Truro’s Titans of Industry exhibit opens at museum

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A new display at the Colchester Historeum includes photos, artifacts and information on a family considered to be one of the town’s industrial leaders for many years.

Carol Ann Naugle was one of the community members who stopped by the Colchester Historeum for the opening of the exhibit on the Lewis family. She stands next to a display about hosiery made by Lewis Ltd. 

The exhibit titled “The Lewis Family: Truro’s Titans of Industry” opened on Saturday and several community members showed for a glimpse into the past.

“My sister and I came to learn more about the history of Truro,” said Bible Hill resident Carol Ann Naugle. “I’ve learned some new things today. I’m amazed at how much the Lewis family did. I come to the museum all the time because there’s always something interesting here.”

Joan Free, a granddaughter of Frank Lewis, learned a lot about the family through her grandfather’s notes.

“He was a meticulous record keeper,’ she said. “He kept notes on everything. I was six when he passed away but I remember the time we spent with him at Shortt’s Lake and he loved it there.”

He noted that he was the first president of the Truro Rotary Club and had been a president of the Truro Golf Club.

George Lewis, a son of Charles Lewis, also attended the opening. He remembers his father as being very sales oriented.

The Eastern Cap Co was founded in 1904 by his grandfather George, Jim Coulson, Warren Ogilvie and George Stuart. It was on the corner of Willow, Prince and Kind Streets but in 1907 relocated to Court St. In 1910 Eastern Shirt Ltd was added as a subsidiary. George later bought out some of his partners.

The J Lewis and Sons Peg and Last Factory employed many people in Stewiacke, making items such as clothes pegs and shoe pegs (used to fasten the sole to the shoe). Factory houses were built and a factory whistle was blown at 5 am to wake people for work, at 7 am to let them know it was time to begin working, at lunch time and at the end of the day. The last of the company houses were demolished in 1960.

During the 1920’s George, unhappy with the rates being charged by Chambers Electric, began producing his own power.

After World War l felt hats were very popular and the company had about 200 factory employees, as well as travelling representatives. During the 1930’s new products were added and there were about 500 employees. In 1936 the name Eastern Hat and Cap Manufacturing Co was changed to Lewis Ltd.

During the early 1940’s, with fuel being rationed and a shortage of vehicles, the company sent a station wagon or truck to pick up some of the employees living in rural areas.

Lewis Ltd eventually produced hats, caps, hosiery, shirts (including some for the military) and yarn for knitting. The company employed as many as 1000 people at times.

“I worked for the family for about 20 years,’ said Bible Hill resident Harry Lynds. “I used to work in the knitting room making socks.

“This exhibit brings back a lot of memories. I remember the old factory where the Superstore is now. I chose to work nights for a while because I was young then and had other things I wanted to do during the day.”

The exhibit can be seen at the Colchester Historeum at 29 Young St. Winter hours are 10 am to 4 pm Tuesday to Friday.

 

 

Organizations: Truro Rotary Club, Truro Golf Club, Eastern Cap Co Eastern Shirt Cap Manufacturing Co

Geographic location: Bible Hill, Stewiacke

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