In 1952, Leica opened a factory in Midland, Ontario, Canada.
The “Ernst Leitz Canada (ELCAN)” location was initially intended to be a place for the assembly of cameras and lenses using parts from Wetzlar, Germany. However, under the leadership of Walter Mandler, it became a high-tech research and development centre.
Although Mr. Mandler had planned to stay in Midland for only a brief time, he ended up living there for the remainder of his life. Some of the most groundbreaking — and beloved — Leica lenses were created in Canada during his tenure.
In 1990, Leica sold the plant to Hugues Aircraft. In 1997, the plant was sold again, this time to Raytheon.
Today, I fulfilled a long-standing wish and made the pilgrimage to Midland. The distance — a 2 hr drive from Toronto — is short enough to be easily traversed, but long enough to be inconvenient (hence why I hadn’t previously attempted it).
I knew one thing before I even started: the destination would be a disappointment. The physical appearance of the building is… uhm… not pretty, and it’s under security (Raytheon is a USA defense contractor) so there was no chance of stepping inside and accidentally uncovering a treasure trove of lost Leica lenses/cameras.
Still… I had to go, and I’m glad I did.
I took my trusty Leica M3 (loaded with Kodak Portra 400) and 50mm Summicron Dual Range, and shot 3 frames. There was really no point shooting more, LOL.
(However, I used up the rest of the roll in the surrounding region outside of Midland, but those images await another day.)
↑ Leica M3, Leica 50mm Summicron Dual Range, Kodak Portra 400, and Plustek 8200i.