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Brantford Artisans' Village!
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Great reminiscences and comaraderie at The Cordage Open House on
Thank you to all who attended this very special get-together!
Recollections of Brantford Cordage
~ Past Employees Reminisced! ~
What a great night! It was heartwarming to hear the stories told on November 7th when past employees of the historical Brantford Cordage factory, their family members and other interested parties came together at the site where workers had devoted a number of years of their lives working with one of Brantford's 'Big 15' manufacturers of the time. In fact, the Cordage was the largest producer of twine in the British Empire during at least part of its existence from the early 1900s to the later 1970s.
We did our best to get the word out to former employees to let them know about this event, having posted community notices online in the city newspapers, emailed many, sent notices to various organizations, posted on our website, personally invited those we knew of, and of course, through word of mouth. We would especially like to thank Charlene Nicholson for communicating with the past workers on our behalf!
A fabulous evening was enjoyed by the 75 or so who came out for this event, and we were very pleased when perhaps 30 workers and/or their family members joined us to share some special memories of their experiences and to reminisce about their lives while working at the Cordage. Only wonderful and glowing comments were given by these people regarding their years working at The Cordage, which once employed up to 800 in its heyday.
What a different world it was back then, when employment law was so barren, and yet workers loved their work. Every single person who spoke to the large group in attendance had endearing stories to tell, and obviously very fond memories of The Cordage and their working years there. Most who took the microphone in fact, reported they had never worked at a better place either before or after their term at The Cordage.
The event took place in unit 25 of the Artisans' Village located at 111 Sherwood Drive, a beautiful large brick building with great windows lining the top edge, and historically used to offload supplies from the CN rail immediately beside the building. Some of the workers brought pictures, samples of the products produced by the factory, tabletop displays, and slides.
The current owners showcased a number of photographs showing the progress made on the site to date in their efforts to recycle new life into this historical site and create a bustling hive of creativity. Jack Jackowetz loaned some of his fabulous artwork to display for the evening, highlighting different parts of the old buildings. The artwork was a clear reminder of how far we've already come, and there is much more in the works! Refreshments were served, and Howard Rotberg detailed his and Dalip Multani's long-term plans to turn this site into something special which Brantford can once again be proud of.
Earl Scarrow, now in his mid-nineties, started with the Cordage company as a labourer, and made his way to the top as General Manager. In those days, you could move up the ladder based on skill, experience, and work ethic. Still as dapper as can be, and proud to still be driving, the gentleman reminisced, and told the audience a little known fact of how one day the workers happened upon a large cistern, and after looking into it, they discovered there was a brewery on site. He said water was collected in the cistern from the eavestroughs. According to Scarrow, the brewery later moved across the river, and became known as Bixel Brewery.
Some ladies who had worked in The Cordage offices spoke to the group, saying how much they treasured their time working there. Another fellow told us of his years at The Cordage, and how he was the third last to leave when the company closed. He assisted with packing up the machinery, and traveling to Africa with the owners to help them set up a manufacturing facility there.
Our site's own Gino Mercante of Amjay Ropes & Twine, was also in attendance, telling us how he came to the company straight out of school, and after the company closed, he gained a few more years of experience before starting his own company in the rope business, which of course, is still in operation today on our site. It is the only remaining rope manufacturer left in the city.
Please see the photos below to get an overview of this heartwarming evening.