Largest plant and museum collection
Big factory, big exhibit. “I worked at Domtar, and I don’t mind saying that Courtaulds was bigger,” said the Cornwall Community Museum’s Don Smith.
The Courtaulds textile factory closed its doors in Cornwall 25 years ago, but it lives on in a fairly big way at the museum.
The museum has hundreds of photos and quite a few Courtaulds artifacts. In fact, of all the displays and exhibits at the facility in Lamoureux Park, nothing tops it.
“It’s our largest collection,” said Smith, in charge of media relations for the museum. “Various people have contributed, but much of our Courtaulds collection is thanks to a former (SD&G Historical Society) board member, Ransom Ledoux, who worked there.
“The bulk of the artifacts we have are thanks to him.”
In fact, the museum has a Courtaulds exhibit that’s currently available for viewing, one that’s timed to the 25th anniversary of the final closing door at the factory.
“It’s a two-month display, but it (will likely be extended into) the spring,” Smith said.
Courtaulds won’t be forgotten at the museum in 2018, by any stretch. A long-planned major theme/exhibit for next year, Smith noted, is Cornwall’s industrial transition from natural to synthetic textiles (the Cotton Mills to Courtaulds).
“By the summer we’ll be right in the thick of (the new exhibit),” Smith said.
That Courtaulds, or much of it, through photos and artifacts, has been preserved and is available for public viewing, puts a smile on Smith’s face.
“In Cornwall’s history, it’s rare that we have a collection this size,” he said. “Often, artifacts are discarded.”
It was early last fall when the museum launched its new Toronto Paper/Howard Smith/ Domtar paper mill exhibit, marking 10 years since the Domtar mill closed.
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This photo provided by the Cornwall Community Museum shows Courtaulds employees in front of the plant in 1935.
The Cornwall Community Museum's Don Smith, with a photo of a worker operating box spinning machines on the second floor of No. 1 Mill, circa 1924.
This photo provided by the Cornwall Community Museum shows an aerial view of the various Courtaulds plants, ca. 1965. The hydro substation at the bottom right and former office building are all that remain.