MINNITOYS – Otaco Orillia – 1950’s

MINNITOYS (OTACO) was a high quality toy truck maker from Orillia Ontario.  They incorporated in 1948 and made a number of toy trucks in the 1950’s. We are always on the lookout for OTACO toys and it was exciting today when this HEINZ PICKLE truck walked in the door.  I must have spent an hour cleaning it and photographing it (One of my all-time favorite items to come into the shop)

This is a fine example of one of the large scale trucks (More photos below).

MINNITOYS were manufactured in Orillia Ontario by a company called Otaco. Most MINNITOY’S we see today like this HEINZ truck were produced during the 1950’s –  the company closed in the very early 1960’s and it’s difficult to find a exact date of production for each style truck made.  The early MINNITOYS were the Bulldozer set and the shovel and trucks with cabs were made shortly after.

The company was originally known as the TUDHOPE  ANDERSON COMPANY and was started around 1905.  They originally made steel wagon wheels for farming machines and they went bankrupt around the early to mid 20’s then the Royal Bank of Canada hired a man named Ross Phelps to manage the company.

In 1936 Mr. Phelps purchased the company from the bank and renamed it OTACO LIMITED.

In 1937 Mr. Phelps expanded the line to include other farm implements including the famous Autotrac conversion kit (allowing you to turn a car into a tractor).

In 1943 the company produced rear wheel assemblies for the Dehavilland Mosquito Airplanes but after the War ended they kept on with farm machinery and lawn mowers however big players like JOHN DEERE were flooding the markets with more modern machines and parts and the company started to fail once again.

In the late 1940’s (the baby boom after the war) Phelps saw a need for more toys and since he had all the equipment needed to produce all the parts he saved the company once again by switching to toy production.

Unfortunately the birth of plastic toys saw the end of production in the early 1960’s and the company finally closed it’s doors for good.

At its peak in toy production almost 1600 people worked for OTACO!

Total trucks produced is estimated to be over 200,000 (very few survived over the years)