The Textile Industry in Magog:
Corner-Stone of our History
One of the first industries established along the Magog River, in a hamlet called the Outlet, was a wool factory, founded in 1825 by an American named Joseph Atwood. Like the community taking roots here, the venture seemed quite modest. Purchased in 1845 by the Magog Manufacturing Co., a local enterprise, the small industry, hiring only around twenty workers, ceased its activities when destroyed by fire in 1857.
In 1877, (espace) the arrival of the railroad in Magog brought forward the idea of launching a new industrial project that promised to give a major impulse to the development of the Magog economy. Once more, it was the textile industry that inspired a small group of prominent promotors such as the industrialist William Hobbs, and Alvin H. Moore, one of the most influencial businessmen of the community.
Considering that the textile industry is flourishing in Canada, it benefited from the protectionnist tariff promised by the 1879 Tory government’s National Policy. Since many cotton mills were established, the managers of the Magog Textile & Print Co., founded in 1883, conceived a quite different approach : the construction of a plant that specialized in the dyeing and printing of cotton. It is in Magog, in July 1884, that a piece of cotton was printed for the first time.
With caution, the administrators of the Magog Textile & Print Co. decided to implant a spinning-mill in Magog. It started its activities in 1888. At first, it generated about a hundred jobs that, altogether with the 150 jobs of the printing branch, rapidly made textile the main catalyst of growth of the regional economy.
The close association between Magog, which became the Village of Magog in 1888, and its main plant, lasted over a century. In fact, the economic situation of the community was directly linked to its factories that, in periods of uncertainty, continued to thrive under the management of the Dominion Cotton Mills (1889-1905), followed by the Dominion Textile. The latter, at the time of its foundation in 1905, provided jobs for more than a thousand Magog citizens, and more than twice as many around the Second World War. Although not always easy, the collaboration between the town officials and the plant administrators also helped setting up infrastructures, such as the electrical network which contibuted to the progress of the community.
It’s only during the 1960’s and 1970’s that the identity of Magog, a typical single-industry milltown, shifts. Tourism, services and the industrial park brought on a diversification of the economy, desired for a long time, to compensate for the slowing pace of the textile industry. Many factors, such as new technologies and international competition, had a negative influence on the textile industry. By 1990, the number of textile workers had decreased to about one thousand. That period is also marked by changes of ownership.
The uncertain future of the textile industry was not a passing phenomenon and it lasted until the end of the 20th century. By the early 2000’s, it became clear that the cotton industry was doomed. One hundred and twenty-five years after the printing of the first piece of calico (cotton cloth), the textile enterprise, after overcoming many difficulties and facing a gloomy future, seems more than ever to be near the end.