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Columbia Records Pressing Plant, Don Mills, ON

Profile:

Canadian full-service record and tape manufacturing plant established in July 1971.

VINYL IDENTIFICATION
Don Mills 12" records had an average weight of 110g with a 2.703125" pressing ring. Labels on 12" and 7" records used mainly Univers family fonts on 80 lb. Smooth or 80 lb. Offset uncoated paper.

Since the plant was involved in all steps of the manufacturing process, there are various indentifiers used at various stages of the process. The lacquer cutting facility and plating facility were popular and used by multiple plants and companies so Don Mills identifiers may appear along with those from other lacquering houses, plating processors, and pressing plants.

Lacquer Cutting: Usually included combinations of the numerals 2 and 5 with the letters C, D, F, G, H, K, O, Z often followed with a colon (sometimes the letters had commas inserted between them) and were hand-etched. Some of the most common combinations were C2-G, 2-D, 2-G, 2HZ:, 2HDZ:, 2HKD:, 2HDZKO, 5HZ:, 5HZDK but dozens of combinations have been identified. They were usually preceded by 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 5A, 5B often followed by a dash, such as 1A-2HZ:, 2B-5HDK:, etc. If these are present, please use Lacquer Cut At as a role for this plant in the LCCN section.

Electroplating: Originally the facility used the normal o or º or ° associated with Customatrix facilities. If these appear please observe the instructions in the Customatrix profile for entering in LCCN. After a few years the plant switched to a hand-etched DM or DM- to indicate plating. This is often found a quarter-turn counter-clockwise from the lacquer etching. If this is present, please use Mastered At as a role for this plant in the LCCN section.

Pressing: When the etched DM or DM- is followed by a stamped number, this identifies the record as being pressed at Don Mills, and the stamper number used for the pressing. If the stamper number is present, please use Pressed By as a role for this plant in the LCCN section. Don Mills only used numerals to indicate stamper numbers and never used letters. Worn stamper numbers should not be misinterpreted as letters (e.g., a worn 6 is often misinterpreted as C). Contract pressings for other labels (especially for independents and brokers) were usually two digits starting with 9.

Pressings can also be determined by the lacquer cutting etches, but only in conjunction with the 2.70" pressing ring and if there are no other pressing plant identifiers present (or the release is on CBS-owned entity such as Columbia, Epic, Columbia Special Products, CBS Special Products, Columbia House, etc.). The Don Mills plant did not press any vinyl after August 1988.

WEA: Pressings for WEA Music Of Canada, Ltd. can be identified by the C or CO code printed on labels (usually near the catalogue number). If the code is present, please use Pressed By as a role for this plant in the LCCN section. On rare occasions WEA would need to swap labels between its manufacturers - if a release with the code does not have any Don Mills identifiers in the runouts nor a 2.70" ring please use the plant identifiers in the runouts to determine the actual manufacturer. If unsure, please check the forums for assistance.

CASSETTE IDENTIFICATION
Cassettes released on CBS-owned entities such as Columbia, Epic, Columbia Special Products, CBS Special Products, Columbia House, etc. from 1971 to 1990 with the text "Manufactured by Columbia Records of Canada, Ltd." or "Manufactured by CBS Records Canada Ltd." can use the Duplicated By role for this plant in the LCCN section.

The plant also manufactured cassettes for other labels as well, such as WEA Music Of Canada, Ltd., who used the CB duplicator code on cassette shells for Don Mills. If this code is present, please use the Duplicated By role for this plant in the LCCN section.

In 1984, CBS switched to using exclusively CrO₂ tape for cassette duplication. Accordingly, cassettes with a red "Chromium Dioxide" banner at the bottom cannot be earlier than 1984.

Don Mills continued to duplicate cassettes after vinyl production ceased in August 1988.

HISTORY
Established by CBS Inc. through Columbia Records of Canada, Ltd. in July 1971, the plant included a lacquering facility, a Customatrix plating facility, 26 vinyl presses, a tape duplicating operation and a Shorewood packaging operation (Columbia/CBS was an equal partner in Shorewood Packaging Corp. Of Canada Ltd. until 1986). After corporate restructuring it operated under the aegis of CBS Records Canada Ltd. from June 8, 1976 until December 14, 1990 when thereafter it operated under the aegis of Sony Music Entertainment (Canada) Inc.

The plant design was based on Columbia Records Pressing Plant, Santa Maria and staff from Santa Maria helped set up the equipment. The automated presses were the result of intensive research and development by Columbia and a closely guarded secret. At the time of installation, they were considered the most advanced and efficient presses in the world. In 1972 Deutsche Grammophon inspected the plant at the request of Polydor Records Canada Limited and were impressed enough to permit Don Mills to press the first DG release in Canada since DG ended its relationship with Compo in 1959.

Originally the vinyl compound used for record pressing was imported from the U.S.; first from Keysor Century Corp. then in 1974 the supplier changed to Kaiser-Permanente. B.F. Goodrich vinyl was used after they expanded their Niagara Falls plant's production capacity in 1976.

Don Mills was the highest-capacity plant in Canada when launched, able to produce around 100,000 units per day. In the mid-1970s the plant expanded and added 14 more vinyl presses. In July 1979 a 65,000 square foot distribution centre was added to the existing structure and the pressing plant underwent a 17,000 square foot expansion in October. In September 1979 they added 4 new double-presses bringing the total number of presses to 40. In July 1980 the plant added an additional 40 presses (bringing the total number of presses to 80) and underwent a 1,000 square foot expansion to the tape duplication facility.

In August 1988 the plant stopped pressing vinyl entirely and contracted all vinyl pressing to Cinram but continued to manufacture cassettes into the 1990s. The custom-made pressing machinery used by Don Mills was a closely-guarded corporate secret and after vinyl operations ceased CBS it is rumoured all the presses were destroyed.

In 1993 Sony Music Entertainment (Canada) Inc. added recording studios and a CD pressing facility (credits as Sony Music Canada / SMC). The building was demolished in 2016.

Contact Info:

1121 Leslie St.
Don Mills
Ontario, M3C 2J9
Canada
(contact info now obsolete)

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