100-year milestone for Norwood’s J.J. Stewart Motors


Bill Freeman

NORWOOD, ONT. – They’ve come a long way since the J.J. Duffus garage on Colborne Street and the wonderful possibilities of the Model T Ford.

It was a full day of celebrations for J.J. Stewart Motors, which marked its milestone 100th anniversary on Saturday, a remarkable achievement spanning two centuries, four generations, world wars, moonwalks and the transition from Ford to Dodge-Desoto-Chrysler and Chrysler-Dodge-Plymouth as well as 34 years of selling Massey Ferguson farm equipment.

Along the way there have been awards, accolades and a deep involvement in the community.

“It’s nice to have everyone out to let them know how much we appreciate them, without them we’re not lasting ten years let alone 100 years,” said Dave Stewart who, with brother Mark, represents the fourth generation of Stewarts to guide the dealership which moved to its new flagship shop on Highway 7 in 2003.

It all started on Colborne Street in 1916 with the JJ Duffus garage, which Fred Stewart began to manage in 1918. He purchased the business in 1926 and his son Jack started working there on weekends and eventually joined his dad in 1936 when it became Stewart Motors and a Dodge-Desoto-Chrysler dealership.

It became a Chrysler-Dodge-Plymouth dealership in 1948 as well as a Massey Ferguson shop. They stopped selling farm equipment in 1982.

Jack’s sons John and Ross joined in 1966 and it became known as J.J. Stewart Motors Limited. Mark and Dave officially joined the company in 1996.

The original garage was remarkable for many reasons not the least that it allowed local folks to see “firsthand the machine that transformed the patterns and style of Canadian life: the Model T Ford,” Jack said during an earlier celebration.

“It’s a neat thing to show the history of us today,” said Dave. “It’s a very proud day for grandpa, dad Mark and I.”

Dave admitted that it’s a “very rare thing” to get to stay in your hometown and be part of a 100-year business legacy.

“I led kind of a charmed life. I grew up in the dealership and got to go away for a while and do my own thing and then return to a business I enjoy and family that’s all kind of working towards the same goal. As a 44-year-old guy to work with my grandpa, dad and my brother, it’s a pretty rare thing.”

“It’s something else to be in business 100 years to work beside your grandfather and have my son here and Dave’s kids and hopefully we can continue for a fifth generation,” his brother Mark added.

“I’ve witnessed so many good things and I think this community owes them a real debt of gratitude and support,” long-time family friend and former Reeve and Mayor Doug Pearcy said. “What J.J. and his family have done for the whole community is astounding.”

“John and I joined the Lions the same year and have been friends ever since,” said Pearcy.

“What makes it successful is looking after people.”

– Peterborough This Week