A 153-year-long yarn to tell of MacAusland’s Woollen Mill

Posted on April 07, 2023 | By Alexander Chafe | 0 Comments


Photos of MacAusland’s Woollen Mills from the early days (photo credit: MacAusland’s Woollen Mills)


As one of Prince Edwards Island’s oldest businesses, MacAusland’s Woollen Mills is wrapped in over 150 years of history. What started with grain and lumber, evolved into a textile business that’s now known for its signature woollen blankets.

Milling from day one

The MacAusland family business was founded by Archibald MacAusland in Bloomfield, P.E.I. in 1870. Originally a sawmill and gristmill, in 1902 MacAusland’s added woollen yarn to its production line. As demand increased for its woollen products, the Mill fully transitioned into a textile business and in 1932 made its first handspun blanket from 100 per cent virgin wool.


A MacAusland’s Woollen Mill blanket being made (photo credit: MacAusland’s Woollen Mills)


Shear tradition

Many old-school processes are maintained at MacAusland’s, however, some modernizations have been made to keep pace with increasing demand. Until 1976, the entire mill was powered by diesel and water turbines before it went electric. Current manager and owner, Monica MacAusland, said that “electricity provided much-needed consistency.” MacAusland’s also made expansions to its building over time to add space for machinery and wool storage and in 2016 received funding to purchase two modernized looms for blanket making.

While necessary changes were made to scale production, the Mill continues its traditional ways of processing wool. Wool is first washed in a large machine, and then dried, processed in a carding machine and spun on a spinning frame. From there, the wool is either wrapped into skeins of yarn or further processed on a loom to make a blanket. Monica commented that to this day “walking into the mill feels like stepping back in time.”


MacAusland’s signature product, woollen blankets made from 100 per cent virgin wool (photo credit: MacAusland’s Woollen Mills)


Wrapped tight

With current co-owners Alex MacAusland and his cousin Monica MacAusland representing the fifth and sixth generation, MacAusland’s remains a fully-owned family business. Together they manage operations and a close-knit staff of ten. Each morning at the Mill, the entire team starts the day with a chat and game of cards over coffee at the lunch table.

Although not all staff are related by blood, according to Monica, everyone feels like family. “Many have worked here since before I was even born”, she noted.


A view of the exterior of MacAusland’s Woollen Mills in Bloomfield, P.E.I. (photo credit: MacAusland’s Woollen Mills)


Spinning strong

Today, MacAusland’s Woollen Mill is the only mill in Atlantic Canada that still produces blankets from 100 per cent virgin wool. Each year, approximately 12,000 queen-sized blankets are made onsite. After switching from seasonal to year-round operations about 20 years ago, the business hasn’t looked back.

When asked about the future, Monica mentioned that the business will continue to “evolve as needed to follow customer demands, nothing is set in stone.” For now, she enjoys carrying on the family traditions handed down to her by her father.

153 years later and spinning strong.

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