Monday, January 30, 2012

Vintage Algonquin Park Maps.

Mark Rubino's website "Mark's Algonquin Park Sampler" chronicles his trips in our most famous forest. Such a great site filled with excellent trip logs, photo's, and these amazing Vintage Algonquin Park maps. Dating back to 1893, you can see that some of the lake might have different names than their current. I love how the detail becomes more and more as the years pass, and more and more lakes get added.  It is great seeing the maps of the time when train was the only way into the park. To read some great stories of this era, check out Ralph Bice's book "Along the Algonquin Trail".  These maps are free for use, and please mirror. Clicking on any picture brings you to Mark's download page, where all the maps are. They are full size and quite big.  There is even a great map with the "visitor info" on the back. what a classic read, tons of great old info (A week of canoeing for two with a guide - $79.00). Please take a full read of Mark's site, tons of great info if you are looking to see what a trip in Algonquin is like.  Thanks Mark.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Persol 3007-V.

Formed in 1917 by Guiseppe Ratti, and the name from the Italian phrase "For the Sun"  was originally started to make glasses for pilots and sports car drivers. You probably seen them most worn on old photos of Steve McQueen, and sporting them ever so perfectly. They Were the first eye wear company to create a flexible stem (arm), this system is called the Meflecto System, its really pretty neat.  They are also known for their silver arrow in the corners and the use of cellulose acetate as the main construction material, and the fact that they are still handmade in Italy. 

For the past two years I was wearing Ray-Ban Club-masters. When I bought them, my frames were made in Italy as well. Then on of the bolts that held the frame together stripped, and was replaces with a pair made in China. After a lengthy discussion with my optician, about how can Ray-Ban still charge the same amount for something made in China. he tried to find a older pair for me, but no luck. With  the New Year, new benefits and that means new glasses.  I saw these on their website and asked my optician to bring them in to try. They looked great, were light and they has really nice clip on green polarized sunglasses for the frame.  I am still getting use to my new prescription, but they look fantastic, and are of as we all know "of the highest quality".  I am sure you have seen the Persol "making of" video of the folding 714's, but here it is again. I can only assume my glasses were made with awesome jazz playing on the production floor. Fantastic stuff.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Kaufman Rubber - Sorel Boots

 This coming winter I will be heading out in these monsters. They are older Sorel Glacier boots. Guaranteed to keep your feet warm in -76*C, and made in Canada by the Kaufman Footwear Co. Sorel Boots and a couple other slipper and work boot brands were all umbrella-ed under the Kaufman Footwear/rubber Company. Founded by Jacob Kaufman in 1907, after being a part in the two original rubber factory in Kitchener and having a falling out from both. Jacob was persuaded by his son Alvin Kaufman, who had worked at one of the Rubber plants, to organize another rubber company. This new Kaufman plant opened in 1908 on the corner of King and Victoria Streets, the plant was about 4 acres large and employed 350 people.

Jacob passed in 1920, and his son A.R. Became president until 1964. Kaufman Rubber made rubber clothing for the natural resources industry, and also firefighting and the food industry. They also made footwear and gas masks for the Canadian Forces in both World Wars. During the 50's as imported rubber goods started to hit the mainstream markets, Kaufman dabbled in Synthetic footwear, leather work boots, and pioneered slush molding waterproof footwear in PVC. Eventually in 1959 the Sorel line was released and would become Kaufman's most popular line. During this time and right up until their bankruptcy they created the boots we all love and are making a come back today, like "Caribou", "Manitou, "The Crusader", "Glacier" among other intimidating names. In 1964, the company changed its name to Kaufman Footwear Limited, perhaps to reflect its diversity of products as the company was not entirely a rubber manufacturer any more. That year, A.R. Kaufman’s son William H. Kaufman became company president.  After A.R. Kaufman’s death in 1979 Kaufman Footwear became Kaufman Footwear, division of William H. Kaufman Inc. In 1997 Tom Kaufman, son of William H. Kaufman, was named president, and business was "as usual". A couple years, and a couple of warm winters later sales had dropped dramatically for this iconic brand.  In April 2000, the Red Wing Shoe Co., signed a letter of intent to purchase Kaufman Footwear. No purchase price or agreement details were given. On July 20, 2000, Kaufman Footwear of Kitchener, Ontario, went into financial receivership after having been in business for over 93 years of rubber and boot making service. Then in September 2000 the Sorel name became a division of Columbia Sportswear Company in Portland, Oregon which still markets the boot.  Although they have unfortunately moved all production Overseas to China, While they still make many of there "Heritage" boots, sadly they lack the true heritage of being still made in Canada. 

I found my boots on Kijiji, worn once. Any of the boots that were made in Canada are not hard to pick among the lots, As they all were marked numerous places to present that they were made here. Also Even though the Glaciers are the same design, you will notice that the "Sorel" label on the side of the boots now does not have Kaufman on it.  There are still plenty Canadian made Sorels around, and well worth seeking out. They made some of the best winter boots in the world.  And still hold up even if you can get them used.  Also FYI "Kamik", also a Canadian Pac boot brand still makes quite a few of the boots in Canada, and even have a Glacier replica.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Maine-ward bound.

In the coming months, I will be heading to Maine.  I will be spending a couple days in Portland, and I need your help. Any certain sites I need to check out. How about the shopping, is there a "vintage" area? any fantastic shops that need to be checked out.  What / where is the Hub of Portland? From what I have gathered Congress St. and Commercial Street? Shoot me a email or comment, any help would be great!

Thanks gang.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Romance of the Far Fur Country - HBC Film.

An documentary made in 1919, by order of HBC (Hudson Bay Company) to advertise the possibility of people settle in the north, and arctic. The Ship was the RMS Nascopie coming from Montreal, with two camera men on board to capture the as the title of the doc was called "The Romance of the Far Fur Country". They sailed the seas and walked the land for six months filming the rough landscape and the people who lived there, they captured everything HBC.  They caught footage of dogsledding, portages, running rapids, Inuits processing hides, unloading massive icebreakers, everything "daily life" for anyone connected to HBC. It ended up being used to celebrate HBC 250 year instead of the advertising of the North. When it was originally shown it was accompanied by a live orchestra, and played to full theaters. Shortly after its theater run it faded from existence, and in the 50's the mismatch reels where given to British Film Institute Archive, for safe keeping. In the 80's a safety copy was made and later "found" by Peter Geller, surprised that it had survived into the 21st century. The film was then recently transferred back to HBC in Canada for their archives, and is again now in 2012 being show across the country to full theatre houses. What I think is really amazing is that the film in 2012 is being shown to the ancestors of some of the people actually in the film.

The Original Article That I summarized. (Thanks Colin).

The Romance of the Far Fur Country site, with play times and locations, as well as more history on the project.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Klein Tools / Rite In The Rain Giveaway!

I attended a Industrial tool show today, Lots of people, Lots of great new products.  I was given a couple sets of these beautiful leather Klein Tools Coasters and "Rite in the Rain" Mini notebooks. I have a set of 6 coasters and one note book up for grabs.  Leave a comment below or send me a email at damnyak(at) Every person will get a number as I get them, then tomorrow evening at 9pm-ish I will randomly draw a winner/number using this service 

The winner is Brian M, Email has been sent. Thanks Everyone who sent a email!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stewart River Boatworks.


Building canoes under the company "Stewart River Boatworks" since 1979, Alex Comb now has 10 models available for purchase under his belt.  Alex builds classic designs from Chestnut and E.M. White, but also made his own solo canoes that keep with the "traditional" style of yester-year.  Now based out of Knife River, Minnesota Alex makes the Canoes, but also sell parts and supplies to make your own. He offers plans and well as fantastic merchandise. I stumbled across his really sharp looking waxed canvas kneeling pads and, canvas portage pads.  While I normally do not advocate items I haven't actually tried, I have a set of Portage pads I have made, and they look almost Identical to these beauts. I have used mine for about 6 years now, and I can say that the 6km Dickson / Bonfield Portage in Algonquin Park could have been more difficult if I didn't have these pads.  It's really nice to seem some non-nylon Canoe pads for a change, giving you something that blends in with your Woods No. 200 pack.

Stewart River Boatworks.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Pennsylvania Tuxedo.

We all know the plaid. They still use it today, however you can definitely feel a thickness/denseness difference between the “vintage” wool and today’s. Dubbing itself as “The Original Outdoor Clothing Company” Woolrich has been around since 1830. The first mill was set up in Plum Run, Pennsylvania by John Rich and Daniel McCormick. Originally just selling woolen fabric and socks to loggers and trappers. In 1843 Rich bought McCormick out and became the sole owner of Woolrich. Moving their location to Richville in 1845, and eventually become such a main stay that the town changed its name to Woolrich. By this time they have started to include shirts and blankets in their line up, and including their classic buffalo plaid shirt in 1859. During the Civil War, Woolrich provided the army with fabric for the uniforms and thick blankets to keep the soldiers warm. 

The Pennsylvania tuxedo is the nickname to the red and black plaid Woolrich hunting outfit that is officially named "The Big Game Hunting Suit".  Both pieces are made of thick wool to be wore in the deepest of freezes, but also the red plaid was one of the first type of “Blaze” clothing providing some camouflage, but yet some bright visibility to hunters. They also made the "Tux" in solid red and yellow wool in later years for those so daring. 

These pieces are still floating around in thrift shops and places like Etsy. I got my coat about 7 years ago, for $20 in Kensington Market in Toronto. The coat is lined with an orange-brown flannel, and has the back map pocket, high collar with buttoned toggle to keep it up. The pants I picked up this year, again in Kensington. The dealer was asking $25, I offered $20, and he settled on $21. I hope he spent that loonie well!  These pants are brand new; they still have the paper waistband tag on the inside and not a single stain or catch in all its years of hanging around someones store or house. They have suspender buttons to have all day comfort, belt loops for caring your knife and they lace up at the bottom along the legs. I have been looking for wool pants for some time for winter excursions, but I find that regular pants don’t work to well with my 16" Bean boots.  when you fold the pant leg over it bunches to much and adds a lump of cloth against your shin in the boot. These lace ups on the other hand…perfect! Again you can find them cheap on Etsy, and Ebay I have seen them there for as low as $10, and if you are looking for some beautiful heavy wool pants for some deep winter exploring, grab them while they are still around. 

It might seem hard to pull off the red plaid pants and not look like Elmer Fudd, but they actually look damn fine with a dark plaid top and vest.  Also I don’t think the trees will be picking apart your outfit, I promise. I finally had the opportunity this weekend to get out in my newly completed "Tux".  It was -20*C this Saturday morning, and I found myself open buttons of the jacket to regulate.  I know the shots are a little "posed". What can you do when you got to take them yourself and you have 10 sec to make it look good, so just enjoy it in all it's glory... the Pennsylvania Tuxedo.

* They hat I am wearing is GAP wool cap in the heritage Plaid, and if anyone has a scoop on a real deal Woolrich Hat in Heritage Plaid to match, shoot me a message!

Friday, January 13, 2012

First Aid 1967.

Last weekend while walking out of a the local reuse center, I scooped this old American Red Cross First Aid Manual from the "free" bin. Originally printed in 1953, this is the 1967 revised edition. It has some two hundred and fifty illustrations in it, and about two photographs. It is a great book with some great info, this edition has a amendment at the back with the even better way to preform Mouth to Mouth resuscitation! Anyhow I thought some of the drawing were quite humorous, and the lack of emotion in the victim and rescuer faces is classic.

How to Baby Bowl: Step 1) Find a baby that fits your finger for easy release.

How to Baby Bowl: Step 2) Proper form is very important for accurate bowling.

The Red Cross' Standard Halloween Costume.

Body Massage Machine.

Nothing beats a good snuggle when feeling blue.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hides In Hand Tour.

Located in Rockwood, Ontario. Hides In Hand have been making superior leather goods for over 15 years.  The company was originally started as Marzo Glove back in the 50’s, specializing in industrial gloves and such. As the need for cheaper work gloves was needed, the majority of manufacturing moved off shore to China and Pakistan, decisions were made and people were brought on board to help save this long time company. They changed focus and decided to make products that would not be interesting, or relevant if they were made overseas. Which brings us to Hides In Hand.

For the past 16 years they have been making a huge array of products, ranging from purses, hats, slippers, traditional moccasins, mukluks, gauntlet mitts, driving gloves, as well as still manufacturing superior work gloves. All made using Moose, Deer, and Bison leather from local hunters that are tanned in a local tannery also in Rockwood. I recently had to stop by to get a slipper repaired, and had the chance to meet up with Hides In Hands creative designer Teresa Paul, and take a quick tour of their fine manufacturing facility. 

As we leave the showroom, we make our way down the “stockroom”, a dimly lit, cold hallway with the wonderful overwhelming smell of leather.  Lined with stacks of finely made everything leather, it was quite a site for the eyes and this was just the beginning. I was guided through the next door, we found ourselves in the main room. Greeted with smiles from the staff, and the curious nose of Moya, “Hides in hands” mascot pup!  The room is filled with a beautifully long cutting table, plenty of sewing machines, a bunch of press cutters and other specific use machines. I was guided to the back of the room, and shown the massive stacks of leather and cutting dies. Piles taller than me, all sorted meticulously by species and colour filled the area in which the cutters work.  A wall about 20 feet long is filled with the cutting dies from top to bottom like wallpaper. Organized by pattern and size.

Teresa explained that everything they get is as local as they can find. Nothing they use is from overseas; the furthest they have had to go for some of the deerskins is the US, but again its bought from the areas local hunters. You can tell in how everything was explained, in every attention to detail that is told to me, that this is one group who is proud of their goods from start to finish. 

As we make our way over to the sewing machines, to see soles being attached to the bottom of the moccasins. The Woman using the machine works it like it is truly an extension of her arms. She zips through the leather like butter and on to the next moccasin, in one fluid motion. From there we moved to the area where the soles are first cemented to the moccasin, before sewn to the bottoms. All hand laid while on vamps to make sure alignment was perfect, from there they are put in the “hot box” to cure, a homemade wooden box filled with lamps to heat the moc before sewing.  They also use the “hot box” for form the completed moccasins on vamps to give them some shape. As we finished up the walkabout, we check out the glove heaters that form the gloves and give them their final shape and make them look pretty.  The heaters look like polished metal gloves themselves that are as long as a whole forearm.

It was such a fantastic and informal little tour of their workspace. As I was getting ready to leave the main room, the staff was sitting down for their coffee break. Again you could tell that the bunch was close, and that they really had a great time doing what they do. With Moya running around letting me scruff her up, I said thank you to the group for taking the time to show me around a bit. The overall feeling of pride and friendliness from the staff was warming. Being such a small hometown place, it’s amazing at the quantities of quality handmade goods this group can put out. With about 16 employees total, they can really turn it out. After saying good-bye and thanks again, I did a quick walk through the fully stocked showroom where I picked up some nice shearling mitts for my Wife, and a pair of Moose suede gauntlet mitts for myself.  Hides in Hands are truly local craftsmen right in my backyard. Their goods can be had at their showroom, on their website, and at many other stores and trading posts across Ontario.  As well my good friends at Canadian Outdoor Equipment Co. carry a full line of the Goods online and both of their retail locations.

Also Check Matchstick Lake's Post on Hides In Hand.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Damn Yak Dry Goods Co. Tablet Stand.

This is a little project that I did for myself, but then thought maybe I will make it available to you all.  It is made from 4 stacks of 12 oz. tooling leather, and measures 3 3/4" L x 1 3/8" W x 5/8" Thick (all measurements approx due to trimming and sanding).  Sandwiched and hand riveted together with a notch out to stand your tablet up. You can vary the angle of the tablet by just moving the stand up and down. Its small, unbreakable, and smells wicked.  This is a made to order item, I can make the top piece raw, waxed, or dark brown, and I think I have some black dye left.  These little pocket gems are $15 plus shipping (If local by all means you can pick one up). Shoot me a msg if interested or need a shipping quote. Thanks for the support.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Victoria Gin.

Handcrafted in Victoria, B.C. by family owned and operated Victoria Spirits. Vic Gin is a Canada’s only premium Gin. It is made in small batches on a highly polished handmade copper wood-fired still that resembles Tic-Tok from “Return to Oz”. This Gin has the obvious taste of Juniper, but also nine other Botanical's including coriander, star anise, citrus peel & rose petals, as well as a mystery ingredient only known by Master distiller Peter Hunt. The label of this apothecary styled heavy bottom bottle is beautiful done with a picture of a young Queen Victoria. Fitting for such a high quality gin, only the best! My everyday Gin is the cucumber mash made Hendricks. Expensive in it own right, and well worth it. I have over the past couple years acquired quite a collection of Gin, from Cold River, Old Toms, Gilbey’s, Beefeater, and Bombay. All have there pluses, but premium gin is just that, premium. Compared in price, Vic's is about double then your average "staple" gin.  Since trying Victoria gin, it is one of the only gins that is really quite palatable neat, as well as on the rocks. It really is a great tasting gin,  If you have it with a high quality Indian Tonic and a slice of lemon, you mouth is treated with such a plethora of natures bold flavors. I guess the notion that local is better stands true with gin as well. Although I haven’t given up on the great cucumber taste of Hendrick’s, It’s a welcome treat to try a fresh new and especially Canadian spin on such a historic spirit.