'Made to last': More than 100 years old, Canadian wool company thrives in changing knitting market

Written by Heather Barrett - CBC Tuesday, February 18, 2020

'Made to last': More than 100 years old, Canadian wool company thrives in changing knitting market

Briggs & Little survives by keeping its yarn and its business old school, natural and on a small scale

Heather Barrett · Posted: Feb 14, 2020 4:14 PM ET | Last Updated: February 14 
 
Mike Little, the fourth-generation owner-operator of Briggs & Little, with his sons John and C.J., who work on the factory floor.
From left to right: Mike Little, the fourth-generation owner-operator of Briggs & Little, with his sons John and C.J., who work on the factory floor. (Heather Barrett/CBC)
 
Briggs & Little's knitting yarn is a bit scratchy and has a faint whiff of its barnyard origins. 
 
But in today's $2.8-billion North American knitting market, both the yarn and the small Canadian company that makes it have proved to be surprisingly durable. 
 
"Part of the appeal to our customers is that we're just real people like anyone else," said John Little, the recently retired, third-generation owner and operator of the family-run company.
 
Located in York Mills, N.B., the mill started in 1857 and changed ownership and names over the years. In 1916, the business became Briggs & Little Woolen Mills Ltd., making it Canada's oldest continuously-operating woollen mill and one of the few remaining woollen mills left in North America.
 
The first thing you notice when you enter Briggs & Little's woollen mill is the smell of wet sheep. 
 
"After a while you'll grow to really like it," laughed Mike Little, the mill's current owner-operator, and John's son. Mike is the fourth-generation Little to run the mill. 
 

John Little, the third-generation owner-operator of Briggs & Little Woolen Mills Ltd., in front of the mill's world headquarters in York Mills, near Harvey Station, N.B. Pictured at right: Briggs & Little yarn ready to be shipped to customers.

John Little, the third-generation owner-operator of Briggs & Little Woolen Mills Ltd., in front of the mill's world headquarters in York Mills, near Harvey Station, N.B. Pictured at right: Briggs & Little yarn ready to be shipped to customers. (Heather Barrett/CBC)
 
The mill takes freshly-shorn sheep's wool, most of it from Canadian Co-operative Wool Growers in Carleton Place, Ont., and the rest from individual farmers, and turns it into yarn in a rainbow of colours.  
 

Link to full Briggs & Little story on CBC

Link to download of full story as PDF

 

Posted in Wool News

Canadian Sheep Identification Program Fees Increasing Today

Written by CSF Monday, February 3, 2020

Canadian Sheep Identification Program Fees Increasing Today 

 
For Immediate Release
Ottawa, ON (February 3, 2020) – Effective today, Canadian Sheep Identification Program (CSIP) approved Shearwell tags are subject to program fee increases originally noted in the January 4, 2019, press release.  The earlier release noted that fee increases resulting from the ratification of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA) and Canadian Sheep Federation (CSF) would “take place over the course of the next two years, varying by tag type according to the terms of the agreement and as tag inventories are replenished”.
 
The most recent fee increase will affect Shearwell tags at retail outlets starting today, raising the base price of ASET Single tags by $0.10/tag and ASET Double tags by $0.10/pair.
 
   
The Canadian Sheep Federation is Canada’s legitimate national sector-wide producer organization representing 100% of Canadian sheep production by virtue of our members, programs and policies. 
 
To learn more about the Canadian Sheep Identification Program and sheep traceability in Canada visit our website at www.cansheep.ca, the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency website at www.canadaid.ca and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website at www.inspection.gc.ca/animal-health/terrestrial-animals/traceability/eng/1300461751002/1300461804752. 

Wool Growers thrive amid global downturn

Written by Tom Van Dusen Friday, January 17, 2020

The century old woolgrowers'  co-op has seen sales rise even as global demand has dropped.

Carleton Place - Although it depends on an international market which has been experiencing “rough ride”, Canadian Co-Operative Wool Grower continues to post warm and fuzzy numbers. 
“Wool prices have been quite volatile which has created chaotic conditions for mills and de-valued inventories,” says CCWG General Manager, Eric Bjergso. “European processors have reported consumer demand has dropped by more than 20 per cent due to trade and economic uncertainty.”
Within this context, in the last fiscal, CCWG recorded gross sales of more than $11.5 million representing an increase of 11.2 % over the previous fiscal while achieving net income of $514,135 from all business operations.
In terms of wool production, a 9.7 % increase was recorded.
Profitablility was up at CCWG retail locations across the land to the tune of9.7 % over the previous discal year; as a result of the respectable numbers, the board of directors once again authourized a dividend payment o 7% to all shareholders.
 
During the 2019 Annual General Meeting, CCWG’s Eric Bjergso (centre) mingles with representatives of Briggs & Little Woolen Mills of New Brunswick which has been doing business with the co-operative for more than 70 years.
 

Download the full story by Tom Van Dusen

 

Posted in Company News

Canadian shearer set a new world shearing record in a Waikato woolshed in New Zealand

Written by Angie Skerrett - NewsHub Monday, December 9, 2019

Congratulations to Pauline Bolay!

A Canadian shearer who set a new world shearing record in a Waikato woolshed on Saturday has paid tribute to a New Zealand shearing couple who were the inspiration for the challenge.
Pauline Bolay, who works for a shearing contractor in Waikaretu, smashed the women's solo eight-hour strongwool lambs record of 507.
Bolay is from a farming family in Fairford, Manitoba, and represented Canada as a shearer at the world shearing and woolhandling championships in Masterton in 2012 and again this year in France.

 

 

Posted in Shearing News