Flax in a New Land
Flax on the North American continent dates back almost 400 years to 1617 when Louis Hébert, the first farmer in Canada, brought it to New France. With time, flax production expanded and moved westward across the continent. By 1875, European settlers were seeding the unbroken western prairie with flax brought from their homelands. Flax flourished in the clean environment, and production in the new land advanced.
The coming of two world wars increased demand for flax as a source of oil for many products in the home and factory. Following the Second World War, particularly, commercial production in North America expanded substantially.
Throughout the 50s and 60s, flax products were widely used throughout the world. Oil-based coatings beautified and protected wooden and concrete surfaces, and durable linoleum became a popular flooring material. During this time, and beyond, flax formed part of peoples’ diets.
In parts of the world, flax breads and other baked goods are commonplace. Similarly, farmers and animal breeders feed flax to their livestock for maintenance of healthy coat and to improve animals’ digestion.
Over the last decades, flax has stayed popular, and progressive Canadian flax producers have moved forward to meet customers’ exacting standards for flax. Canada’s share of flax production has increased steadily. In the 90s, Canada emerged as the major exporter of flax worldwide.