Sunday, April 22, 2018


W. J. Hughes "Corn Flower"                        


William John "Jack" Hughes was born in Amaranth township in 1881, the year Dufferin county was incorporated. When he was a young boy, his mother died, leaving his father to care for the six children of the family. At a young age, Jack's family moved from Amaranth to Melancthon township, where they lived in difficult poverty.  With very little formal education, Jack's ambition, his knack for business, and his sheer determination to build a better life for himself and his family yielded him great success in life. As founder and operator of W.J. Hughes & Sons Corn Flower Limited, Jack ran his business for 39 years with integrity and creativity.

Company History            



After working for a few years as a silver-measurer at Roden Brothers Silversmiths in Toronto, Jack learned the art of glass-cutting in 1907. He later set up shop cutting glass in the basement of his home at 212 Wychwood Avenue in Toronto, c. 1912-1914. Purchasing glass blanks in small numbers, Jack hand-cut the pieces in his basement workroom. He then packed up the glassware in his car to show and sell his wares at jewelry and gift stores in Toronto and in smaller towns around southern Ontario, including stores in Dufferin county.

From these humble beginnings, Jack built his business strategy upon providing quality cut glassware, sold through reputable stores, at prices accessible to the average Canadian consumer. On these foundations, and due to growing word-of-mouth praise for Corn Flower, the company grew and prospered. In the late 1940s, he and Pete Kayser built a permanent factory for his company at 102 Tycos Drive in Toronto, complete with a product showroom. 

Pete came on board to the family business in the mid 1940s. A former flying instructor who had married Jack's only daughter, Lois, Pete's strong business sense and his similar knack for anticipating consumer trends led W.J. Hughes & Sons Corn Flower Limited into a new phase of expansion, from 1951 to 1988. 



In this period of the company's history, many new and different glass blanks were cut with the Corn Flower pattern. Under Pete's direction, many new lines, such as "Epic," were produced. Corn Flower also began offering coordinating lines of products such as trays and ovenware, to complement Corn Flower glass tableware. Into the 1970s the company also offered several lines of cut crystal, such as "Olympia," "Janessa," and "Northwood." Increased diversification of product lines, consistent quality, and affordability, were the benchmarks of W.J. Hughes & Sons Corn Flower Limited during these years of expansion.

The continuous 76-year business operation of W.J. Hughes Corn Flower is a Canadian success story. Both Jack and his son-in-law Pete were committed to the basic principles of quality and affordability, and their innovative marketing made Corn Flower into a household term throughout Canada. Corn Flower cut glass is cherished today by families who have handed down treasured pieces from generation to generation, and as such, Corn Flower is widely collected today by individuals and depression glass dealers.        

*The Corn Flower label and the words Corn Flower are the registered trademarks of W.J. Hughes & Sons Corn Flower Limited, used by the Dufferin County Museum & Archives under licence.           



Click here for information about this year’s Corn Flower Festival

Certified Authentic "Corn Flower" can be purchased year round in the DCMA gift shop

Copyright 2013 by Dufferin County Museum & Archives