I attended on Saturday and was pleased to see about 50 people there for the show and a history talk by Sonia Lewis from the KPL.
The industrial setting provides a dramatic backdrop for the work of many diverse artists and it gave the public a first peek into these buildings which are being cleaned up and converted into office space. Click on any of the images for a larger picture.
On Saturday Sonia Lewis, CEO of the KPL, gave a talk on the history of the buildings. The original building was constructed as a piano factory and that gave way to a leather company. The buildings grew and prospered for 61 years as the home of several rubber factories (Canadian Consolidated Rubber, Goodrich and eventually Uniroyal). Much of the history was shown through company photos and newsletters that have been been preserved in the KPL’s Grace Schmidt room.
Through Ms. Lewis’s insightful talk we learned that Kitchener was known as the “rubber capital of Canada” and that the “Nauga is ugly but his vinyl hide is beautiful“! Towards the end of rubber’s tenure in Kitchener Dominion Rubber changed its name to Uniroyal because they were diversifying their manufacturing and wanted the name to move away from the single product association.
Schmidt ended with a fairly short history of Collins and Aikmen. By 1981 Uniroyal was making only automotive acoustic equipment in the building and it was eventually sold to Collins and Aikmen in 1996. By 2005 C&A had filed for bankruptcy.
The MHBPNA Blog congratulates Sonia Lewis on presenting an insightful and informative talk with many great photos from the glory days of rubber and manufacturing. The KPL does have some photographs online but many of the ones in the presentation are still under copyright so you would have to go to the Grace Schmidt room in the library to view them.
After this talk we were treated to a tour of the buildings, but those photos will have to wait for another blog entry……..