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‘You can sense the disappointment’: NovaScotian Crystal closing after 25 years in business

The staple of the Halifax waterfront closes at the end of February, citing lower production capacity and no tourism season

3 min read
caption Master craftsman Brian Tebay uses a blowing iron to shape the glass
Nathan Horne

The workers at NovaScotian Crystal are still busy in the shop despite last week’s announcement of its upcoming closure.

Brian Tebay is the master craftsman at the famous Halifax glassworks.

“A lot of the guys here have been working here 15 to 25 years,” Tebay said Wednesday, the sounds of the factory bellowing around him.

Tebay said that production has been cut in half due to coronavirus restrictions, which really hurt the company’s bottom line.

“In business, efficiency is everything,” said Tebay.

These public health restrictions meant the craftsmen could no longer share a blowing iron, the tool used to shape the glass as it cools. Because of this, less work could be done because only one craftsman could work on a blowing iron at a time.

James Dwyer has been a customer of NovaScotian Crystal for years, and was disappointed to hear the news.

“There’s nothing like it… it’s hands down one of the best if not the best crystal products in the world,” Dwyer said.

He added that the closure is a blow to the business community and cultural landscape of Halifax.

caption A craftsman uses a diamond edged wheel to carve patterns into the glass
Nathan Horne

Deborah Trask spent 30 years on the curatorial staff of the Nova Scotia Museum, and published a book in 2011 about the history of glass in Nova Scotia.

She said the company has had its issues in the past.

“They were always teetering on the brink,” she said in an interview Monday.

She said company owner Anne Campbell originally bought NovaScotian Crystal while it was in receivership, and before that the company had to restructure several times.

“It was remarkably good management for them to last 25 (years),” said Trask.

Trask listed the product’s luxury status, high production cost, and the company’s location as reasons why she was not surprised by the news.

“They make a product nobody really needs, but it’s wonderful to have,” she said.

The Signal requested comment from Campbell, but did not receive a response.

For now, Tebay is trying to stay positive.

“It’s like any other business that ended up having to close, we’ll have to find something else.”

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Nathan Horne

Nathan Horne is a journalist interested in breaking stories that highlight the inequalities and injustices in society.

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