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Charles H. Coll and the invention of Muskol®

In the early 1950s, a basement workshop on MacLean Street, New Glasgow, saw a rather extraordinary man begin to carry out experiments which led to the production of the well known insect repellent Muskol® . A document dated 1 October 1959 from the province of Nova Scotia registered the manufacture and sale of "Muskol® Lures" to Charles H. Coll. This was the starting point for a company which would last until 1982 when the rights to make and market the product were purchased by Schering-Plough Canada Ltd.

Charles H. Coll

Charles H. Coll – Inventor of Muskol®, 1951
Pictou County Characters – Don McGarva Collection

Charles Henry Coll was born in Stellarton, Nova Scotia on 19 October 1907 to Henry Edward "Harry" Coll and Elizabeth "Bess" Scott Sutherland.

Charles Coll was an avid outdoorsman and so, while living on MacLean Street in the early 1950s, Charles Coll began creating animal and fish lures. Documents from the Government of Nova Scotia dated 1 October 1959, show that he was registered from that date, to manufacture and sell a product called "Muskol® Lures". A little play-on-words produced the word "Muskol® " – which combined "musk", the scent produced by deer - and "call" meaning entice and "Coll" the surname.

And so began a small, family-owned business whose product name was often passed word-of-mouth among those who entered the forests – on this continent and others. Testimonials to Muskol® came from many areas and people, always saying that it was a superior product and that they wanted more!

In 1977, Charles and his son Harry, were inducted into the Honorary Order of the Kentucky Colonels, an organization that recognizes service and contribution to the global community and supports many kinds of charitable activities. The moniker "Colonel" stuck to Charles Coll and was used on the packaging of Muskol® – to this day, in fact.

Charles Coll – son of Harry and Bess – carried in his genes, strength in body, mind and character and a strain of ingenuity; he probably could be called a "Renaissance man". Because of his education and various jobs which included laboratory work for Leaver Brothers Limited in Boston and Tibbetts Paints in Trenton and as manager for Thompson and Sutherland Limited in New Glasgow, Charles Coll combined a unique set of circumstances, ideas and opportunities, which helped him invent and produce a line of products, one on which was Muskol® insect repellent.

The Coll family retained the rights to this product until 1982 when it was sold to Schering-Plough Canada Ltd. (which was later acquired in 2015 by Bayer Inc.), shortly after the death of Charles Coll. It was however, Charles Coll himself who had all but completed this sale when his death intervened 22 September 1982.

Charles Coll was, according to what we can read and what his friends and family say, a very special gentleman. He was a dedicated outdoorsman, an inventor, a family man – hard working, creative, determined. And Nova Scotia was indeed lucky to have enticed his father to our shores and to still have his descendants among us.

Excerpt from the Pictou County Characters – Don McGarva Collection, Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library, www.parl.ns.ca. Reproduced with their permission.