Cooper's Shop

The wooden cask, made with staves, two heads, and hoops that hold it firmly together is one of man's outstanding inventions. It is only slightly less important than the wheel in the history of human progress. It has served as an excellent multipurpose container throughout recorded history. The hand method of fabricating the cask has been basically the same for the past three thousand years.

Coopering was a very important craft at Fort William. The following goods were shipped to and from the fort in barrels, casks and kegs: gunpowder, liquors, vinegar, pork, beef, butter, sausages, raisins, figs, prunes, cheese, sugar, tobacco, gum flour, salt, peas, and fish. In 1816, there was enough wood for one hundred and fifty kegs, and in 1820, for two hundred kegs.  To make this quantity, the cooper would need a large work area. This explains why his shop is so large when compared to the blacksmith and tinsmith's shop.