Chester Everett Pickering, OBE was born September 11, 1881 in Blackstone Massachusetts and died in Ottawa in 1983 aged just short of 102 years old. He came to Canada in 1908 to found a cleaning materials manufacturing firm famous for a floor sweeping compound called Dustbane. The energetic efforts of Mr. Pickering resulted in Dustbane being made available rapidly from coast to coast in Canada. During his lifetime the company expanded its product line and became a significant supplier of an integrated line of cleaning materials and services. Dustbane recently celebrated its own centenary and still operates in Canada under the direction of Mr. John French, whose family acquired the firm following the death of Mr. Pickering.
Mr. Pickering established his firm’s headquarters in The City of Ottawa and became a Canadian citizen soon after his arrival in Canada. “Pick” as he was known to his friends, became active in politics serving on City Council and Board of Control from 1939 until 1950.
While a member of City Council he was always well ahead of his time, For example, The Ottawa Citizen laughingly cartooned him skating on the canal under the Bank Street bridge after he advocated the use of the Rideau Canal as a skating rink in winter, This was more than 30 years before the Rideau Canal became known as the world’s longest skating rink.
One of Mr. Pickering’s most lasting contributions to Ottawa was his initiative in forming a group to build the Lord Elgin Hotel. This Hotel project was intended to provide a much needed wartime addition to accommodation in the City of Ottawa. The Hotel remains a jewel decorating Elgin Street between Slater and Laurier.
Mr. Pickering also made contributions nationally and was awarded the Order of the British Empire following the conclusion of World War Two for his work supporting the civilian war effort and in guiding the Canadian participation in the United Nations Appeal for Children following the war.
Following his political career Mr. Pickering concentrated on building Dustbane, writing his memoirs and searching for ways to support the community he believed had served him well
Mr. Pickering believed personal success was often achieved with the help of luck and being in the right place at the right time. It was also his belief that his own success was largely because of the help he had received from others.
It was because of this belief that Mr. Pickering made a significant bequest to the Psychology Department of Carleton University to support research into ways to improve the start children had in life.
Please click here to read a recent article in the Ottawa Sun about the Lord Elgin Hotel, and Mr. Pickering’s role in the construction of this historic building!