In 1906, Léonius Leclerc, named Nilus Leclerc (1875 - 1961) built a
factory in l'Islet Québec, which was 120 feet long by 40 feet wide. The
first floor was used for the workshop and the office, while the second and
the third floors were the family home.
The factory produced house and church furniture, doors and windows as well
as all-wood weaving looms that measured 6' x 6'.
After 1920 they produced mostly handweaving looms while still producing
some church furniture.
In 1924, they started to produce a new, more compact handweaving loom made
to fit inside a normal house.
This new loom received the approval of the Québec government and they
started a teaching
program in all regions of the province.
The loom cost was $45 for a 27", $50 for a 36" and $51 for a 45" plus tax
In 1926, the new loom was sent to a show in the Québec exposition. Mrs.
Edmond Chamard gave a demonstration and Robert (son of Nilus) helped to
thread the loom. It was his first experience in weaving.
He was nine years old.
In 1934 the depression forced Nilus to reduce the cost of the loom to:
$34.23 for a 27 inch, $35.23 for a 36 inch and $36.73 for the 45 inch
In 1936, Robert Leclerc started working full time at the factory as a Loom
assembler and salesman.
When the second World War began in September 1939, handweaving looms in
Canada were considered to be part of farm equipment. Nilus had the same
priority of supply and labour as agriculture machinery.
SEE THE 1937 NILUS LECLERC CATALOG (.PDF)
Marie Deschênes, Nilus' wife died on July 28, 1938. She had had 20
3 of whom died very young.
In 1942 the company started producing specially designed exercise looms
for returning soldiers. Nilus Leclerc's loom was still considered to be a
luxury item in the US and Europe.
With the assistance of the Department
of National Defence, it became part of the recovery therapy program in
hospitals in Great Britain, the United States and Canada.
1943 Complete catalog in French and English (Prices in Can$)
The company's production increased dramatically.
In 1944 the company incorporated under the name of Nilus Leclerc Inc.
Nilus retired from the active business while remaining president of the
He kept busy by making furniture for his newly built house, 500'
from the factory.
He produced many objects in marquetry, including a beautiful table with
more than 10,000 pieces.
Robert became general manager modernizing the production and re-organizing
and distribution systems.
Following the war, additional models of looms (Minerva, Colonial, Nilus,
Nilart, etc.) were developed to meet the growing demand of the handweaving
The company grew dramatically.
In 1950 the production of church furniture was resumed.
On February 9th, 1951, a big fire wiped out most of the building and the
As soon as the snow melted, the construction of a new factory, 220 feet
by 50 feet wide, began.
In 1958, a new 6,000 square foot extension was built.
Nilus Leclerc died in 1961 and Robert became President.
In 1970 with the growing US market, the company opened a distribution
in Plattsburg NY.
||It can be safely said that amoung other factors,
Robert Leclerc is directly responsible for the great revival of the
weaving craft both in Canada and outside - not only because the "Nilus
Leclerc Inc" satisfies millions of handweavers, but also because of
his unquestionable devotion to handweaving and its development in our
"Warp & Weave" E. Schartmann
The building was again too small, and in 1973 they built another section.
The factory was now 60,000 square feet. They also modernized the
for introduction of
handweaving at Montserrat, West Indies.
Click picture to enlarge.
In 1976, Nilus Leclerc Inc. was still controlled by the Leclerc family who
owned a 94% share.
They had 95 employees that year, who produced
Click picture to enlarge
They had distribution centers in Plattsburg NY, Sacramento CA, Provins
France, Sydney Australia, Port au Prince Haiti and Mexico. They also had a
retail store in Québec city and 388 dealers in North America.
1976 Nilus Leclerc Catalogue
In the 1980's, with the sales of looms declining, the company started
van flooring and
later home hardwood flooring.
Robert retired in 1986 to take care of his ill wife and since then, the
company has not been
the direction of the Leclerc family.
The flooring production division was growing in the 1990's, and management
selling the looms division.
June 22 2004
Robert Leclerc at the official opening of a Museun located at the
old L'islet shop.
It is about the story of the Leclerc Family and hand
weaving in Québec.
M. Robert Leclerc passed away March 05th in Québec City.