Urbex: Abandoned Leather Tannery Explore!!

On the coldest day registered this year, my friend Thomas and I decided to stay local for our #urbex and decided to explore an abandoned factory in town.  It has been abandoned for decades and I drive by it quite regularly,  for some reason it never occurred to me to explore it …. so 2 weekends ago, Thomas and I did just that and it was definitely worth it, even in the sub zero temperatures.  I could have stayed and explored longer than the 1.5 hours we were there – but in all honesty – I couldn’t feel my hands any longer – it was that cold out!

When I first arrived upon it, I actually didn’t know the history of the building or what it was used for, Thomas did and I had asked him to not share, so I could just explore with no preconceived notions …. turns out I was exploring the old Robson Lang Leather Tannery — or at least an abandoned storage facility for it — it appears as if the original tannery part has already been demolished.  

I’ll give you the history of the building as I know it to be — you can also check out my YouTube video for the full explore by clicking the link.

In 1963, Robson Leather (in Oshawa, Ontario) combined forces with Kitchener, Ontario based James Lang Leather Co. Ltd.   In the same year, Robson Leather Company also purchased tanneries in London and Barrie as well as one in Cobourg. Under the new business name of Robson-Lang Leathers Limited it became part of Canada’s largest tanning company.

The company stayed in business only 14 more years before its Oshawa doors were closed forever due to many strikes and a decline in business.   The entire Robson-Lang industry closed in 1986. 

The Kitchener building stands open and is easily accessible – despite this, I will not be divulging its exact location.  It’s pretty obvious that many other people have used and abused this place. A definite squat and play-area for locals. In fact, there were other “non-urbexers” in the property while we were there.  No idea why they were there, and I wasn’t about to ask them (lol).

I was able to locate a few articles on the site:

Barrie deaths investigated:
The Ontario Ministry of Labour is investigating reports of deaths and illness said to be linked to a company that operated tanneries in Barrie, Oshawa, Kitchener, and Coburg. The Simcoe County Injured Workers Association says that it has received reports of appalling working conditions at the plants, and the dumping of hazardous chemicals into city sewers and creeks. The company, Robson Lange Leather Inc. closed in 1986. Dr. Jim Stopps, chief of health studies services for the Ministry of Labour, said that 44 reports of death and illness are being investigated.

In 2016 there as a fire at the location:

A fire official at that time believed someone set fire to the abandoned warehouse. “It’s likely vandalism,” Blake Moggy, assistant platoon chief with the Kitchener Fire Department, said. “Somebody lit it on fire.” Click here for the link to that newspaper article.

Photo: Courtesy of the Waterloo Region Record
Wednesday, August 31, 2016

There was apparently an earlier fire at the site in 2013 … apparently a camper and boat parked outside the building caught fire in September 2013, also under suspicious circumstances. The exact cause of the 2013 fire was not determined.

Super cool explore … loved every minute of this one … stay tuned, next I’m hoping to explore a large, well- known factory that has closed its doors in the last few years shortly.

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