A virtual mini-museum of the halcyon days of the Canadian pencil industry.
A public service announcement for vintage pencil collectors... don't chew your old pencils. Prior to about 1970, that beautiful smooth glossy finish on your pencil was probably achieved by adding lead to the paint. Sometimes frighteningly high levels of lead. It seems Canada was a bit slower than the US in "getting the lead out". So there is a bit of lead in those old "lead pencils", its just in the paint instead of the core.
Edmonton Journal Thursday, December 30th, 1971 page 31
A New Menace - Pencil Chewing
Yellow pencils may pose a health hazard to persons who chew them because of high lead levels in the paint finish, a study by STOP has revealed.
Bruce Martin of STOP, who conducted the Edmonton study, estimated a child would have to eat the paint on four of the highest rated pencils over six weeks for fatal lead poisoning to occur.
The principal hazard lies in the fact lead is a cumulative poison, he said.
Chemical analysis of five brands of Canadian-made pencils readily available in Edmonton show the yellow paint on E Eagle Mirado 174 Hard 2H “Chemi-Sealed” pencils contain 23.2 per cent lead. Canada Venus Imperial 1500 HB pencils record 18.8 per cent lead. The remaining three brands contained lesser amounts of lead.
The tests were conducted by the chemical department of Warnock Hersey International Ltd. of Vancouver.
STOP (Save Tomorrow Oppose Pollution) has notified the federal department of consumer and corporate affairs of their findings.
In a reply to STOP, J.W. Black of the hazardous products division, said pencil manufacturers were advised it would be recommended to Ron Basford, minister of consumer and corporate affairs, that a ban on the use of leaded paint on pencils should be introduced under the Hazardous Products Act.
The STOP study was initiated after a similar study was conducted in New York by the health department’s bureau of lead poisoning. The New York study found 51 of 138 pencils tested to have levels exceeding the one percent allowed by law in the U.S.
The high-lead content paint gives the pencils a smooth glossy finish.
La Manufacture Canadienne de Crayons was a pencil company established in Marieville, Quebec in 1959. In English, this company was known as the Canadian Pencil Co. Ltd. (C.P.C.). The factory was inaugurated in April 1960. It was the only purely Canadian pencil company at the time, the others in Canada were all subsidiaries of U.S. companies. I'm not sure how long the company lasted, or how long they produced pencils, but is seems to have been in place at least until the early 1970s.
The factory was located at 101 St. Charles Street in Marieville, Quebec. I believe the civic address (but not the location) later changed to 675 St. Charles Street. Schola Inc. is now at that location and makes art supplies.
The pencil below, with the name Distinction 350, is probably from this company. The logo appears to be an outline of the country of Canada in an oval. It also has C.P.C (Canadian Pencil Company) and C.C.C. (Crayon Compagnie Canadienne?) initials on it.
From Le Courrier de St-Hyacinthe, jeudi 7 avril 1960
Hon. Laurent Barré inaugurates a new plant in Marieville
The Hon. Laurent Barré, Minister of Agriculture in the cabinet of the Hon. Antonio Barrette, Premier of the Province, Member of Parliament for Rouville County at the Legislative Assembly, presided last Saturday at the opening of the Canadian Pencils Manufacture in Marieville.
After seeing the traditional ribbon cutting, the minister is happy to see a new industry in Marieville. "We need," he says, "small industries like yours, but it's important that they be built on a solid foundation for the prosperity of the city." Bishop Euclide Théberge, parish priest of the parish, proceeded to the blessing of the factory and wished the industry to take a considerable step forward for the benefit of the landowners and fellow citizens of Marievillie. Other guests said a few words, including Mayor Jean Beauregard. Then there was a visit to the factory.
The Canadian Manufacture of Crayons currently has some fifteen employees. It is the only French-Canadian pencil company established in Canada. A reception followed, at which besides the appointed persons, MM. Roger Parent and Guy Renaud owners of the plant; Ovila Goyette, secretary of the municipality, MM. Arthur Ostiguy, Ephrem Robidoux and Lueien Guité, alderman.