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Production resumes on aluminum miner's lunchbox

Investors breathe new life into 65-year-old Sudbury design
The Miner's Lunch Box, produced by L. May Mfg. Inc., was first designed by miner Leo May in 1956.

Production is resuming on the Sudbury-born aluminum "Miner's Lunch Box,” thanks to a group of investors who have decided to bring it back to market.

L. May Mfg. Inc. announced on June 3 that the lunchboxes – which were once ubiquitous amongst miners in the industry – would go back into production following a two-year hiatus.

The group of investors is led by Doug Patrick, president at Patrick Mechanical, a Sudbury-based construction firm serving mining, construction, and other industries.

“The Miner’s Lunch Box is a piece of Canadian history,” said Sue Lekun, head of business development with L. May Mfg Inc., in a news release.

“More than a million of these were sold over the last half-century. They are cultural heirlooms, and they also speak to the quality, durability and rugged dependability that those who helped literally build our country expected day in and day out.”

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Leo May, an underground miner who worked for INCO (now Vale) in Sudbury, first came up with the idea for the lunchbox in 1956.

When May tried to repurpose his tin lunchbox as a seat while waiting for the cage to bring him and his crew to surface, it crumpled beneath him. That was his inspiration to come up with a better design.

He fashioned the first Miner's Lunch Box – lightweight, but strong and sturdy enough to withstand the harsh mining environment – out of his home workshop and immediately received orders from other miners who wanted their own.

The launch of his company, L. May Mfg, followed, and the popular lunchbox has been purchased by users from across the country.

May's daughter, Catherin Langin, welcomed its return.

“These are not just iconic pieces from the past. Almost 70 years later, they still stand up to the test and do the job for a lifetime,” Langin said in the release.

“There’s been so many stories shared about these lunchboxes and how they’ve been passed down from parents to kids – I am so glad to see they are finding their role in the modern workforce.”

The Miner's Lunch Box continues to be manufactured in Sudbury.