A six-storey factory built in 1916 on South 1st Street in the Whitewater Gorge of Richmond, Indiana, represented the Starr Piano Company's initial foray into phonograph production. Starr also owned the Gennett Record label, initially a vertical-cut record which switched to lateral-cut in 1918 after the company won a lengthy court battle with the Victor Talking Machine Company over patent infringement.

In March, 1917, Starr began distributing its phonographs and records through The Canadian Phonograph Supply Company, 261 Dundas Street, London, Ontario which was set up by John A Croden and Wilfred D. Stevenson after lengthy careers in the piano industry. On March 1, 1918, they changed the name to Starr Company of Canada. By September they moved their premises to 265 Dundas Street giving them a larger, brighter and more attractive store.

In May, 1918, the Dominion government introduced a prohibitive tariff on imported manufactured goods such as records and talking machines, leading Croden and Stevenson to negotiate with Fred and Harry Gennett, of the Starr Piano Company, Richmond, Indiana, to plan Starr phonograph manufacturing in Canada. By mid-1919 lateral-cut Gennett records were being pressed at Compo Company factories in Lachine, Quebec.

The exact date when the first Starr phonographs were manufactured in Canada is not known, but a report in the Canadian Music Trades Journal dated February 1920, p. 57 states "The Starr Co., of Canada, London, recently had a visit from Fred Gennett, secretary of the Starr Piano Co., Richmond, Ind., and A. F. Meyer, production manager of the same firm. Mr. Gennett spent several days in London and in that time visited three factories that are now producing Starr phonographs in Canada. He was very highly pleased with the organization in Canada and with the facilities for taking care of Starr and Gennett interests."

"While of course it is a difficult thing to say that we will have all the stock necessary to look after 1920 requirements," said W. D. Stevenson, of the Starr Co. of Canada, to The World, "we are in a position to absolutely guarantee established Starr dealers a wonderfully improved service commencing at once. We are in a position to turn out just seven times as many instruments in 1920 as in 1919. This means an increase in production of 700 per cent and will assure Starr dealers all over Canada of being in a position to take care of their trade in a very satisfactory manner. As you are aware we are also establishing a Western Branch, which will be in operation in the course of sixty days. This is in addition to the office opened up at 412 Ryrie Building, Toronto, so that we expect in 1920 to be in a very admirable position to give our dealers a real service in addition to a line of merit."

Talking Machine World, September 15, 1920, p. 127: "To mark the commencement of its fourth year in business in Canada and to further develop its rapidly growing organization, the Starr Company of Canada, London, took out a charter as a limited liability company and is now officially known as the Starr Company of Canada, Ltd. The head offices continue at 265 Dundas Street, London. The authorized capital is $500,000, of which $225,000 is paid up. The officers are: President, John A. Croden; first vice-president, W. D. Stevenson; second vice-president, Fred Gennett; secretary-treasurer, J. E. Croden; directors, J. E. Croden, W. D. Stevenson, Harry Gennett and Fred Gennett."

The Trader, Official Publication of the Canadian Jeweler, November 1920: "The Starr Phonograph Co. has under consideration important plans for centralizing its production in London, Ont., and an announcement may be made very shortly as to what will be done. The purchase by the Canadian Edison Phonograph Co. of a large factory in St. Thomas, Ont., for its Canadian branch, makes it necessary for the Starr people to seek new premises. A heavy business in export trade has been developed."

Talking Machine World, November 15, 1920, p. 177: "The Starr Co. of Canada is planning the erection of a large factory at London, Ont."

A more expansive history of the Starr Company of Canada, London, Ontario, authored by Betty Minaker Pratt, can be read at

Canadian Furniture World and the Undertaker, May 1917, p. 38.

Canadian Music Trades Journal, April 1917, p. 46, 47, 48.

Toronto Daily Star, November 13, 1919, p. 10.

Toronto Daily Star, November 22, 1919, p. 14.

Toronto Daily Star, April 9, 1920, p. 26.

Canadian Music Trades Journal, May 1920, p. 31.

Montreal Star, June 26, 1920, p. 14.

Toronto Daily Star, January 27, 1922, p. 14. Listing of Starr-Gennett dealers in Toronto.

Starr Co. of Canada Limited invoice, 1920s.

Starr "Style 2" phonograph, unfortunately missing its legs, for sale in Nanaimo, B.C. in 2024. Labelled "Canadian Phonograph Supply Company, Exclusive Canadian Distributors, London, Canada". Photographs submitted by Lance Husoy.