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Want new trousers, battle dress maybe?


Maritime Pant Factory, a firm in Amherst, was under contract to the war effort to produce trousers – battle dress and air force during the Second World War.

The Maritime Pant Manufacturing Co., Ltd. was formed in 1924. A small group of Amherst businessmen who, facing the possible closure and bankruptcy of King Brothers - a clothing factory - were then trying to locate an experienced manager as managing director. Martin J Kaufman had worked since 1921 for the King Brothers who had a small clothing factory on Victoria Street.
Enough new venture capital was raised and King Brothers went by the boards and was incorporated as the Maritime Pant Mfg. Co. Ltd. Indeed, drive down Station Street towards Spring Street Extension, keep your eyes looking to the left and upwards and the words, in large block letters - MARITIME PANT MFG CO LTD - are quite visible.
The original King Brothers was located in a two storey building on Victoria Street East on the site that was occupied by the Sofa Shoppe. As was the case with other brick buildings in Amherst it burned down. The first floor had been occupied by Abram's Ladies and Men’s Clothing Store and the upper level by King Brothers.
The Maritime Pant purchased the Electric Street now occupied in part by Creighton Shatford. The photo was taken at the rear of the building. Please note the year of the photograph 1934, during the height of the Depression of the dirty thirties. The Maritime Pant and Robb's Engineering (then located on Lower LaPlanche Street) were the only industries in town providing any constancy of work for its employees. At this juncture in its operation 77 employees were on the job.
Five years later (1939) the Second World War began. Through the tender process the company became actively involved in the manufacture of Army Battledress and Air Force Trousers. Its home site on Electric Street was too small and cramped to meet a required daily production of four to five hundred pairs of trousers. This problem was solved by the purchase of what became its permanent post-war site on Douglas Avenue. Both plants ceased any production of any civilian garments and devoted their full capacity to the war effort.
The workers produced over 525, 000 army battledress trousers and over 225,000 air force trousers. Men and women were employed on a 55-hour per week basis, with a 250 per cent output above normal. The material was supplied by the government.
As it did for so many Amherst industries, the Second World War provided a great economic boost to Maritime Pant Manufacturing Company Limited. During the Second World War, under contract to the Department of National Defence, the plant turned out nearly two million garments for the armed forces.
Some idea of activity in this industry is garnered from the fact that enough units are produced every day, for use by an entire battalion. When asked if the plant could increase its capacity, the General Manager Replied, “nothing is impossible in this company.”
Note: The museum is planning for more activities coming soon. Watch for future articles for times and dates.
A visit to the Museum will provide a complete viewing of all the wonderful historical photo, displays and artifacts, for a minimum visit fee.
The museum fall/winter hours are now 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday. To gain public access, please contact Natasha Richard, Curator/Manager at 902-667-2561.

Gordon Goodwin is a Director of the Museum and is the retired President and CEO of the G&G Group of Companies.  

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