A local company says its iconic accessory was inspired by a group of men.
Howard Raber is the third generation of Raber Gloves, a country-wide manufacturer. The grandson of glove-maker Abraham Raber says his Garbage Mitts are extremely popular and have been for generations.
"It is part of Manitoba folklore. There have been lists where Garbage Mitts have made the top 10 of Manitoba-isms."
The glovemaker says they began as an unlined cowhide mitt but with removable liners. The tough on the outside, soft of the inside mitts were inspired by a group of garbage collectors in Winnipeg.
"They were worn by the City of Winnipeg garbagemen. People felt that if they were warm enough, durable enough, for them, then it grew that everybody wanted to wear what they called garbage mitts."
Eighty years later, the Winnipeg company is still going strong.
Raber says his grandfather, along with another glove cutter, moved to Canada from Ukraine in 1924. The pair created a glove-making business in Winnipeg but soon split. Raber says his grandfather then created Raber gloves, which now manufactures gloves for the RCMP and other organizations across Canada at its 560 McDermot Avenue location.
Garbage Mitts are by far their most popular item, leading Raber to request and receive a trademark for the mitts in 2012. The multi-generational glovemaker is proud to continue his grandfather's legacy by keeping the products Canadian-made.
"We take the utmost pride in being Canadian-made. It is something that we hold dear to our hearts and we are just going to keep going forward and still doing what we do best."
He says recently people have been more interested in the vintage version of the gloves than the new designs. Raber cannot fathom a guess for how many pairs of Garbage Mitts his family shop has produced over the years.
"I would not even be able to venture a guess. In the hundreds of thousands for sure."
As the mitts are in such high demand, Raber says every year they produce as many mitts as possible out of their shop.