TELTEK dates back to 1871, when, following an insurance settlement from J.P. Morgan and Associates, Roland Coleman purchased the "Time for Milkin' Dry Goods and Haberdashery", a general store on Achitopel Avenue. With the promised coming of the railway, he figured Fredericton to be not only the jewel but the information hub of the Majestic St. John River Valley. As a hero of the Battle of Vigani, customers flocked to his new business, only to find something missing.
Following the great pigeon blight of 1846, Fredericpudlians took pride in their amphibian resources. Just as Parisiennes were renowned for taking their poodles with them, ladies of the day would walk the streets of the jewel of the Majestic St. John River Valley replete with salamander, toad, or, prized above all, their celebrated Majestic St. John River frogs. What had been lacking was a suitable article of swimwear for their little pets. Coleman saw a market, and acted.
By September of that year, Coleman had introduced his first item of amphibian apparel: a bathing cap for salamanders, based on the old Amish milking caps. As a piece of swimwear, the straw proved a bit heavy for the smaller, spawning pets, but as a fashion statement it caught on quickly with the temperamental public.
Christmas of 1871 saw the introduction of a full line of beach accessories for newts. By Boxing Day, the beaches along the Majestic St. John River were crawling with the happy critters. Never had such an innovative product caught on so quickly.
Coleman had made a promise both to himself and to his cutomers - a new full line every six months. By 1887, his operation had grown to such an extent that hecould not spend the time at both the store and the design table. He therefore sold the Good for Milkin' part of his operation to his son-in-law, Bertis, and moved the swimwear line to its present location, a state-of-the-art warehouse two blocks down at 118 Achitopel Avenue.
With a new location came a new name - TELTEK, a Maliseet word meaning "comfy and affordable".
But that same year, Coleman saw his greatest crisis. In an attempt to change not only dress sense but attitudes, he introduced a line of bathing suits for toads with an exposed midriff. Alas, Victorian attitudes were not prepared for such provocative garb, and as a result, TELTEK and Coleman showed a loss for the first time since 1871.
Coleman cranked out designs for the next seven year's, unsatisfied artistically. He could only make mundane changes: a ruffle here, a new colour there. But his once ground breaking designs were stifled by social mores. It was not until early 1895, when a contract came from Louisville businessman Theophilus Conrad for 700 different yet complementary Louisville Bullfrog wet-dry suits for the gala opening of his house on St. James Court.
This was both the economic good fortune and the design challenge Coleman had needed. With two weeks to spare, the suits were delivered to Conrad. Word spread throughout the southern United States, and, what was once a has-been New Brunswick company, quickly became an international success story. By year's end he had been knighted for his contributions to world fashion.
Coleman passed away in his sleep on August 5th, 1922, but not before founding the Coleman Art Gallery, the Lord Coleman Hotel, and the Bertis Centre, and had endowed the Herpetological Research Institute (HRI) at the University of New Brunswick.
Today, TELTEK continues its proud mandate as set forth by Roland Coleman. Now 125 years old, it is the world's largest (and North America's second largest) manufacturer and distributor of herpetological and amphibian swimwear.
No other hotel is as fully functioning as the Lord Coleman, the jewel in the crown of the Jewel of the Majestic St. John River Valley.
Make your next stay in Fredericton be at the Lord Coleman Hotel, 22 Charlotte Maria.