I was lucky enough to know Latif Crowder when he put in all our kitchen cupboards which are still standing today. He and his wife Rachel were amazing people.
1980 — People of Carleton Place
Two summers ago local residents Latif Crowder and Evan Gamblin started producing a unique line of Dutch-designed spinning wheels under licence. Sales have been good. Now the company has taken on a new partner and is expanding its scope to include almost all areas of custom woodworking. ‘
The new partner is Bob St. Cyr who brings a solid background in furniture design to the fledgling CGS Woodwrights Limited which only last month moved from a cramped 350-square-foot shop to a new location in the Canadian Wool Growers Co-operative building.
The new shop has more than 4,000 square feet of space which is rapidly filling with the tools needed for a full range of high-quality woodwork. Once the commitment was made to turn the part-time business into full-time work, production of the louet line of spinning wheels soared. Last year total output was about 300 units; half that many were made last month alone.
The Dutch line of spinning machines probably won’t find favor with those looking for a spinning wheel as a piece of furniture to plop in the comer of the living room. Instead of the traditional spoked wheel, the louet models feature a solid plywood one. Stays circular “I was in a store just the other day where they were selling spoked wheels, and already they were starting to come unglued,” said Crowder. “The plywood wheel stays circular instead of becoming an oval over a period of time.”
What is amazing is that the company has been unable to find suitable plywood in Canada and has been forced to import 13-ply birch plywood from the Soviet Union. Canadian plywood makers used softwoods such as poplars for inside plies, and unfortunately, this is where the wheel needs strength.
The Carleton Place firm is experimenting with a luan plywood made in Canada from imported veneers but is anxious to find a stable, suitable Canadian supply. Most of the hardware is imported from the Dutch licensor to take advantage of large volume purchasing power but the rest of the spinning wheel is manufactured locally from beautiful maple.
Recently the company sold Heritage Silversmiths in Perth on the idea of producing silver storage chests, a new line which CGA Woodwrights hope to produce at a rate of 600-1,000 a month. They hope to start exporting the chests to the United States within a year. CGS Woodwrights also has sights set on high quality custom wood furniture to meet architect’s specifications. “One of the big things lacking in Canada is good wood design because it’s really not taught much,” says St. Cyr.
The company has invested another $80,000 in the expanding company, almost all of it in new equipment. Soon to be delivered is a veneering machine which will open the custom veneering market in the area. Gamblin, a former computer professional who keeps close tabs on the . financial end of the operation, believes employment will grow to about 15 within the next three years. On this basis the company is seeking help from the federal and provincial governments. Not all the equipment is in place yet and the building interior still needs renovations but once everything is complete the company will hold an open house probably within a month to show government officials and the local community the kind of business that can be built on wood.
It started with a spinning wheel and love and respect for the beauty of finely-worked wood. The spin-offs are starting to multiply.
The company sadly dissolved in 1982.
The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
06 Aug 1980, Wed • Page 3
Latif and Rachel are now in PEI, where they moved from Alberta shortly before the Covid business began.
He’s retired from custom cabinet work, enjoying himself designing and building interesting furniture.
Rachel is running a rape crisis centre.
Here is some of his work from a couple of years ago.