(August 7, 2007)
An original skate blade fabricated by the Starr Manufacturing Co. was found July 18, 2007 by archeology student Kathryn Stewart of Fall River. Stewart, who is entering her second year of archeology at the University of Calgary, is part of a team that is locating and uncovering key items from the Shubenacadie Canal and the Starr Manufacturing plant site in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
“From an archive point of view, it is definitely a thrill to find such an item on the site of the manufacturing plant and it certainly adds value to that blade,” says Skate Canada’s archivist Emery Leger. “More exciting now, as the digging goes on, is to find out if there were more identical blades or if that one was just a sample, which would represent an even bigger find.”
All items recovered during the three-week dig will become property of the Nova Scotia Museum. The Starr property was purchased by the Halifax Regional Municipality in 1998 and the site will become a public park.
John Starr established Starr Manufacturing in 1861 in Dartmouth, on Prince Albert Road, as a nail factory over the top of the canal turbine chamber. Between 1864, when John Starr and John Forbes began to manufacture skates, and the cessation of skate making at Starr in 1938, the company produced an estimated 11 million pairs of skates. Many found their way to the far corners of the world.
Although the factory was actually in Dartmouth, Starr marked each pair of skates, STARR M’F’G Co MAKERS HALIFAX N.S. CANADA. These skates were so popular that competitors often labeled their knockoffs Halifax Pattern.
The Prince Albert Road plant closed in 1996 and was demolished in 2000 after a fire destroyed it two years earlier.
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A child’s pair of Acme skates
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The Starr Manufacturing mark on the blades of Starr skates
Starr packaged their skates in boxes that claimed,
“Made in Canada, Used All Over The World”
Photos: Yvonne Butorac