Central Canovanas

Date Established: 1880
Date Ceased Operations: 1965
Annual Production Graph
Average Annual Production: 28,075 Tons
Best Production Year: 1942/45,875 Tons
Family Ownership: Latimer
Corporate Ownership: Latimer & Co., Canovanas Sugar Factory Ltd., Loiza Sugar Co., Fajardo Sugar Company

Canovanas originated from the consolidation of adjoining haciendas Punta and San Isidro, acquired from H. H. Berg, governor of the Danish Virgin Islands.   It was the initiative of Philadelphia born merchant, banker and US Consul in Puerto Rico George Latimer, who settled in PR in 1830.  The sugar mill was built in 1879 by the surviving partners of Latimer & Co.; William Henry Latimer (1828-1897), Charles Alexander Hoard (1814-1893) and José Ramón Fernandez (1808-1893), also owner of  Hacienda La Esperanza.   It is worthwhile mentioning that Bárbara Fernandez Dorado (1832-1912), daughter of José Ramón Fernandez, married William Henry Latimer.

Financing for the acquisition of land and construction of the sugar mill was provided by the British firm The Colonial Company Ltd. who also had interests in central sugar factories in Trinidad & Tobago, British Guiana and Barbados and the NY chemist firm  Lanman & Kemp .  The $200,000 Lanman & Kemp financing was secured by Wenceslao Borda Rueda who was brought in as a fourth partner by Latimer, Hoard and Fernandez.  Due to a cash crunch, on February 3, 1883 and effective as of September 30, 1882, the four partners entered into an agreement with The Colonial Company Ltd. for a reorganization which resulted in the creation of the Canovanas Sugar Factory Ltd., incorporated in London.  The four partners deeded all equities in sugar lands and factory to the new corporation and Lanman & Kemp deeded to the new Canovanas Sugar Factory Ltd. all rights by virtue of their mortgage.  Lanman & Kemp in turn received a mortgage on the whole property owned by the new company and the shares issued to the four partners were pledged as collateral to The Colonial Company Ltd.  In 1884 the Colonial Company bought the Lanman & Kemp mortgage at a discounted value and bought Wencesalo Borda Rueda's shares.  

The Canovanas Sugar Factory Ltd. operated at a loss during most of its existence although it was the largest Central Sugar Mill on the island until the establishment of the Guanica Centrale .  From the time the Canovanas Sugar Factory Ltd. was born in September 1882 until it was acquired by the Loiza Sugar Company ca. 1910, management of the Canovanas Sugar Factory Ltd. was completely in the hands of The Colonial Company Ltd. and its successor the New Colonial Company, Ltd.  In 1925 the  Fajardo Sugar Company acquired all the assets of the Loiza Sugar Company and operated it as a subsidiary.
As stated by César J. Ayala in his book American Sugar Kingdon , according to the Colonial Governor, at the time it was established, Central Canovanas was "the first to be established on the basis of the complete separation between the growing of the cane and the elaboration of the sugar, which principle is unanimously recognized as the only one capable of restoring to this Antillean island its lost preponderance, considered as a center of sugar production, principal source of its wealth."  
Although named Canovanas which is a nearby town, this sugar mill is located within the municipal boundaries of the town of Loiza on the banks of the  Rio Grande de Loiza .  Its remains consist basically of the smoke stack and a very large structure which based on the old pictures below, was the mill itself.
The production graph for Canovanas is interesting and slightly different from other sugar mills.  In its last year of operation, production was 23,985 tons which was just slightly below its lifetime average annual production of 28,075 tons.  Its closure has been attributed to the lack of sugarcane, probably compounded by the fact that it was owned by the same owners as Fajardo, which production had started to dwindle down a few years earlier.   
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