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Army boots to school boots–leather made locally

August 14, 2014

 

J Leckie Co - Sturdy School BootsIn 1920, boys who were lucky went back to school in boots made of leather supplied by the Leckie Tannery on Fraser River at South Westminster.

”They’re Just Like Dad’s” read a J Leckie Co. advertisement.  “The Leckie Boot for Boys is built along the same sturdy as the one Dad wears.”  Another claimed that “Boys like a Leckie Boot for its ‘snap’ and solid comfort — parents like it for its many days of extra wear.”

 


employee Alex Collidge - Leckie army bootsThe Leckie Tannery supplied the leather and Leckie’s factory made the boots that Canadian soldiers marched in during the war.

The Leckie factory was mechanized with the exception of one last operation: bootmaker John Collidge hammered in the hobnails and attached steel blakeys on heel and toe.

No doubt the “snap” of  the boot the company made for boys referred to its style.  However, by at least the 1960’s one could be sent home from school for wearing footwear sporting blakeys.

 


Company founder John Leckie of Toronto was noticed visiting New Westminster in August of 1887, but it was not until 1892 that the firm established a branch store in Vancouver.
At that time the company was an importer of  fishing nets and fishermen’s supplies. On the west coast they branched into prospector’s and logger’s supplies, including logging boots.
They began making their own line of boots, which they also marketed to the general public, becoming “the largest shoe manufacturers on the Pacific coast.”
The firm acquired the Fraser River Tannery as a source of leather.


Note:

The photo of shoemaker Alex Collidge is from an unidentified article  titled “Quality leathers used in boots for fighting men,” likely from the Vancouver Sun. Collidge worked at a window overlooking Burrard Inlet.

For a history of the tannery, see earlier post “Fraser River Tannery.”

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