was finally decided to dispose of it. At the same time numerous offers were received from other concerns for some of the machinery and shop equipment, which was modern and in good condition. The demand for machine shop equipment of this kind is now so great that it is practically impossible to secure new equipment, and as a result such machinery is readily salable at good prices. While no attempt has been made as yet to dispose of this machinery, some of it has already been sold, and the balance will be sold as soon as the plant has been shut down.

This business was established in 1867 by John D. McKinnon, the father of the present owners. The firm began the business of the sugar apparatus in the early part of its career, furnishing equipment for the first sugar factory built for the Michigan Sugar Company, for which F. W. Wolf & Co., of Chicago were the engineers and contractors. Since that time the firm has furnished a large amount of equipment for beet sugar houses throughout the country, particularly those in the state of Michigan. This equipment included boilers, tankage, dryers, structural steel, and general steel plate construction, etc.

The present members of the firm are Mr. H. D. McKinnon, who has been the active head of the business for many years, and Mr. H. C. McKinnon. We are advised that as soon as the company's affairs are closed up Mr. H. D. McKinnon intends to take up his permanent residence in southern California, where he has extensive property interests.

1920 McKinnon suit. - Added Sept., 2010.

The Louisian Planter and Sugar Manufacturer, Vol. 28, 1920

The McKinnon Manufacturing Company has brought a foreclosure suit against the German-American Co-Operative Beet Sugar Company, of Michigan. The McKinnon Manufacturing Company supplied a large amount of material and labor for the factory, which was a failure and did not work properly.

Additional Notes.

    1871 Michigan Births: Bay City.

  • Mary J. McKinnon, born Oct. 8, 1871, daughter of John D. and Agnes McKinnon.

    1872 Michigan Deaths: Bay City.

  • Mary J. McKinnon, age 11 months, died Sep. 4, 1872, daughter of John D. and Agnes McKinnon.

    1883 Michigan Deaths: Bay City.

  • John D. McKinnon, born 1869 Nova Soctia, died Feb. 3, 1883. Son of John D. and Agnes McKinnon.

    1883 Directory: Bay City, Mich.

  • McKinnon, John D. (McKinnon & Co.), res w s Washington bet 10th and 11th.
  • McKinnon & Co. (John D., Agnes and Duncan McKinnon), Proprs Bay City Steam Boiler Works, 228 N. Water.

    1891 - Directory: Bay City, Mich.

  • McKinnon, Arthur C. - treas McKinnon Mnfg Co, bds 245 Washington ave.
  • McKinnon, Hector D. - sec McKinnon Mnfg Co, bds 245 Washington ave.
  • McKinnon, John D. - Pres McKinnon Mnfg Co, res 245 Washington ave.

    1914 - History of Michigan, Vol. 2, by Charles Moore (1915)

  • John Donald MacKinnon, whose death on June 4 1914, bereaved the community of a most honorable member.
Related Pages/Notes

John D. McKinnon

Related pages:
None at this time.
People Referenced
Kirk, Agnes (wife)
Kirk, Mary Mrs.
Kirk, Robert
McKinnon, Arthur C. (son)
McKinnon, Donald (father)
McKinnon, Hector D. (son)
McKinnon, John D. (subj.)
McKinoon, Mary J. (dau)
Southerland, Jeanette (mother)
Subjects Referenced
Argyleshire, Scotland
Bay City, MI
Bay City Spoke Factory
Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
Chicago, IL
Cleveland, OH
F W Wolf & Co.
German-American Sugar Co.
McKinnon Mfg. Co.
New York, NY
Saginaw River, MI
Variety Iron Works
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.