Batawa is a small community in southeastern Ontario, Canada, in the city of Quinte West. The community was set up by the Bata Shoe Company as a planned community around a shoe factory. The factory opened in 1939 and closed in 2000.
As conditions in Europe prior to World War II led Tomas Bata to search for a location in Canada to transfer operations. Bata chose the area of Eastern Ontario. Eastern Ontario was chosen because he did not want to locate in Quebec for language reasons, and the electricity supply in Western Ontario was not compatible with his European equipment. Batawa's location was chosen for its proximity to a lake, a railway, a highway, an airport and cheap land. A factory town was built and opened in 1939. The Bata company owned the town, providing accommodations at a reasonable rate to its workers. The company controlled virtually all aspects of the village. There was a Bata grocery store, Bata recreation hall, Bata clubs, Bata teams and a Bata shoe store. Many of the residents were immigrants from Bata's homeland, Czechoslovakia, who immigrated at the time of the factory's construction. The town was initially the headquarters of Bata Shoe operations in Canada; the headquarters moved to Toronto in 1964.
During the latter-half of the 20th century, tariff barriers on shoe imports into Canada were reduced, allowing more and more low-cost shoes into Canada. Eventually, Bata determined the factory could not continue as a viable business operation and closed the factory in March 2000. As part of a strategy to cut costs, Bata consolidated production in lower-wage countries overseas. Bata Shoes would close its retail shoe stores in Canada one year later in 2001.
There are several books about the Bata's including: Uprooted and Transplanted, the story of a family that immigrated to Canada and worked at the Batawa facility.
- Gray, John (May 23, 2000). "Way of life disappears with factory in Batawa". The Globe and Mail. p. A8.
- Strauss, Marina (January 17, 2000). "Bata to revamp worldwide operations". The Globe and Mail. p. B1.
- Angus, James T. A Respectable Ditch: A History of the Trent-Severn Waterway 1833-1920. McGill-Queens University Press, Montreal and Kingston, 1988.
- Skoutajan, Hanns F (2000). Uprooted and transplanted: a Sudeten odyssey from tragedy to freedom, 1938-1958. Owen Sound, ON: Ginger Press. ISBN 978-0-921773-54-2. OCLC 45265108.
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