Strand News

VOLUNTEER ASSOCIATION | Textile Museum of Canada

See John Campbell’s Loom in Action

Last summer, a blue and white “Roses and Stars” coverlet made by John Campbell was on display at the Textile Museum of Canada as part of the Dreamland exhibition. John Campbell’s loom is located at the Ontario Science Centre and is operated by volunteers, usually on Wednesdays and some Saturdays. January 27 is John Campbell’s 207th birthday. Come celebrate by seeing his historic Jacquard loom in operation:

Jan. 27, 10am – 3pm
Ontario Science Centre, Level 6
770 Don Mills Rd., Toronto

John Campbell was one of approximately 30 weavers in Canada who operated a type of loom that wove recognizable or figured imagery using the binary language of punch cards. His 170-year-old loom, which stands 3.5-metres in height, is the only known loom of this variety that exists in its original state in North America, and is still in operation today. Campbell, born in Glasgow, Scotland on Jan. 27, 1806, was like many other Scottish weavers who immigrated to North America with the desire to continue their work as independent tradesmen. In 1854, Campbell and his family moved from Livingston County, New York, to Middlesex County, Ontario where he took orders from about 1,000 customers in rural southwestern Ontario – some living as far away as 150 km. Campbell’s account book, which dates from 1859 to 1885, shows that that Campbell was in demand producing about 2,000 yards of cloth and receiving about $400 per year. The figured coverlets, or as Campbell called them, “carpet coverlets,” accounted for 13 per cent of the total number of yards he wove while earnings from their sales accounted for 34 per cent of his total income. Clearly, the patterns created by the punch cards gave Campbell a valuable edge with his customers. Campbell worked as a weaver until 1891 when he died at the age of 85. John Campbell’s punch card-controlled loom holds a remarkable place in Canadian history because it demonstrates technology (that inspired the invention of the computer), in use in rural 19th century Ontario. – Deborah Livingston-Lowe

John Campbell Jacquard Loom Ontario Science Centre


About Strand News

Strand News is the online meeting place for members of the Volunteer Association of the Textile Museum of Canada. Our annual fundraisers, including the Textile Bazaar, support Museum programs and exhibitions.

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This entry was posted on January 24, 2013 by in • Upcoming Events, News and tagged , , .

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