New Brunswick

Demand for Canada 150 flags, brings seamstress out of retirement

When she's done, Theresa King, will have sewed 2,500 flags for Canada 150.

Across the country, Canadian flags are flying off the shelves in preparation for Canada 150

Theresa King's basement is full of bright materials and the tools to turn them into something special. 0:52

Canada Day is just under a week away and thanks to the demand for flags leading up to the big celebration, one New Brunswick woman has had to put her retirement on hold.

Theresa King's basement is full of bright materials and the tools to turn them into something special. Since March, most of King's projects have been paused while she helps her former employer.

"I thought I was going to be retired," King said with a laugh from her seat in front of a sewing machine.

After 28 years working for The Flag Store in Thornton, Ont., she moved to Tower Hill, near St. Andrews. King was only given two years before her old boss came calling.

"The demand for Canadian flags for the 150 has been so dramatic that they have been out of flags forever," King said.

So she agreed to help, thinking at first it would only be for a couple of weeks. Her estimate turned out to be off. Way off.

Getting into the flag business

"By the time I'm finished, it will be about 2,500, three-foot-by-six-foot Canadian flags that I will have finished."

Working from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., King can put together about 250 flags a week, which despite their complexity, she will tell you is fast.

In order to save on the shipping costs, King drove her first shipment of 1,400 flags to Ontario in May.

There has been some time for King to enjoy some side projects, like altering a graduation dress, but she said she's happy to help her former colleagues.

In her years working for The Flag Store, she said March always meant the beginning of the busy season. But Canada 150 she said, has created demand the store isn't normally accustomed to.

"Those girls are pretty tired too," King said. "They're just swamped and there just isn't enough time in the day."

In her years working for The Flag Store, March always meant the beginning of a busy season. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

It isn't just King who is hard at work in the workshop, she enlisted her husband, Doug, to help out too.

He'll be the first to tell you that he never planned on getting into the flag business. But after stencilling off bright red maple leafs from cloth, Doug King said the work keeps him out of trouble.

While her time is occupied by piecing together red and white material, King will have a little variety in her life this week.

100 and counting

A text from her boss saw rolls of green, gold, and black arrive at her door with a request from the Jamaican consulate.

"I have 100 to make" she said, "So I can ship them on Wednesday."

After being so busy, you would think King planned on taking Canada Day off to enjoy seeing some flags fly. Instead, she said she's only going to take a break to go to the market before getting back to work.

With a goal of getting another 1,000 Canadian flags finished by September, she said her next delivery will be her vacation.

"That'll be my holiday" King said, "A few days off to drive to Ontario and deliver all the flags."