This article refers to the Canadian subsidiary of American LaFrance.
LaFrance Engine and Foamite Limited was a Canadian fire apparatus manufacturer located in Toronto and Cooksville, Ontario. The Canadian Lafrance operation was an affiliate of American LaFrance for much of its history, but was always a distinct operation.
Seeking a share of the Canadian market, the American Lafrance Company of Elmira, New York, set up a plant and affiliated operation in Toronto under the name American LaFrance Fire Engine Company of Canada Limited. The company expanded rapidly and was renamed LaFrance Fire Engine and Foamite Corporation in 1928.
LaFrance assembled and delivered custom apparatus on American Lafrance and commercial chassis to fire departments across Canada, including JOX, 500, 600, 700, 800 and 900 series. The revolutionary 700 series sold particularly well, with some 169 trucks delivered across Canada.
In 1960, LaFrance moved its manufacturing to the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke, and relocated again to Cooksville (now part of Mississauga) in 1965. Corporate parent Sterling Precision sold its American Lafrance operations in 1966, but retained ownership of LaFrance. LaFrance continued to build trucks on American Lafrance chassis.
The company had lost market share to competitors like King-Seagrave and Pierre Thibault by the late sixties and Sterling made the decision to close the plant in 1971 in order to concentrate on other operations.
Over its 57-year history, LaFrance built and sold over 1250 custom and commercial-chassised pumper and aerial trucks to departments across Canada. Toronto was a major customer, as was Vancouver and Saint John.
- Dubbert, Bob, Shane MacKichan and Joel L. Gebet. Encyclopedia of Canadian Fire Apparatus. Hudson, WI: Iconografix, 2004.