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Report - Bata Shoe Factory (Batawa, ON, Canada - visited 2011)

Discussion in 'European and International Sites' started by jerm IX, Apr 29, 2013.

  1. jerm IX

    jerm IX 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

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    For those interested in delving deeper, a more extensive write-up with more pics can be seen here...

    jermalism: Abandonment Issues: Bata Shoe Factory


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    The concept of Disneytown, USA or any other form of corporate community is a scary thought these days. Orwellian cookie cutter corporate suburbs consuming farmland, industrial and residential areas alike. It's not just Rogers Arena or Rogers Centre, it's the city of Rogers in the township of General Motors in the province of Starbucks in the country of Nike. Our flag is a red on white swoosh, and it's on every other billboard. In 2011, that's not just a scary thought, it's a foreseeable future.

    In 1939 however, a young capitalist with a social conscience envisioned just such a place. A company run town that took care of it's employees and citizens like family. A country named Canada that he had read about as a child would be the perfect place to escape the escalating tension in his homeland of Czechoslovakia, and move the operations of his company, along with 120 employees and their families. Only 120 of what he hoped would be 250 employees and their families were allowed by the Canadian government. They were resistant at first but eventually realized what benefits he would be providing to the county 9 years after the depression forced the closure of the Frankford Paper Mill.

    Thomas J. Bata had inherited the Bata Shoe Company from his father years before an army of German Nazis under "that rascal, Hitler" began marching across Eastern Europe. And so Mr. Bata took "a great big plunge of faith" and settled on a small valley north of the Royal Canadian Air Force base in Trenton, Ontario. The town would be called Batawa. The Bata company built homes for the employees and affordable rent was deducted from pay cheques. Eventually employees were offered the opportunity to purchase the homes for a mere dollar. The new immigrant Czech workers were experienced executives and skilled electricians, engineers and machine operators. They were taught the English language as they were teaching newly hired locals the shoe-making process in the abandoned Paper Mill to the south in Frankford, as the factory was being constructed.

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