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War Efforts at Kodak Heights

Kodak is most likely known for its photography related wart efforts, such as their advertisements encouraging citizens to send images to soldiers or the Vest Pocket camera sold as “The Soldier’s Kodak.”1 Nevertheless, they were also supporting wartime demands through employee initiatives and by shifting their manufacturing plants at Kodak Heights in Toronto.

A Kodak advertisement titled "Send Him Snapshots Every Week" with a soldier holding photographs
2005.001.03.2.001.10 1944 Kodak Advertisement

A group of employees organized the Kodak War Efforts Club to send packages overseas with sweets, knitted goods and magazines. In addition, they partnered with the Red Cross to host a weekly Kodak Blood Clinic and rewarded employees with badges for recurring donations.2

Kodak War Efforts Club featured in the May 1945 edition of KODAK magazine

In 1941, Kodak Heights was approached by the Department of Munitions and Supply to manufacture compasses. They had previously built tools and parts for combat airplanes, but this was their first venture in producing instruments for the armed forces.3 As seen in many sectors, women stepped into manufacturing positions during the war, and Kodak was no different in finding new roles for women to support the production of compasses.

  • Black and white image of a women inspecting with a magnifying glass a piece for a compass
  • Black and white image of a group of women in an assembly line building parts for compasses
  • Black and white images of a women using an industrial machine
  • Black and white images of a pile of boxes with compass material

In their internal employee publication, the company celebrated this endeavour and shared positive feedback received from the U.S. War Department as well as their own employees who were redeployed in the war fronts and recognized the C.K.C engraving (Canadian Kodak Company) on a compass.4

Kodak Heights even exhibited images of the compass in the Employee Building cafeteria to promote the initiative among staff. These images may have remained on the walls as a memory of their war efforts, because by fall of 1945 Kodak had already pivoted back to its regular production of cameras and photographic material.

Two Kodak compasses on a white background
2005.001.06.03.327 Kodak Mark III Compass

Kodak had several internal magazines which provide incredible first hand accounts of the day to day life at the company. Running from 1936 to 1955, “KODAK: A Magazine for Kodak Employees” was a bimonthly internal publication designed to communicate the activities of Canadian Kodak and its employees. For more information on war efforts at Kodak Heights, explore the publications in our database or on the Internet Archive for online versions.

  1. Roger, Andrew C. ‘Amateur Photography by Soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force’. Archivaria, vol. 26, no. January, 1988, pp. 163–68.
  2. ‘Kodak Meets the Wartime Challenge (Part 1)’. KODAK: A Magazine for Kodak Employees, vol. 1, no. 3, Apr. 1945, pp. 1–2.
  3. ‘Kodak Meets the Wartime Challenge (Part 2)’. KODAK: A Magazine for Kodak Employees, vol. 1, no. 4, May 1945, pp. 1–3.
  4. Ibid.

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