One of the most important technical advances of the Industrial Revolution, and the ancestor of binary code use (by punch cards), is the Jacquard Loom, invented in France in the early 1800’s.
On Saturday, two of our directors (the two Jim O’Reilly’s) had a chance to visit one of our old projects: the Replica Jacquard Loom at Lang Pioneer Village Museum, south-east of Peterborough. In 2002 and in 2011, we funded the re-building of Jacquard looms that were used in the Peterborough area in the 1880’s by Samuel Lowry. In the 1900’s they fell into disrepair, came close to being destroyed, and were bought for $10 in 1956, by Mrs. Dini Moes. She in turn donated what was left of them to LPVM in 1973. Incredibly, at the time the re-build project started, there were only 5 Jacquard looms in North America and Lang Pioneer Village Museum had 2 of them! And fortuitously, there was an expert weaver and cabinetmaker, Didier Schvartz, in the community, who committed his skill and hundreds of hours to the project.
What a testament to the imagination and commitment of the LPVM community and the County of Peterborough: what started as the rebuilding of the looms has grown onto the Samuel Lowry Interpretive Centre for weaving, the Festival of Textiles and ongoing Master Classes in fabric arts and technology. Many groups and dozens of people contributed to this program, both financially and with huge amounts of volunteer time, and we are proud to have been a small part of it.