Cottage Craft

Cottage Craft St. Andrews

Cottage Craft

Located on Water Street in St. Andrews, Cottage Craft stands out from other businesses. Unlike the typical streetscape storefronts, it faces the town’s Market Square and offers a picturesque view of the harbour from its southern side.

Historically, its prime location was surrounded by numerous wharves, making it an ideal spot for businesses like Lamb and Billings’ meat shop and Conley’s lobster plant. Owned by the Anglican Diocese of Fredericton in the 19th century, the land was leased to various businesses. There’s a belief that the building was relocated here in the 1880s, as its architectural style appears to predate 1887, the year Lamb and Billings, the town’s top meat dealers, first began their lease.

In 1921, Edwin Conley, a former lobster fisherman from Deer Island, acquired the building from G. Herbert Lamb and transformed it into Conley’s Lobster Factory. Leaving behind fishing, Conley began buying, processing, and exporting lobsters to Boston. His innovative patented container prevented lobsters from being harmed by melting ice during long shipments, revolutionizing the industry. The factory had large tanks, continuously pumped with 1500 gallons of water per minute from the Bay of Fundy. The summer influx of affluent tourists and locals, along with the renowned Algonquin Hotel, made St. Andrews an excellent market for selling lobsters. Conley sold his establishment in 1948. 

Cottage Craft St. Andrews
Cottage Craft Photo: Charlotte County Archives

For the last six decades, this building has housed Cottage Craft. Established by Grace Helen Mowatt in 1915, Charlotte County Cottage Craft aimed to empower women by reviving their traditional skills, providing them with an income source. Mowatt organized the surrounding counties into sectors, each supervised by a forewoman, who coordinated women working from their homes in activities like weaving, knitting, and embroidery.

Grace Helen Mowatt
Grace Helen Mowatt Photo: Charlotte County Archives

The Ross family acquired the business in 1946 and has been running it from this location since 1948. Cottage Craft is renowned for its hand-knit sweaters, crafted meticulously by over two hundred and fifty local knitters using only Cottage Craft yarn and traditional knitting needles.

Unfortunately, a fire in August 2016 damaged Cottage Craft, as documented in a video from the YouTube channel “Historic Home Movies of Saint Andrews.”

Today, Cottage Craft operates as a restaurant and fabric shop, continuing to contribute to the rich tapestry of St. Andrews’ history. 

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