Fonds consists of 1 box of files; B&W and colour photographs and artifacts including:
File - Minutes 1952 - 1969
File - Legal Documents including incorporation papers dated 1925
File - Financial Statements 1961 - 1963
File - Shares (Various Documents)
File - Chevron Construction
File - Addition to 182 Montcalm Street, Hull.
File - Correspondence 1969 - 1996
File - Newspaper Clippings
File - Memorabilia
File - Product Photographs
File - Family History information
Envelope - Notesbooks
Account Journal 1949 - 1953
File - Artist Michael Chartier
File - Sample of Rachel Catalogues
Artifact - Tray # 1 - Pearl Quality Samples
Artifact - Two stamps
1940 - 2008
Nathan Evenchick was born in 1892 in Minsk, Russia. As a child he attended cheder close to the family’s goose farm in Volma. In 1905, when he was 13 years old, he was sent to live with his aunt, Nechama Evenchick Bakstansky, in New York. Travelling steerage class he used his older brother Meyer’s papers to enter the United States at Ellis Island. From that point on, ‘Nathan’ was known as ‘Meyer.’
Evenchick cleaned bottles for his aunt, who prepared meals for garment factory workers. Later, he got a job driving a streetcar. He spoke only Yiddish and Russian when he arrived in New York, however, within a few years he had learned enough English to pass the entrance exams for university.
Unable to afford tuition, Evenchick decided to travel to Japan with his first cousin Samuel Dorsky in 1914. They established a business selling pearls, jade, fine china and other Oriental products. Evenchick lived in Japan for eight years and then moved to Ottawa where he married Lillian Sugarman from Vilna, Lithuania. They had a daughter, Shirley Fay Lacome (b. 1923 - d. unknown), and then a son, Avrom "Abbey" (b. 1924- d. 2008).
Evenchick started a wholesale business importing mostly artificial pearls from Japan, which he sold to various department stores. M. Evenchick Jewelry Ltd. was established in 1922. The company imported cultured pearls and is purported to be the first company in Canada to do so.
When trade supplies were cut off in 1939 with the outbreak of the Second World War, his company was the first to produce simulated pearls using finely ground scales of red herring. Evenchick returned to New York to learn how to coat glass beads with pearl coating made from scales and began manufacturing them in a small, cinder block warehouse in the backyard of 232 Chapel Street.
Evenchick designed special dipping and drying machinery, experimented with a variety of dipping mixtures, developed his own dyes and worked out many technical difficulties in order to develop a consistently good product. For instance, the pearls would ‘blush’ and lose their lustre when the dip became cloudy due to fluctuations in temperature and humidity. At first, his output was small because of the amount of time spent in research and development, but, eventually, the problems were solved and production increased.
In 1941, Evenchick purchased a large house on Albert Street, where he employed 35 women to string the artificial pearls at a quota of 75 strings per day, producing between 700 and 1,000 strings of Evco Pearls per day, plus earrings and bracelets. By 1946, he had tripled his production and supplied 75 per cent of the manufactured pearl export trade to the United States, the United Kingdom, the British West Indies, Peru and Brazil. Evco Pearls were manufactured according to a closely guarded formula developed by Evenchick, which he shared only with his son, Abbey. The Moonglow pearl that first appeared on the market in the fall of 1946 took a full year to develop.
In 1950, Abbey Evenchick’s brother-in-law, Bernard Lacome, entered the business after going to the United States to learn how to cast metal for costume jewelry fabrication. The business expanded again in 1958, when M. Evenchick Ltd. moved to 180 Montcalm Street in Hull, Quebec. In 1969, Abbey Evenchick took over the family firm on the death of his father and under Abbey's direction the company produced a full line of costume jewelry that ranged in price from one dollar to $1,500 with exports to the West Indies, Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
In 1982, Abbey’s sons, Mark and Brian Evenchick, took over the company, bringing further innovation to the marketplace. They worked with ARC Industries to produce a line of maple leaf pins using copper from the roof of the Parliament buildings when the roof was replaced in 1996. They also started using aboriginal artist Mike Chartier’s unique designs carved first in moose antler then reproduced in pewter and sterling silver. Over time, their Rachel line of costume jewelry expanded to include thousands of broaches, pins, earrings, necklaces and bracelets, which were sold to major Canadian chains including Eaton’s, The Bay and Birks. M. Evenchick Jewelry Inc. offered a full range of services, including in-house design, model-making, casting and plating before the business closed in 2008.
Donated by Mark and Brian Evenchick.
Family History information provided by Sharon Edelson 2009.