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Summer always ends. Thankfully, Hilroy, which turns 100 this year, has been helping generations of Canadian students make the transition into fall. Its crisp, blue-lined spiral notebooks and rainbow-bright folders are a welcome highlight of a new school year.

The company, which is the country’s leading supplier of paper products for home, school and office, was acquired by U.S.-based ACCO Brands Corp. in 2012, but it still manufactures some of its best-known goods in Canada.

Raw sheet metal is punched to create the metal fasteners and eyelets for Duo-Tangs (left); covers for Hilroy's famous spiral notebooks are stacked before entering the line

Ryan Walker/The Globe and Mail

At its Mississauga, Ontario, factory, it takes 45 seconds to make the iconic Hilroy notebook, including trimming the paper, binding and adding a cover. Over the course of a seven-hour shift, upwards of 18,000 Hilroy notebooks are churned out. The factory is split into two: a ruling area, where notebooks, pads of paper and the like are made, and a brief area, where office supplies such as folders, bristol board and Duo-Tangs are dyed, cut and packaged. The company produces 14 million books, 8.5 million portfolios and 8.1 million report covers annually, contributing to a Canadian office-supply manufacturing industry that Ibis World estimates at $345 million.

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“Hilroy didn’t just ‘happen.’ It has been developed through the foresight, effort and determination of its president and his associates,” said S.E. Beare, of Globe Envelopes Ltd., when introducing founder Roy C. Hill at the 50th anniversary of Hilroy Envelopes and Stationery Ltd. (its corporate name in 1968).

Five decades later, the company is still going strong. Despite the challenges of staying relevant in an increasingly digital world, Hilroy is capitalizing on analog trends by positioning and promoting its products for niche uses such as bullet journalling—a system that’s a cross between planners, to-do lists and diaries.

Because sometimes, you just need to write it down.

Ink rollers apply blue lines to blank rolls of paper before it is cut to size for the spiral notebooks

Ryan Walker/The Globe and Mail

Eyelets and prongs are inserted into brief covers (left); a spool of wire will become the coil in thousands of spiral notebooks

Ryan Walker/The Globe and Mail

Scrap metal left over from making metal fastners and eyelets for Duo-Tangs is recycled and used again

Ryan Walker/The Globe and Mail

Dye consistency is monitored on the file folder line where raw card is dyed, cut and boxed (left); flats stacked with brief covers

Ryan Walker/The Globe and Mail

The multicoloured exercise booklet assembly line is prepared. Each run last approximately 30 minutes and can produce over 35,000 booklets

Ryan Walker/The Globe and Mail

Clean ink rollers sit ready to be re-installed on the assembly line. These rollers apply a blue grid pattern to large spools of paper that are then cut to size

Ryan Walker/The Globe and Mail

Splotches of ink surround the ink rolling section of the line

Ryan Walker/The Globe and Mail

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