Vancouver-based guitar maker Larrivée, which famously sent a guitar to space with Canadian astronaut Cmdr. Chris Hadfield, plans to bid farewell to its Canadian operations and move all of its production to the U.S. in the coming months.

The company has run two factories — one in Vancouver, and one in Oxnard, Calif. — since 2001, and after the 2008 economic downturn it's become difficult to keep both open, said owner John Larrivée.

The company plans to sell the Vancouver factory to recoup losses of recent years, though it employs 30 people and is still profitable, he said.

"My father and the rest of my family have been in California and they like it there, and there's several other tax reasons why it just makes sense right now to move down to the U.S.," he told CBC News.

For example, the U.S. imposes a tariff on imported goods that contain animal parts like pearl and abalone, which Larrivée guitars do.

Canadian-made style of guitar

The luthier has been known in guitar circles for decades, but garnered galactic fame when Hadfield played a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" on a Larrivée guitar on the International Space Station. The video has over 19 million hits on Youtube.

"What a great circumstance ... to have a Canadian guitar on board the space station, and it was a pleasure to be able to play up there, and I think it's good for Canada," said Hadfield earlier this year.

Larrivée said the stateside move doesn't make them American.

"We're Canadians. We build a Canadian-made style of guitar, but we're just doing it down across a thin red line on a different part of the soil."

The CBC's Deb Goble spent the day with the Larrivée family and some of their employees in the soon-to-be-shuttered Vancouver factory. 


  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the move was due to the U.S. tax system and orders from California. In fact, while a U.S. tariff was a consideration, there were a number of factors including an existing California factory and the cost of running two facilities.
    Jun 21, 2016 11:51 AM PT