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Morris C. wrote: "Three years ago we purchased a Morris Cabinet Grand piano from family friends who purchased it from "a little old lady" whom we think may have been the original owner. Although it is not the Steinway Grand piano our son thought he really needed, it is a lovely piano and looks wonderful in our family room. We wonder if you are able to find out any information regarding the company or about the piano itself."


Dear Morris C.: I think it is just great that you want to know about your Morris Piano. In the late 19th century and the early 20th century many towns and cities had their own piano factories. Guelph had the Bell Piano Company, Windsor had Grinell Bros., Bowmanville had the Dominion Piano Company, Montreal had the Willis Piano Company (the faded paint on the side of the old factory can still be seen when driving into the city on Hwy 20) and Kitchener (then named Berlin) had the Berlin Piano Company. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, of course, there was no electricity and the phonograph was in its infancy. As such, the piano was the primary form of entertainment for many families. In fact, in lots of towns and cities you would find the cabinet maker, the funeral home, and the piano works beside each other on the main street. The cabinet maker was useful to both the undertaker and the piano builders! Morris Pianos Ltd. was established in 1892 by three Listowel businessmen to make use of a Listowel furniture factory that had recently closed. The factory had been a major employer in the town and the town fathers came up with the plan to make use of the existing facility to manufacture pianos. The company even received a bronze medal at the 1900 Paris Exhibition. After the factory burned to the ground in late 1908 the company was reformed in partnership with the D.W. Karn Piano Company of Woodstock. In 1909 it became the Karn Morris Piano and Organ Co., with its head office in Woodstock. By then the company had made over 10,000 pianos. In 1920 the company separated from Karn and was re-organized as Morris Pianos Ltd., with its head office in Toronto while the factory remained in Listowel. The company ceased all operations in 1924. As for the history of your piano, about the only thing that can be determined is the year of manufacture. Every piano has a serial number by which it is tracked throughout the manufacturing process. If you flip open the lid of your piano you may see a number stencilled onto the metal or stamped into the pin block. A qualified piano technician will be glad to look up the number in the Pierce Piano Atlas so that you can hold a birthday celebration for your piano.


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A piano professor at the University of South Florida uses a working grand piano as a kitchen table!

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