Tag Archives: employees

When I was 17- The Kitten- Glenayr Knitting Mills Reunion

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When I was 17- The Kitten- Glenayr Knitting Mills Reunion

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I’ve never gone to a reunion before; not even high school, because honestly I’m always afraid that there’s going to be some ‘Carrie’-like incident that I won’t be able to deal with.

My life began in Cowansville, Quebec, a mill town similar to most places in rural Lanark County. The last time I personally saw or spoke with any of my old friends was years ago, although I retain a relationship with some of them in my Cowansville High School group on Facebook.

I was honoured to be part of the former Glenayr Knitting mill employees reunion on Monday. There were a few who had not seen each other since the plant closed down in 2000 I’m sure. Most of the employees were women as it was pretty well the only job available in the area in those days. Some at the reunion on August 7th at the Lanark & District Museum still had their original tools of the trade (scissors etc) from their former jobs whether it was knitting, dyeing fabric or sewing.

 

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Photo by Linda Seccaspina at the Lanark & District Museum

 

Was the reunion a sense of nostalgia or just reminders of what had transpired years ago? No matter how wonderful and interesting the lives of the former employees from Tatlock, Watson’s Corners, McDonald’s Corners and even Carleton Place have been, there was just something endearing about this work reunion of the staff that most went home with a pay cheque of 45 cents an hour.

In 1953 the mill was the backbone of Lanark, and some still called it the Clyde Woolen Mill. David Markle made lots of improvements in the old grist mill, with new machinery initially making men’s woolen socks, blankets, and motor rugs. In 1945 the Markle brothers bought the large two storey stone building on the main street by the Clyde River and used it as a store. The Kitten Factory  at one time had a payroll of over $200,000 that turned over three times in local businesses before it left the village in the year 2000.

 

 

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Photo by Linda Seccaspina at the Lanark & District Museum

 

I am sure some of them talked late into the day on Monday where they  laughed, cried, and reveled in nostalgia. I was surprised at the intensity of their bonding; perhaps it was the acute awareness of how much everything had changed. At the soul level they were still the same people they always were, and seeing them all together reminded me of how important it is to stay connected.

 

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Lanark Era Photo–Gena Gibson

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Photo by Linda Seccaspina at the Lanark & District Museum

 

Feryn Donaldson was still Miss Kitten of Glenayr Knitting on Monday with her original 60s sash. She was voted in by her fellow employees and got an outfit to wear for special events as long as it was back by 5. When asked if she became the “belle of the ball” of Lanark Village after she won her crown she laughed and said she was already married with two children at that point.

I doubt if there’s anyone among us that can’t remember that first day of work, and sometimes we reflect on the people we were crazy about, and some we weren’t so crazy about. These women still remembered the muffins brought by some to work, perms that were given in the washrooms, and the fact that a few actually met their future spouses at that plant.  As one woman said:

” I moved to Lanark in 1947 and most of the people that worked in the mill became my friends. I lived here, my family lived here, and when the time comes I will die here.”

Catching up with the past and seeing your  former friends and co-workers reminds us that your life story is not over. The final chapter has not been written and we are still writing new endings to our lives. That very thing happened at the Glenayr Knitting Mill Reunion on George Street in the Village of Lanark– as a forever friend is really someone who knows all your best stories and lived them with you. In the end you always go back to the people that were there in the beginning.

 

When I was seventeen, it was a very good year
It was a very good year for small town girls
And soft summer nights
We’d hide from the lights
On the village green
When I was seventeen

 

 

historicalnotes

 

Jo Camelon— Of the 11 siblings of the Camelon family. I believe 9 worked at some time in the different departments of kitten mill. Thank you for sharing

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Photos by Linda Seccaspina at the Lanark & District Museum

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How Much is that Kitten Sweater in the Window?

Stories from the Old Kitten Mill

Down by the Old Kitten Mill

Linda’s Mail Bag– Do You Have any Info on my Blanket?

You’re from the Village of Lanark You Say?

 

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CLIPPED FROM
The Weekly British Whig
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
29 Mar 1920, Mon  •  Page 6

Memories of Findlays 1972 – “They’re Proud, Independent, and Resigned to the Loss of their Jobs”

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Memories of Findlays 1972 – “They’re Proud, Independent, and Resigned to the Loss of their Jobs”

 

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Photo from the Ottawa Citizen 1972 thanks to the kindness of Marion Giles McNeely

 

May 20 1972

“I just can’t get it through my thick head why they are closing a plant equipped to produce like this one.” Don McNeely who had worked at Findlays for 33 years.

“It’s always been a good life here- I don’t know where I am going to get a job-there are a few possibilities.” Mr. Lowe

There were only about employee 125 cards left beside the time clock where there were once 200. The protests of unions, the public meetings, the anxious intervening of politicians, and the uproar in the House of Commons are finished. And so is Findlays.

“We were going to get another deck, but that’s out”, joked one man looking at the worn out one.–anonymous worker

 

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Photo from the Ottawa Citizen 1972 thanks to the kindness of Marion Giles McNeely

 

“There’s a sentimental attachment to the place and to fellow workers but no one is going around crying”.–anonymous worker who had been at Findlays for 16 years.

“They’re proud, independent,and resigned to the loss of their jobs. It’s management’s democratic right to close down the plant.”–anonymous worker

“I did some bricklaying work once, but it took forever to do the calculations.”-Milt who never finished Grade 6 and planned to return to school.

 

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Photo from the Ottawa Citizen 1972 thanks to the kindness of Marion Giles McNeely

 

“The only jobs you can get are ones nobody else wants. Who wants to work for $1.85 an hour.”-Alfred, an immigrant who had worked for two years at Findlays. (Findlay salary was $2.16)

“There is some possibility that the enamelling department could continue to do custom work, but we don’t know where the money would come from to finance the operation.”- Gerry 14 year veteran of Findlays

“It’s almost as if they bled this company dry to keep the other going.”  (Montmagny Plant) Gerry 14 year veteran of Findlays

 

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Photo from the Ottawa Citizen 1972 thanks to the kindness of Marion Giles McNeely

Don McNeely and Gordon Lowe

 

Mr. McNeely was considering a job in Smiths Falls but he didn’t know if he would take it because he didn’t want  to do all the highway driving.

“There isn’t much work here in town and I don’t want to travel”.–Woman who worked in the electrical assembly department for 16 years.

“Maybe things will get better–we’ll have a big party at the end. But, it’s going to be terrible not working.”– another Findlay veteran.

The prospect of years filled with comforting routine finally faded at Findlay’s and all that is left is an empty field.

Found by Bill Russell… thank you

 

historicalnotes

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The Findlay Brothers buy the land on High Street–Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 19 Jan 1901, Sat, Page 4

 

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Clipped from The Ottawa Journal20 Aug 1947, WedPage 20

 

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Bill Russell posted this— Yes Linda these were made at the plant on the town line. The pucks were presented to the CJOH No Stars Hockey team at a charity game held at C.P. Arena March Our team was The Findlay Outcasts. Lol

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Photo Bill Russell

Llew Lloyd– Before the Findlay brand of pans were marketed, the men in the moulding shop used to make them on the side for home use. There are still some of them around. They are unlabeled and don’t have the same finishing as the ones produced for sale to the general public .

Bill Russell– There are also some that were reproduced at the Findlay plant on Townline that can be identified by a ditto gun label gun that was attached to the pattern prior to moulding. This was a date code. 

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 Deputy Mayor Jerry Flynn came to our Christmas Open House and found his father Clifford in this painting of workers at Findlay’s Limited! You never know what (or who) you’ll find at your local museum! Visit us soon!
 
 

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Clipped from The Ottawa Journal29 Aug 1934, WedPage 7

 

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Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum–‎Findlay Plaque Unveiling 2014– Have you seen the Findlay Plaque on the old Patterson building across from the town hall?

Clipped from The Ottawa Journal,  23 Jul 1974, Tue,  First Edition,  Page 2

 

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Photo Tom Edwards–Karen Lloyd said: Lil McLaren in the striped blouse

 

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Have you seen the Findlay movie at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum? During WWII, a movie was filmed inside the foundry depicting the war department. The war department was created to produce ammunition boxes and grenade castings. The movie is special in the fact that it captured the large number of women employed atFindlay’s working in the war department.– Photo from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum #strongwomen

 

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)

relatedreading

 

Looking for Names- Findlay Foundry

The Inner Remains of the Findlay Foundry

From the Belly of the Findlay Plant….

Someday my Prince Will Buy Me a Cinderella Stove

Findlay’s 101 and a Personal Confession

Where Did you Learn to Swear in Carleton Place?

Funky Soul Stew was Once Cooking in Carleton Place

 

Cooking with Findlay’s — Christine Armstrong’s Inheritance and Maple Syrup Recipe

Commercial Centre Planned for Findlay Site

Walter and John Armour and A Findlay Stove

The Findlay Foundry Ltd. Closes—- The Video

 

 

 

CLIPPED FROM
The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
16 May 1964, Sat  •  Page 1