Did you know O-Pee-Chee made gum before they made cards? It’s true.
The company got its start in 1911. Brothers John McKinnon and Duncan McDermid had worked for C.R. Somerville, a gum manufacturing plant in London, Ontario. After the Somerville firm was sold in 1908 and moved to Toronto, the McDermid brothers took over the box division and eventually purchased it in 1910 (Somerville Paper Box Limited). Shortly thereafter, they started O-Pee-Chee and produced their first box of Gipsy gum.
The name, “O-Pee-Chee Company Limited” came to be in 1921. Trading cards were a big part of the O-Pee-Chee business. Their first card sets were produced in the 1930s: five hockey sets between 1934 and 1938, a baseball set in 1937, a Mickey Mouse set in 1938, and a Fighting Forces set in 1939. They made a few more sets in the 1940s, but it wasn’t until the late 1950s that the company started to distribute cards on a regular basis.
Here’s a note of interest…O-Pee-Chee Company Limited was originally located at the northeast corner of Adelaide Street & Dundas Street.