It is an Old World story that began before the second World War, when a commercial buyer from Quebec traveled once a year to a factory in Sudetenland, then a German region of Czechoslovakia, to buy pocket knives. Every year the buyer would urge Rudolph Grohmann the production manager at a plant in Mikulasovice (Nixdorf), to come to Canada , promising him help to get started. Mr. Grohmann would always decline as he was happy in his own country, but after the war, the political situation grew desperate and in 1949 Rudolph Grohmann accepted the offer. Rudolph’s daughter Berta married Michael Babinec Sr who was from Rudno nad Hrohom. Within a year, Grohmann and his family arrived in Nova Scotia at the invitation of the provincial government-funded Pictou Cutlery.
Here they worked along with approximately 30 other people. While Pictou Cutlery was in operation, an Arkansas knife company CASE was hired to assist with one large order of 200,000 pcs of folders. However, the Nova Scotia government closed the business after three years and sold off all the machinery. Mr Grohmann and Mr Babinec Sr then went to work at Trenton Steel making Canon shells for the Korean War and then to Fairy Aviation in Shearwater machining airplane parts amongst other jobs. Mr. Grohmann however was determined in his trade to make knives, and built a garage workshop to begin producing and engraving folding knives designed by himself.
Shortly after, Deane H. Russell, the private secretary to Prime Minister MacKenzie King, was tired of only finding imported knives at every store he went into. He thought there should also be Canadian knives on the market, so set out for a knife maker to help him make his dream come true. Mr. Grohmann met with Mr. Russell and together they set out to design truly Canadian made knives.
After field testing with the help of hunters & trappers across the far north, the D.H. Russell Belt Knife Original #1 was born. The Original, along with various other designs, won many awards and recognitions worldwide. Grohmann and Russell created three more models together, the #2 Trout and Bird, #3 Army, & #4 Survival.
“Grohmann Knives Limited” was formed in 1961 by the family and was run by one of Grohmann’s daughters, Berta, & her husband Michael Babinec Sr. They passed the family business down to their three sons who all worked in the business together at one time. Shown here from left to right, son Norman (1956-2003), father Michael Babinec Sr (1926-2012), son Michael Jr, son Roland, and Michael Sr’s wife/daughter of Rudolph, Berta Babinec (Grohmann). Michael’s wife June Ann, and Roland’s wife Chris, also worked for many years in the business along with some of their children & relatives.
Today, Michael Jr. President, along with his daughter Michelle are running the business in its same location in Pictou Nova Scotia with approximately 25 employees.