1963.94 | Skates

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J.A. Whelpley Company
1870-1910, 19th century
42.5 cm
Gift of Helena White
This artefact belongs to: © New Brunswick Museum
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Keys to History

Farming was not the only occupation in the countryside. The rural network also included many small industries that supplied some local needs. The shops of blacksmiths, coopers, shoemakers, storekeepers, woodworkers and tanners dotted the rural landscape, usually in or around riverside villages and hamlets. Some of their products, like barrels and berry boxes, carried the farmer's produce to the urban markets. Other industries were larger in scale, like the J.A. Whelpley Skate Co. in Kings County, which shipped its skates and metal toys to provincial centres as well as to other parts of Canada and the United States.

The J.A. Whelpley Co. of Greenwich, Kings County, produced skates ranging from the "Long Reacher" speed skate, famous throughout the province, to the "Volant" hockey skate. Area residents used the skates not only for recreation but as a means of getting from place to place. New Brunswickers living near or on the province's many river systems followed suit.

Source : Window on the World: The Rivers of New Brunswick [Web tour], by New Brunswick Museum (see Links)

  • What

    The term "Long Reacher" was adopted from the long, straight stretch of the St. John River known as Long Reach, which ran near the Whelpley factory.

  • Where

    Some of the Whelpley skates were displayed at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.

  • When

    The Whelpley factory operated from the early 1870s to the first decade of the 20th century and patented no less than 26 different varieties of skates.

  • Who

    James Albert Whelpley held several skate patents and was once offered $21 000 for the patent he held on his skate design.