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The 600 workers at Whirlpool Corp.'s appliance factory east of Quebec City worked their last shift on Thursday, two years after the company announced its closure.

Production at the Montmagny plant, which was founded in 1867 before having several owners, is being transferred to the United States and Mexico. The factory was the town's biggest employer for more than a century.

Michigan-based Whirlpool, which calls itself the world's leading manufacturer and marketer of major home appliances, said the Montmagny site was no longer efficient.

Earlier this week, Whirlpool announced it would inject $1 million into an investment fund to help create jobs in the region.

The original Montmagny plant was founded by Amable Belanger, who began by making plows and cooking pots. In 1907 it launched into the making of its famous wood- and coal-burning Belanger kitchen stoves, the centre of French-Canadian homes.

After expanding into electric ranges in 1954, the plant was bought in the 1960s by the Admiral company which added refrigerators and freezers to its product line. It was taken over by Inglis, then by Whirlpool.

Whirlpool has annual sales of more than $11 billion US, 68,000 employees and nearly 50 manufacturing and technology research centres around the globe.

The company markets Whirlpool, KitchenAid, Brastemp, Bauknecht, Consul and other brand names in more than 170 countries. It is also the principal supplier to Sears, Roebuck and Co. of home appliances under the Kenmore brand name.


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