The founder, William T. Hand in 1872.
Company picture at the Cooksville, Ontario plant. (Year unknown)
The T.W. Hand Fireworks Co., now known as Hands Fireworks, is the oldest company of its kind in Canada. William T. Hand, the founder, arrived in Canada from Hereford, England in 1873 and established a fireworks manufacturing company in Thorold, Ontario.
In 1874, he presented the first fireworks display ever seen in Canada at Montebello Gardens, which received high praise from the media and solidified Hand’s reputation as a celebrated English pyrotechnic artist.
The company’s factory was relocated several times, first to Hamilton in 1875, then Cooksville in 1930, and later to Papineauville, Quebec, and Milton before finally settling in Prescott, Ontario, where it operated until 2016. Hands Fireworks also had sales offices in Milton and Campbelleville between 1980 and 2011.
In 2003, Hands Fireworks partnered with Chinese fireworks manufacturer Lidu to adapt to the changing Canadian fireworks market. In 2005, Hands Fireworks stopped production in Canada due to rising costs. Today, Hands Fireworks is based in Toronto, Ontario, with warehouse and distribution locations in Toledo and Frankville, Ontario and partners with multiple suppliers and factories across China and Europe.
More than Fireworks
During World War II, the company temporarily shifted its focus to produce military items to drop in advance of bombing raids or photo reconnaissance flights. However, the company has continued to light up cities and towns across Canada with their fireworks displays throughout its history.
1905 Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto, ON
The Burning Schoolhouse is something that is still remembered by many Canadians, one of the items through the years that has made Hands famous.