Tue 14 Apr 2015
This past weekend I rescued a CPW, Canadian Production Wheel, which showed up on local Craig’s List and which has a distinctive cast iron treadle with cut-outs: EL. St. Frs. While there had been much speculation in spinning wheel circles some time ago when the treadle first appeared on a wheel, but no one had been able to ID the wheel. Sadly, that wheel was missing flyer and bobbin. My find is intact with the exception of the footman. While I’ve been in the process of cleaning and feeding the wheel, others have been researching. We think we’ve found the builder. 24 year old Elie Laporte in the 1871 Census of St-François-du-Lac, Yamaska, Quebec was reported to be a “manufacturier de rouets”. He reappears in the 1881 Census as “menuisier” (carpenter) and again in the 1891 Census as “fabricant de rouets”. It all fits. EL St. Frs
Obviously, by identifying the builder and discovering the span he was working and building wheels we can approximate the date of the wheel. Elie Laporte was born 27 Nov 1845 and died 2 Aug 1919. He had married first at age 17 and he and his wife had three daughters. His wife died after only five years of marriage, leaving him a widower with three young daughters. He remarried a year later and is listed in the 1871 Census with his second wife, the three young girls, his mother and mother-in-law and his sister all living in the same household. Since he is already identified as a builder of spinning wheels at that time, it can be assumed that this wheel was built before the turn of the century and somewhere within the range of 1863 (the year of his first marriage) and 1901 (when he is listed in the census as a border which suggests he’d given up his home and shop). He had relocated to St Bonaventure d’Upton by the time of his death in 1919 at the age of 64.
While it would be wonderful to have been able to narrow the build date even more, I’m thrilled to have identified the builder and to have restored the wheel to it’s purposes, that of being a production spinning wheel.