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The Kamik brand

At the end of the 1960s, General Footwear specializes more and more in winter boots, specifically, “après-ski” sealskin boots. A fashion statement that probably rekindles memories for a lot of you, right?

It is during those years, more precisely in 1967, that Gilles Tétreault leaves the Joseph Papin Ltée factory to go work for General Footwear. Here he is explaining what motivated him to leave the business after 17 years of employment with the Papin family.

The move to Lafayette (captions available in both FR and EN) – watch this video with the transcript (EN)

The picture shows the cover page of the Kamik boots 1983 promotional catalog. We see people assembled at a base camp at the foot of Mount Everest.

1983 Kamik catalog

Like all other Contrecœur factories, up until that point General Footwear is crafting generic shoes.  In 1976, the creation of the Kamik trademark, an Inuktitut word meaning boot, allows the company to carve out a place in an increasingly competitive market. Throughout the 70s, the factory is the site of major transformations. In 1971, thanks to a $300,000 investment, the factory is expanded and modernized.

In this picture, we see two workers operating cutting presses. They are Marcel Gagné on the left and Martial Gervais on the right. In the background to the left, we catch a glimpse of Gilles Tétreault, Trimming Department Foreman, sitting at his desk.

Trimming department, around 1971

A second expansion takes place in 1979. Currently, the company operates under the name of Genfoot Inc. and employs 200 workers in Contrecœur. Gilles Tétreault tells us about this significant transition in the company’s history.

The Lafayette factory (captions available in both FR and EN) – watch this video with the transcript (EN)

Georges Tétreault, Gilles’ cousin, worked for the company for 52 years. Initially hired as an apprentice, he climbed the ladder over the years to eventually become General Manager of the factory in 1960.  Mr. Tétreault also witnessed numerous technological innovations in addition to contributing to some personally. It is thanks to him that a three-needle sewing machine, very useful for manufacturing Kamik boots, was marketed by the Puritan company.

In this picture, we see operator Lucie Berthiaume working on a Puritan, three-needle sewing machine. She is crafting a Kamik winter boot.

Operator Lucie Berthiaume in 1986

In this picture taken inside the factory, we see Georges Tétreault, the factory’s General Manager, accompanied on the left by Mgr. Bernard Hubert, bishop of the Saint-Jean diocese, and on the right by abbot Jean-Louis Yelle, the parish priest. Mgr. holds a boot in his hands while Mr. Tétreault appears to be providing explanations.

Georges Tétreault