Posted by: Cornwall Community Museum | June 9, 2015

Artifact of the Week. Jacquard woven image of the Canada Mill, Cornwall, Ontario.


scan0001This jacquard woven likeness of Canada Cottons Manufacturing Company’s Canada Mill, located in Cornwall Ontario was woven at the mill in 1887.  Designed by Emil Dick, there are several examples of this piece.  This particular example was given to Mr. Jamieson, manager of the Cornwall Mill.

At the time this was woven the Canada Mill’s weave shed was the largest in the British Empire.scan0004

A postcard showing men and women working the the weave shed.

Apart from being the largest shed in the Empire it was also the first industrial facility in Canada to be electrically lighted in April 1883.

“The honour of turning on the power was reserved for Thomas Edison.  A tense silence swept over the crowd, (in attendance) as he waved his hand as a signal for the lowering of the gas lights.  Little by little, the room was enveloped in darkness.  Edison pulled the switch.  A momentary pause, a breathless suspense and the gentle humming sound of machinery broke the silence as a myriad of tiny glass globes flicked into a golden glow growing stronger and stronger – until brilliance.  The gasping crowd stood back in awe, gazing in wonderment at the marvelous spectacle before them.  Then, all at once, the din of the wild cheering shook the rafter of the enclosure.”

“Just at that moment, a little technical difficulty arose.  In their eagerness to make the lighting as brilliant as possible, the electricians allowed the voltage to build up, burning out many globes shortly after they illuminated, and during the excitement Mr. Hitchcock and a troop of fellow workers scurried about the room with stepladders and baskets of globes, replacing those that failed.  But the experiment had been a success.”

Excerpt from “The lights are on!”  M.J. Hitchcock, R. Hitchcock’s son, 1943 Cornwall “Standard-Freeholder.scan0005


Canada Cottons, Cornwall, late 1940s.  The Dundas Mill is on the right; the original Canada Mill in the centre, and the weave shed hugs the banks of the St. Lawrence on the right.  The Company operated in Cornwall from 1872 until 1959.  Only part of the Dundas Mill remain, the original Canada Mill was destroyed by fire and the Weave Shed is being converted into offices and condos.

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