II-119956 | Miss Fraser, Montreal, QC, 1897

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Miss Fraser, Montreal, QC, 1897
Wm. Notman & Son
1897, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
12 x 17 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  female (19035) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

Keeping your head covered is an almost universal sign of female modesty and in the 19th century, Canadian women were equally subject to this unwritten law. Yet ironically, some of the most stylish women's hats were anything but modest.

Following fashion trends set in France, Canadian women of means could be seen sporting elaborate, intentionally eye-catching headpieces. In 1872 one journalist described the typical bonnet of his day as "that meaningless little nutshell outrageously decked with bunches of ribbons, flowers, feathers, which gives at present to our wives and daughters so alarming a look of insanity."

Source : Straitlaced: Restrictions on Women [Web tour], by Elise Chenier, McGill University (see Links)

  • What

    This is one of two photographic portraits of Miss Fraser.

  • Where

    This portrait was taken in William Notman's studio in Montreal. Notman died in 1891, but his staff of over 30 kept the studio open and successful for many more

  • When

    The picture was taken in 1897.

  • Who

    Two thirds of the staff at the Notman studio were women. This was an unusually high number of female employees for the time.