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The shoe at the heart of the village

The picture shows the town of Contrecœur. It was likely taken from the Lafayette factory roof. In the background, we see the Joseph Papin ltée factory as well as the luxurious house built by Joseph Papin II. In the foreground, we see houses and businesses on St-Antoine and des Manufactures streets.

The town of Contrecœur

Located in a rural setting, Contrecœur distinguishes itself by the number of factories it contains.  Contrecœur residents who have lived there for generations will tell you,  “At one time, everybody worked in the shoe industry.”  During the good years, factories were the bread and butter of close to half the town’s population.  This exceptional situation is mostly the result of the contributions of two families: the Papins and the Cooks.

We can thank the Papin family for establishing Joseph Papin ltée, Leo’s Shoe Reg’d and Popular Shoe & Co. Ltée. For its part, the Cook family, who acquired Albert Charron’s factory in the early 1930s, remained an integral segment of Contrecœur’s landscape until 2004 and left their mark on the town’s history as well as its inhabitants.  Over the years, the Cook factory changed its name, but in the heart of Contrecœur’s townspeople, it remains now and forever associated to its very first name: Lafayette Shoe Manufacturing Company Limited.

The picture, taken in front of the factory, shows Albert Charron factory employees in 1928. They number close to a hundred: men, women and children. We see the brick wall and large windows in the background.

Charron factory employees, 1928

Although shoe factories played an essential role in the municipality’s development, they were far from the only regional attraction.  Léopold Hamel tells us what made Contrecœur stand out from other towns in the 1950s.

The town of Contrecœur (captions available in both FR and EN) – View this video with a transcript (EN)