Skip to main content

The final years

In this picture, we see all Kamik manufacturing employees gathered in front of the factory to celebrate the business’s 100th anniversary. They number over a hundred, mainly women, and they all wear a white shirt. In the front, on the right-hand side, we see members of the management team.

Kamik 1898/1998

At the beginning of the 2000s, although business is going relatively well, the future of Lafayette is threatened. The problem Genfoot faces amounts to a simple equation: a pair of boots made in China costs less to make than a pair of boots made in Contrecœur. It comes finally down to market globalization and, more specifically, fierce Asiatic and emergent market competition that spells the end of Contrecœur’s shoe industry.

In February 2004, Genfoot Inc. closes the doors of its Contrecœur factory. 180 employees lose their jobs. A portion of Kamik boot and slipper manufacture is transferred to China, while the remainder continues to be crafted in their Montréal, Ontario (New Hamburg) and US (Littleton, NH) factories. To this day, a third generation of Cooks continues to manage the business’s operations whose headquarters are located in Montréal’s Lachine district.

The image is that of an article written by the journalist Patrick Turgeon, released in Les 2 Rives newspaper in January 2004. The full title is: La mondialisation du marché fait une autre victime: L’usine Genfoot cessera ses activités le 27 février. (Another Victim Falls to Market Globalization: Genfoot Factory will cease operating on February 27) Two pictures accompany the article. One was taken inside the factory and shows labourers at work. The other was taken outside the factory for the company’s 100th anniversary celebration. The employees are gathered in front of the plant.

Article about the closure of Genfoot (2004)

In an effort to preserve an iconic building of our industrial heritage, the City of Contrecœur purchases the old factory in 2017. For those who lived through the golden age of the shoe in Contrecœur, this structure remains “chez Lafayette ”. If only walls could speak…