Fresh out of retirement and ready to take on the world with her lunch boxes, Catherine Langin is eager to carry on her father’s legacy.
Called the Miner’s Lunch Box, it has been manufactured for more than 60 years right here in Sudbury. It was all started by Langin’s father, who came up with the idea after working underground. He was waiting for the cage, and had two options of where to sit, either in a puddle or on his lunchbox. He chose the lunchbox, but it crumpled under his weight.
That’s when he set his mind to building a better, more durable lunchbox. The Miner’s Lunch Box was born.
“Then all his crew said ‘Make me one’, and away he went, sitting at the kitchen table cutting with shears, and me, at five years old, working in the basement, helping him.”
At one point, Inco had about 20,000 miners and Falconbridge had around 9,000 and each one of them had one of these lunchboxes, she said.
“I tend to think of these lunch boxes as libraries, because we all have stories in them, and people are just compelled to tell us their own stories about their father or grandfather having one,” she said.
There was such great demand for the lunchboxes that, in 1978, May invented his own unique automated equipment for mass production. The company was incorporated under the name L. May Metal Fabricators Ltd., and the lunchboxes became the standard for the mining and construction industry.
And, the rest is history. More than a million lunch boxes have been sold around the world since then, and if Langin has it her way, millions more will be sold.
Langin said she’s excited to carry on her father’s legacy once again. She said she has the right team in place to begin a new chapter in the Miner’s Lunch Box history books.
Sue Lekun, who takes care of business development, said the Miner’s Lunch Box is a piece of Canadian history.
“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.”
Production of the lunchboxes ceased in 2019, but now a group of Sudbury-based investors have come on board to bring the iconic lunch boxes back to the market.
Doug Patrick and his group have embraced her father’s idea and are helping to take it to the next level, Langin said.
“There’s a lot of interest, but I think people are just waiting for the product to go live,” she said. “We wanted to make sure we were ready to go. It’s a dream come true, really.”
Langin and her team started production in February to make sure they have enough product available at launch. Right now, the only size available is the Super Classic lunchbox, but other sizes will become available as there is demand for it. Soon enough, lunchboxes will also be able to be personalized with colours and patterns, which was a popular aspect before she retired, Langin said.
Once life starts getting back to normal after the pandemic, Langin said her team will attend mining shows and other events to start promoting the lunchboxes.
In 2009, Langin appeared on the CBC television show Dragon’s Den, attempting to convince one of the venture capitalists on the show’s business panel to invest in her company.
In 2012, Langin once again had a brush with fame after meeting with Jason Priestley, Richard Dreyfuss and Tatiana Maslany on the set of Cas and Dylan. They were filming near her home.
For more information about the Miner’s Lunchbox, visit LMayMinersLunchBox.ca.