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Unravelling the Yarn: The Textile Industry in Arnprior

Next to the lumber trade, textile production was the most dominant and enduring industry in Arnprior. It lasted almost 130 years from its inception in the 1870’s to its closure in 1996 with the demise of the Kenwood Mills factory. An hour west of Ottawa on the Trans-Canada Highway, well served by both the Canadian Pacific and Canadian National Railways, and located at the juncture of two major rivers, Arnprior was an ideal location to foster this major industry.

It began with Philip Dontigny who opened a textile mill in Arnprior in 1874. After a series of partnerships and a long period of solo ownership by him and his son, the business closed in 1929.

By 1914, James Griffith saw further opportunity and opened the Arnprior Felt Company in an abandon factory on William Street and there started an 80 year-long legacy. The company changed hands between 1914 and 1918, and the Huycks, an established company from New York state, brought in a company that would  affect Arnprior’s future in a lasting  way.

Bringing to life the stories of employees, exhibiting products, and archives and highlighting the connection of an industry to current residents of the community, this story brings Arnprior’s textile history alive. From the role of military procurement to the downfall of one of the town’s largest employers, the pages that follow tell the history of this industry which created a legacy and stabilizing influence in  a rural Ontario community.

Start reading the story

Curator: Janet Carlile
Research and Compilation: Emily Croft
Editors: Janet Carlile, Adrienne Soucy, Anita Brown
Translators: Dalila Martinak-Catterill, Justine Routhier, Marie Maude Polychuck
Collections: Elizabeth Richard
Marketing: Justine Routhier, Sadie Badour
Photography: Emily Croft, Elizabeth Richard, Dylan Bose