Beaver Hats to Hockey Pads: A Social History of Felt in Canada (redux)

3. Wilderness Tips

Capitalizing on the great outdoors, and how an old felt hat can save the day…

Filtering is a primary application for industrial felt. In fact, the word felt in German is filz which also means filter. Felt is made in numerous shapes and sizes for filtering a range of substances, due to the properties of high permeability, fluid flow rates and ability to capture large amounts of debris. Felt determines the tone and texture of maple syrup through filtering. When sap is boiled, minerals that are naturally present are concentrated into a substance commonly known as sugar sand which is filtered out through felt to achieve desired syrup consistency.

Even an old felt hat is a filter, and can be used in an emergency. If water gets into your gas, a common occurrence amongst anglers and outfitters, pour the mixture into the hat. The fuel will pass through while the water remains in the cap.

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LEFT: “Mecanix Illustrated: The How-to-do Magazine,” 1954; RIGHT: maple syrup filters and cone, made by The Brand Felt Ltd.

The Brand Felt Ltd. manufactures and sells a broad range of industrial felts. It has survived globalization and thrives in Mississauga Ontario as the last remaining pressed wool felt manufacturer in Canada.

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LEFT: My brother’s knapsack, 1960s, canvas with leather and felt straps; RIGHT: 1) Tobacco pouch, 1990s, hide and felt with beadwork, hand-made at Six Nations; 2) Canteen with felt cover, 1940s; 3) Coleman stove, 1950s, with felt filters and funnels, 1950s and 90s. The original aluminum funnel stamped with Made in Canada is no longer made, and has been replaced by the red plastic counterpart.

Coleman, well known amongst campers, has been a name brand in outdoor recreation in Canada for decades. This American company, founded in 1900 and established in Wichita Kansas, had operations in Canada in the 1920s to expand their markets, and benefit from Canadian policy. The British Commonwealth gave preferential tariffs and duties to products made in member nations. Coleman manufactured products in Canada until the mid-1990s cashing in on ‘The Great Outdoors’. However, beginning in 1998 Coleman succumbed to a series of corporate mergers ending up as one of many trademarks owned by Newell Brands with most products now being made in China. KW

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