Tannning Hides at Coleman’s Corners

The Tanning Business at Coleman’s Corners – March 7, 1850- 

As written in the Brockville Recorder of 1850

The editor had been out to Coleman’s Corners, now known as Lyn, and in the issue of this date gives his impressions of the place as follows:–

This place, to appearance, has little to attract the attention of a stranger, unless it be a feeling that there is something picturesque in the scenery around it. But let him follow that small rippling stream scarce deep enough to carry on its bosom the little rustic knife made boat of a happy urchin, and the stranger will be led to a building low enough in the front, but pretty deep in the rear, which thanks to the Messrs. Coleman, is the most celebrated and extensive tanning establishment in the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville.

The Messrs. Coleman commenced in 1938 with a small grist mill. In 1841 they built a sawmill, and soon after they began the business of tanning sole leather. In order to note the progress made in this department we may state that in 1844 they turned out 1,100 hides; in 1845 they turned out 1,200; in 1846, 2,000; in 1847, 2800; in 1848, 2,500; in 1849, 6,000; and for the present year they calculate manufacturing no less than 7,500, all of which is consumed within the province, the raw hides being what are termed Spanish, and imported from the United States, some of them weighing when manufactured and ready for market 45 lbs.

To show the anxiety of the proprietors to improve this branch of their work, we man mention that for the purpose of heating the liquid they procured and fitted up three copper heaters at an expense of $300. each, in warming of which about 500 cords of wood are used in the course of the year. At present their stock of bark amounts to 3,500 cords, which they calculate will only serve for eighteen months.

The establishment contains 80 vats and nearly one mile of pump log leading to and from the various places where it is required. There are two hide mills, and a bark grinding mill, capable of grinding from fifteen to twenty cords a day.

There are employed by the Messrs. Coleman, one way and another, from thirty to forty men, whose wages amount in one year from £1,500. to £1,750.

We have stated that the supply of water is small. It is led from an artificial pond, where, generally, the proprietors contrive to husband a three months supply, and was this supply to fail, the consequences would be disastrous to all interested. Great care is therefore required to ‘waste not’ in order that they may ‘want not’. For this purpose a small stream is made to work the rolling machine in the first instance; from there it is carried to the bark mill, which it drives, working two pumps at the same time when required. It is also used for cleaning out the leeches, which it does at less expense than by manual labor.

Of the quality of the leather manufactured we need say nothing, the success attending their establishment being a sufficient evidence of its excellence, and we understand their sales last year amounted to £10,000.

Were we to enter into an argument on the advantage of local manufacturing in the country, we would not ask a better starting point than Coleman’s Corners, and the following list of articles consumed by them in the course of the past year, the produce of the country, will show how much the farmer is interested in the establishment of manufactures throughout the province. Messrs. Coleman used during the last year:

2,500 cords bark at 12s6d – £1,562.10

500 cords wood at 5s – £125.00

500 barrels flour at 25s – £625.00

50 barrels pork at 50s £125.00

40 tons hay at 40s – £80.00

1,600 bushel oats at 1s,3d – £100.00

300 bushel corn at 2s,6d – £37.10

total – £2,655.00

This does not include the consumption of eggs, poultry, roots, vegetables, etc., which of themselves would amount to a considerable sum in the course of the year. People may tell of ‘ruin and decay’ and the progress of the United States, but we would advise all who doubt the fact of Canadian progress to ponder well what is contained in the notice, come and visit Messrs. Coleman’s establishment, and then ‘go and do likewise.”

Taken from the Recorder as published in the book “Landmarks of Leeds and Grenville”

Unfortunately no photos exists of this tanning operation at the old Lyn Mills