Parkers Cleaners was founded by Robert Parker . . . Parker emigrated to Canada from England, and originally located in Montreal. He moved to Ottawa in 1876, and with his sons James and William purchased a property on Sparks Street, which was formerly a church. The original name was R. Parker Dyeing and Scouring Works, because dry cleaning had not yet been established. All items were washed. Business was carried on at the old church until 1903, when a new three story building was constructed.
The main business was dyeing ostrich feathers and cleaning gloves. However, one room in the new building was fire-proofed for dry cleaning. Dry cleaning was done by way of hand brushing garments with benzene (a highly flammable liquid) and hanging them up to air dry.
When World War I broke out, Parkers received contracts from the government to dye dufflebags a khaki colour. In approximately 1930 Parkers began using a fairly new petroleum-based solvent, in equipment purchased from England. This was the precursor to modern dry cleaning. Parkers also carried out government contracts in World War II, including dry cleaning. After the War, the dyeing business steadily decreased, and Parkers began cleaning with perchloroethylene, a new synthetic non-flammable solvent. This paved the way for on-site cleaning in residential areas.
The company was incorporated as Parker’s Dye Works & Cleaners Limited in 1951, and was by this time controlled by the Clarkson family. In approximately 1970 the company was purchased by New Method Laundry, which was owned by Canadian Corporate Management Company Limited. In 1977 the business was purchased from Canadian Corporate Management. Parkers is one of the oldest dry cleaning businesses in Canada, with a rich history.