Tuck Tape and masking tape and my dad and – a question

Tuck Tape factory in Montreal

The Tuck Tape factory in Ville Saint Laurent (a suburb of Montreal), which I inadvertently stumbled upon on the way to a dentist’s appointment recently. And which brought back happy Manse memories.

My father, The Rev. Wendell Sedgwick, was a United Church of Canada minister, a farmer, a woodlot manager, a maple-syrup maker, a handyman, a fixer-of-neighbourhood-kids’ toys (and family cars), and a whole lot more, all of it good. And he was the hardest worker you ever met. (After Dad died I wrote a Lives Lived column for the Globe and Mail, the newspaper he read all his life, describing his life of hard work. You can read it here.)

The Rev. Wendell Sedgwick

That’s my dad! He could fix anything. Even with rudimentary tools. (Photo by Lance Crossley, then of the Minden Times)

Dad grew up in a family that never had a lot of money, and certainly our own family never had a lot of money. Which meant that the tools and machinery Dad used on the family farm up in Haliburton County, or in the woodlot he might be working in, whether in Haliburton or in the general vicinity of the Manse in Queensborough – or even just to repair an inner tube or the family toaster – were always old and well-worn, and frequently in need of repair. Dad spent a lot of time getting broken mower blades welded by his cousin the welder, Elgin Sedgwick, up in Haliburton; or getting troubled chainsaws attended to at places like Thompson’s Farm Supply in Campbellford; or, very often, fixing things himself. And there were certain products that he relied upon a great deal in the fixing process.

One was LePage contact cement. (I believe the LePage folks were the same people who brought us those plastic tubes of glue we used in school back then – the ones where the glue always dried up on the rubber tip so you couldn’t get the new glue out. But I digress.) Many were the evenings when Dad would be in the Manse kitchen using contact cement to apply a patch to the inner tube of a car tire or tractor tire or bike tire, and if I close my eyes when I’m in that kitchen now I can not only picture the scene but smell the LePage’s contact cement.

masking tape

Okay, so these days masking tape has the logo of huge multinational 3M on its inner cardboard roll. But I am so sure that when my dad was using masking tape for his many repair jobs around the Manse, it was made by Tuck Tape. Am I wrong?

Another of my dad’s go-to products was masking tape. Not duct tape, people! Masking tape. The beige stuff. I think that these days (and quite possibly since forever), masking tape is used mostly in interior painting, to keep the just-being-applied new paint from going where it shouldn’t, like ceilings and mouldings. But lord knows there was never any interior painting at the Manse, at least when my family lived there in the 1960s and early 1970s. So what did Dad use masking tape for? I totally do not know. I just know it was always around, and the big rolls of it (sometimes wide, sometimes narrower) always seemed to be in service.

I hadn’t thought about Dad’s masking tape for decades. And then one day recently while on the way to a dentist’s appointment in Ville Saint Laurent, I was startled to spot (on Boulevard de la Côte-Vertu) a mid-century-looking industrial building with an extremely familiar brand logo on the front of it. That brand and logo were Tuck Tape, in a very familiar typeface. That was the same imprint that was on the inside of the round cardboard cores of my dad’s many rolls of masking tape all those years ago! I was tickled to discover that the factory that produced the tape that Dad had made such good use of all his life was located where I now live, hard by my dentist’s office. And so I took a few photos of the factory, and made a mental note to do a blog post about it one day.

red Tuck Tape

My randomly discovered scrap of Tuck Tape at the Manse, reminding me of Dad – and leaving me wondering about the history of Tuck Tape.

Then not too long after I stumbled across the Tuck Tape factory, I stumbled onto something else: when I was doing springtime lawn cleanup at the Manse, I came across a small piece of red plastic with the Tuck Tape logo on it, windblown and stuck against the fence. “A sign!” I thought. A reminder of Dad! I even wondered if there was the slightest chance that this piece of stray plastic was a bit of packaging that had somehow, miraculously, survived all the years between the time when Dad was using Tuck Tape masking tape for various duties at the Manse, and now, i.e. 2013. Maybe it had been lodged in a corner of the Manse’s back porch (Dad’s workshop) for a few decades, only to be let loose by a door being opened after the arrival of Raymond and me, and an unexpected breeze?

Alas, my internet probings into Tuck Tape and masking tape are leading me to a) be dead certain that the red plastic Tuck Tape of the modern era, used very specifically for “sheathing” (whatever the heck that is) is not remotely the beige masking tape from my dad’s time; and b) question my memory about Tuck Tape being the maker of the all-purpose masking tape that Dad always used.

Manse dining room January 2012

Not a great photo of the Manse’s dining room – it was taken way back in January 2012 when Raymond and I had just barely become the owners – but note all the doorframe mouldings. At Christmas when I was a kid growing up there, every inch of doorframe moulding was taken up with displaying the Christmas cards from my dad’s parishioners – stuck up with masking tape.

So my question is: what’s the story on Tuck Tape? Am I absolutely hallucinating that it was the maker of good old general-purpose masking tape? (Did I mention that we used to use it tacked to the doorframe mouldings to display the gazillions of Christmas cards that the minister’s family would get?) Given my instant and visceral reaction and memory jolt when I saw that old Tuck Tape logo on the factory in Montreal, I really don’t think so. But Tuck Tape seems to be a company that doesn’t feel it needs a website (Hello, Tuck Tape? It’s the 21st century calling…) so it’s very hard to know.

So after all this verbiage on the subject, I have a humble request of you, dear reader: Tell me what you know about Tuck Tape, and masking tape. And if you’d like to share anything about LePage’s school glue, or contact cement, while you’re at it: feel free!

13 thoughts on “Tuck Tape and masking tape and my dad and – a question

  1. Can’t help you on the Tuck Tape issue, but the warm and cozy memory-slippers that you don so often nigh bring a tear to my eye. I only hope that someday my children will inherit as rich a treasure chest of memories as have the Sedgwick children! “As they say in my world, “you need WD40 to make it go and duct tape to make it stop.”..the best to you both…GnG

    • Thank you four your lovely comment, GnG! Listen, you are such a wonderful storyteller that your children are bound to inherit a treasure chest full of happy memories, of that I am very sure!

  2. My Dad was a research chemist there You can email me if you like and he can fill in some gaps for you!

  3. Just found this article tooling around the internet. My father was the founder of Tuck Tape, Paul Cohen. Not sure if you are still looking for some history of the company.

    • Oh wow, Laura! I’m sorry for the slow reply, but I would love to know more about the history of the company that makes such useful products! I’d especially love to know if my childhood memory about Tuck Tape masking tape is correct. You can reach me back-channel at sedgwick.katherine@gmail.com. Thank you so much for making contact!

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