David Carruthers opened the Saint-Armand paper-mill in January 1979. He just had left his job at the Pulp & Paper Association of Canada because he had enough of office work. His knowledge of the paper trade told him that there was room for hand-made paper mills, with a dash of technology. His background was in History of Economics and he loves 19th century technology.
David came from a family associated with paper. His grandfather George Carruthers was the owner the Interlake Paper Mill, in Ontario. He also wrote the book “Papermaking” which traces the history of 100 years of papermaking in Canada up to 1905. David’s father was a paper salesman with the family firm and he had a gift to sell remainders by the carload.
Due to a lack of budget and adequate equipment, he had difficult first years. Floods, underpowered machinery, hostile neighbours did not help. Still, he started selling and exporting his paper and pushed sales as far and fast as he could. Some of the first customers still buy our paper: Steve Steinberg from New-York Central Art Supply and Ben Woolfitt’s form Toronto.
In 1992, David had the chance to buy a thousand-pound Hollander beater from Massachussetts and a Fourdrinier paper machine from a research center in Ontario. He bought both and then set to find a space for them somewhere. He moved his hand-mill for the fourth time to setup those machines.
The Hollander beater was probably the only such machine set in the last fifty years. We were re-inventing the Industrial age on the shores of the Lachine Canal, the cradle of Canadian Industry.
To our surprise, the expected diminution of handmade production didn’t happen. On the contrary, we had to expand our handmade operation. Our proximity to the market puts no middleman between the customer and us. We are easy to reach, and can react quickly to our customers’ concerns.
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