Shoes and boots made with Hartt and sole, dating back 125 years
Posted on May 19, 2023 | By Alexander Chafe | 0 Comments
With over a century of history tied to the name, Hartt Shoe Company is well-known in the Maritimes and across Canada. Although the premium men’s shoe and boot company once closed-up shop, a relaunch of the brand has Hartt shoes back in production.
Hartt Boot and Shoe Company was originally founded by Odber M. Hartt in 1898 in Fredericton, N.B. After a successful career in the U.S. shoe market, Hartt returned home to New Brunswick to secure investment to bring shoe manufacturing to the province. As construction of the Hartt Shoe factory began, Odber travelled across Canada and the U.S. to formalize his business strategy and recruit experienced foremen. Hartt decided that the best move was to focus on fine-quality men’s leather shoes, and production began in 1899.
A sales team was initially assembled to acquire wholesale clients across Canada and after a couple of months, sales had reached production quotas. The company later expanded into retail and launched stores in Halifax, Toronto, Montréal, Ottawa and other cities across Canada. By 1903, Hartt Shoe Company had 500 employees and produced 2,000 shoes daily.
In 1904, Odber Hartt decided to return to the U.S. and sold his interests in Hartt Shoes to a Canadian manufacturer. Still producing its signature brand of shoes and providing consistent employment in New Brunswick, Hartt Shoe Company continued to thrive. Over the years, the company also made boots for the Canadian military in both world wars and Strathcona boots for the RCMP.
After a British company took over ownership and then Prada in the 1990s, Hartt Shoe’s factory and retail stores closed in 1999. The factory building remains recognized as a historic place and has since been turned into a condo building that still bears the Hartt name.
In 2017, Andrew Bedford revived the brand. Bedford says the inspiration came when he saw a social media post about someone having worn their Hartt boots for over 40 winters. Bedford explains that he was familiar with the brand, “Hartt was definitely one of the well-known legends in business, an inspiring brand that once was. Everyone in Atlantic Canada with a bit of grey hair knew Hartt Shoes.”
After acquiring the Hartt Shoe name from an investment firm in the U.S., Bedford searched for a manufacturer that could produce the high-quality men’s footwear that Hartt was known for. He found a factory in Spain that had similar processes and equipment that were used by Hartt, allowing them to recreate many styles of the brand.
Bedford says he received a lot of support from the local community when relaunching the brand; someone even attended the event wearing a 60-year-old pair of Hartt shoes that once belonged to their father.
Today, Andrew continues to operate Hartt Shoe Company, which focuses exclusively on online sales.
Wanting to maintain the brand’s legacy, Bedford says: “We’re always looking to gather stories of the brand, so they can be preserved for future generations.”
125 years later and still walking.
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