To continue with our series on the Leaside Business Park, probably better known here as the industrial area, I decided to investigate a business that has two names: Parkhurst Knitwear and Dorothea Knitting Mills, on Beth Nealson Dr. and Research Rd.
Steven Borsook is now the head of that company, opened by his grandfather, Louis Borsook, in 1926 on King St. West in Toronto, the site of the later, and now former, Ed’s Warehouse. At that time, there were many knitting mills across the city.
Louis named his company after his wife Dorothea. It specialized in hats, scarves, gloves and sweaters for women. Louis remained active in the company until his death, coming to work a few hours each day well into his 80s.
When Louis’s son, Beryl, took over, he initially moved the operation to Alliston, but found the commute too difficult, so in 1944 he moved to Leaside. He bought the building that formerly housed Research Industries, where gyroscopes and radar equipment for the military had been manufactured.
When they expanded into knitwear for men, Beryl thought the name Dorothea was too feminine for the label. He looked out the window of the plant and saw the street name Parkhurst, which at that time continued well east of Laird.
That seemed like a good, British-sounding name for men’s sweaters, so Parkhurst Knitwear came into existence, to join with parent Dorothea.
Beryl was proud that his company, starting with shipped-in yarns, dyed them and produced the finished knitted garments for sale all over Canada and eventually in the U.S. Beryl was with the company for 60 years until his death four years ago.
Now, Beryl’s son Steven is in charge. He shares his father’s philosophy and work ethic. He’s already been at Dorothea for 30 years, and thinks he’ll be coming in to work for many years.
“I’ll probably go out in a box,” he says. “It’s hard to get bored. I’m always challenged to do something new.”
The clothing business has changed over the years and he thinks his business may be one of the last of its kind in the Toronto area.
The company owns the newer building on Beth Nealson. The original Research Rd. building has been sold, but the company continues to work there on a lease. And, of course, many of us know the Research location for its thrice-yearly sales – spring, early fall and Christmas.
There may or may not be a fourth generation Borsook with the company. Two of Steven’s three sons have other careers. One of them is working with Dorothea now, but may not continue.
Steven ended our conversation by volunteering that he was “proud that the company is part of Leaside”.