Business,  News

The Excelsior Knitting Factory

Excelsior Knitting Company advertisement, Brussels Post, 1906.

Here’s a good story folks! Hats off to one of our favorite local columnists, David Yates.

We very much enjoy his weekly historical columns in the Signal-Star chain of newspapers. A recent column highlighted the history and achievements of the former Excelsior Knitting Factory, located in downtown Brussels. Bravo, but why is this important?

Well… you might not know it, but the factory was located smack dab on the very same spot that Community Futures Huron now sits. We thought that was pretty cool and worth sharing with our audience. And it also explains why I keep seeing ghosts around here. ;-D

Here’s an excerpt from the article by Yates:

“The Excelsior Knitting Company was not only one of the largest employers in Brussels, it was also unique because its labour force was mostly female. For over 30 years, the Brussels knitting factory provided women with a means to earn a living outside of the home.

As early as 1881, the Huron Signal reported that Brussels was negotiating to entice an investor to establish “a woolen and knitting factory” in the village. Their efforts were crowned with success when George Howe opened a woollen mill in 1884 on the corner of Mill and Turnberry streets. An article in the June 1888 Brussels Post noted that the mill took in wool from as far away as Port Burwell and spun it into “blankets, woolen goods, tweeds” of a “very superior quality.” Yet, the mill struggled financially and had a difficult time finding a reliable workforce due to frequent shutdowns.

In 1897, another attempt was made to start a Brussels knitting factory. This attempt fared better, as in 1898 the Post reported that the “knitting factory, with its 35 hands, will in a few days have seven agents on the road selling its manufactures.”

In 1899, an addition was built on to the original knitting factory with the “old and new blocks being bricked together so that it will look like a new building.”

In May 1900, the Post boasted that the knitting factory had a staff of 75 workers. This woolen mill operated until 1904 when the 46-year-old American-born entrepreneur Jonathan T. Wood purchased the knitting mill after its owners defaulted on their mortgage…”

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