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In the early years of settlement, farmers had to make their own shoes, harnesses, and other leather necessities. When a cow died, the farmer and his wife would scrape, cure, and stretch the hide. The leather could then be used for making everything from patches for mending clothing to door hinges.

When tanneries began to appear in villages, the nasty chore of curing cowhides was not one that was widely missed by many people.

Tanneries cured not only the hides of farm animals, but of wild animals, as well. These hides were valuable trading items in both the domestic and export markets. Hides used in the Eastern Townships included beaver, muskrat, rabbit, mink, ermine, otter, martin, bear, fox, deer, moose, lynx, and bobcat. The skins needed to be softened and preserved, and this was the job of the tanneries.

Hemlock bark played an essential part in the leather tanning process. In the spring months, the bark could be peeled quite easily with the use of a barking axe. Many farmers sold their bark to local tanneries. At first, the bark was ground under giant stone millwheels. Once it was ground, cold water was poured over it, and the mixture was left to stew for a few days. The process was then repeated until liquid of the correct colour was produced. This became the dye that would be used to stain the leather. Once the leather was stained, it was passed out to the currier whose job it was to scrape and soften the rough hides after the tanner had treated them. The finished leather was then shipped to factories which produced leather articles