Genfoot Inc. is a company specialized in the injection moulding of thermoplastic rubber to make outdoor boots for men, women and children. It is primarily known for its house brand Kamik, which was started in 1972.
The company’s history began in 1932 when Lebanese-born businessman William Cook (about 1896–1971) purchased Charron Manufacturing, a shoe factory that had been in operation since 1898 in Contrecœur, a village near Sorel.
The plant’s 200 employees were manufacturing women’s shoes that William Cook felt were out of fashion, so he began modernizing the styles offered and making shoes for men and children as well.
In 1946, the company changed its name to the General Footwear Company.
In 1965, the head office and some of the production facilities were moved to 554 Côte de Liesse in Ville Saint-Laurent. It was there the company developed the Kamik brand, named for an Inuit word meaning “foot covering.”
The company shortened its name to Genfoot Inc. in 1975, and then continued its expansion by acquiring a plant in Hamburg, Ontario, and another one in Littleton, New Hampshire, in the United States.
As of 2018, Genfoot Inc. produces over 2 million boots annually and exports its footwear to 30 countries. Approximately 70% of its products are made in North America. The company is proud that its boots are 100% recyclable at the end of their useful life.
Genfoot Inc. is still wholly owned by the members of the Cook family.
Factory workers, New Hamburg, Ontario, 1919. Photo courtesy of Genfoot inc.
Felt recycling department, New Hamburg, Ontario, about 1919. Photo courtesy of Genfoot inc.
Lindeman, Tracey. “These Boots Are Made for Snow, Sleet, Slush: Family Company Has Shod Quebecers since 1932,” Montreal Gazette, 9 December 2014.
“William Cook Obituary.” Globe and Mail, June 11 1971.
© MCCORD STEWART MUSEUM 2023