Tag Archives: History

Our Founder Came to Duluth 144 Year Ago Today

Our Founder, Camille Poirer, in Duluth, MN

Our Founder, Camille Poirer, in Duluth, MN. Photo via Duluth Public Library.

Camille Poirer created the first Duluth Pack in 1882. Twelve years before that, he set off to Duluth, MN (our flagship location) from St Paul, MN to start a new life. The trip took him four days “of very cold and suffering,” he wrote, starting Feb. 10th, 1870 and ending on Feb. 13th, 1870. 144 years ago today, he would have been on the 3rd day of his trek.

Via Google Maps

Via Google Maps

Poirer walked from St Paul to Hinckley, MN (a 76.6 mile, 25 hour walk) even though in 1856, he injured his leg in a wood-chopping accident, and it never fully recovered. From Hinckley onward, he rode up to Duluth via stagecoach.

Once he made it to Duluth, Poirer started a shoe shop on Lake Avenue and Superior Street.

In 1882, he was inspired by the voyageurs of the northland, and created a new style of “packsack” which would later be called the Duluth Pack.

Poirer died on October 17, 1919 in Duluth.

Read more about this event, and Camille Poirer here.

Piper shows off her new Duluth Pack sticker

100 Years: A Great “Duluth Pack Day”

 

 

Piper shows off her new sticker

 

It was 1911, and Duluth was the Zenith City, more millionaires per capita than any other city in America. Awnings were going up by the dozens around town as shopkeepers dressed up their storefronts. And a French-Canadian named Camille sold the rights to his “Poirier Pack,” a canoe pack with a revolutionary sternum strap, and traditional tumpline to Duluth Tent and Awning.

On Friday, July 15th, 2011, in the Duluth Tent and Awing factory, Duluth Pack celebrated 100 years at our 1610 West Superior Street location. Mayor Don Ness presented us with a proclamation making it “Duluth Pack Day” in the city. Our front sidewalk was heavy with local dignitaries and media for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Following the ceremony we held an open house with tours of our grand, old facility and fired up the grill to serve lunch to our guests. Over 200 people came to see all that goes into making a pack right here in Duluth. Starting with the cutting of the leather and the canvas, upstairs to sewing the pack together, next to the rivet station, on to clipping and turning, and finally out to shipping.

It was all hands on deck as our production staff answered the many questions and comments from our visitors. Most just watched as the bags were assembled, and marveled in the realization of all the hard work that goes into an “American Made” bag. We have quality people building our quality product, and what fun it was for them to share their expertise with our highly interested guests.

Thanks to everyone who came out Friday to support our 100th anniversary in our factory on West Superior. Everyone here at Duluth Pack had a great day, and really enjoyed meeting all of you. Camille started us off 129 years ago, so we are looking forward to another great 100 years.

If you missed the chance to get a factory tour during the open house, come on by any weekday between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm and we will show you around. Of course don’t expect the grill to be up and running, but you never know.

Head to DuluthPack.com

 

A Brief History of our “Zenith” City

 

In 1886, Duluth, Minnesota was called the Zenith City of the Unsalted Seas. A fitting name to all who have visited or live here. The home of the Original Duluth Pack has a rich history. A brief synopsis follows.

Our most famous landmark: the Aerial Lift Bridge

Originally this land was inhabited by the Sioux and Ojibway tribes when they were pushed further east by settlers. The 1600′s brought the French Voyaguers here for the fur trading. In 1855 when the Sault Ste. Marie canal opened it made Duluth the only port able to access both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. By 1869 Duluth was the fastest growing city in the nation. The stock market crash of 1873 put a stop to our rapid growth, we peaked about 100,000 people.

With the area’s abundance of lumber and mining coupled with a vibrant shipping and railroad industries, by the early 1900 Duluth boasted more millionaires per capita than any other city in the country.

Today you can still revisit the past with our many historical buildings still preserved today.

Our flagship store in Canal Park (365 Canal Park Drive) is a block from the historic Aerial Lift Bridge, come by and tour our remarkable Zenith City of the Unsalted Seas. If you do, be sure to stop in at our factory and take a tour of our shop, it’s a pretty cool place!

Duluth Pack and Blog?

Porier pack on our founder

I just realized what an oxymoron these two terms are. Duluth Pack and Blog. After 127 years we are steeped in a rich tradition, making packs the same way for years, our tried and true method. In 1882, what would our founder Camille Poirier, have to say about the concept of a blog? Unimaginable!

Yet, here we are launching our blog, acknowledging the fact that outside these factory walls life moves forward. Don’t get us wrong, we aren’t coming into the 21st century kicking and screaming. Moreover we are excited about a whole new world to share our history and our pride in craftsmanship. We plan on sharing a lot more as well. We love this company, city and surrounding lands. We have a product to fit in with anyone, anywhere. We can’t wait to begin to sharing the old with the new.