12.12-4: Canadian Industries 1955 'Pro-Tek', A Hand Protection Cream

HHCC Accession No. 2006.127HHCC Classification Code: 12.12-4

CIL, ‘Pro-tek’, a hand protection substance marketed by CIL in the 1950’s, in highly decorated and stencilled can, in orange, white and black. Promoted as ‘The Invisible Glove’; ‘The cream to protect skin against paint, grease and chemicals’; it would become part of the increasing sophisticated tool box carried by oil burner mechanics of the time, in order to protect the hands from the effects of soot and fuel oil, and present a clean, well groomed appearance in the home, CIL, Circa 1955


12.12 Pressure Atomizing Oil Burner Equipment and Systems - Installation, Test and Repair


Canadian Industries ,CIL


Canadian Industries Ltd., Montreal

Serial No.:

4 inch dia. x 6 inches high


8 ozs.




Exhibit, education, and research quality, illustrating the expectations of installation and service mechanics, for personal cleanness, a must for a new generation of home service workers working in the Canadian home starting in the 1950’s, part of a newly emerging service economy in Canada.

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From York County (York Region) Ontario, once a rich agricultural hinterlands, attracting early settlement in the last years of the 18th century. Located on the north slopes of the Oak Ridges Moraine, within 20 miles of Toronto, the County would also attract early ex-urban development, to be come a wealthy market place for the emerging household and consumer technologies of the early and mid 20th century.

This artifact was discovered in the 1950’s in the used stock of T. H. Oliver, Refrigeration and Electric Sales and Service, Aurora, Ontario, an early worker in the field of agricultural, industrial and consumer technology.

Type and Design:

Can in rolled and tinned steel sheet press on friction lid highly decorated in orange black and white

Special Features:
Performance Characteristics:
Control and Regulation:
Targeted Market Segment:
Consumer Acceptance:
Market Price:
Technological Significance:

New tools for hand cleaning and protection, as well as installation and repair, were part of the increasingly sophisticated tool kit of the new breed of service men and mechanics of the mid 20th century. The technology of the day was by definition mechanical, oily and dirty and required special hand care, in order to maintain a well-groomed public appearance and to project the hands against skin infection, as a result of constant exposure to soot, fuel oil and grease. CIL, responded to the changing conditions and needs of the times, by capitalising on its strengths in chemical technology, here a hand protective cream.

Industrial Significance:
Socio-economic Significance:

It was the 1930’s and as Canada slowly emerged from the economic depression of the period, so too would a new economic sector emerge, the service sector, one which would grow to dominate, contributing much of the country’s economic strength well before the end of the century. The home service trades grew rapidly during this pre W.W.II period and on into the 1950’s, plumber, electrician, heating and refrigeration. They brought with them a new quite different breed of industrial worker, mobile, entrepreneurial, and skilled in the new consumer technologies then available for the Canadian home.

Socio-cultural Significance:

With the advent of home-based technology in the 1920’s, including auto mechanics, oil heating and refrigeration mechanics, came the need for a new level of cleanness and personnel care ‘ beyond what was acceptable on the garage and the factory floor The graphics and promotional material on the can stand as exemplars of the advertising art form of the period. The emergence of such chemical substances, part of the inorganic chemical revolution of the times, were at the leading edge of many new personal care products to appear on the consumer market in the latter part of the 20th century. They would launch companies such as CIL into new market areas, often abrupt departures from their historic roots.


G. Leslie Oliver, The T. H. Oliver HVACR Collection

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