II-60041.1 | Mr. Waldo in "Tudor" costume, Montreal, QC, 1881

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Mr. Waldo in "Tudor" costume, Montreal, QC, 1881
Notman & Sandham
1881, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on paper - Albumen process
14.9 x 9.4 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  male (26812) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

Historical costumes were the most popular category for both men and women. Edward Waldo is seen here dressed as a "Portuguese Officer of the 16th Century." Mr. Waldo wore this costume to several different balls and carnivals in the 1880s, in both Ottawa and Montreal. Like women, men in fancy dress, enjoyed flouting everyday conventions. Under no other circumstances would Victorian men ever expose this much of their legs. Journalists chronicled a great deal of anxiety among men over the adequacy of their legs and the decision to expose their calves or thighs.

There were limits to the liberties that could be taken, however. Mr. Waldo was the organizer of the carnival in Ottawa in 1881 attended by the Misses Allan. His signature appears on a typical advertisement that clearly sets the boundaries required for such events to retain their moral character: "No gentleman will be allowed to personate a female character. Personations of members of religious orders will not be permitted." A final rule stated that masks could be worn only with permission, which was rarely granted.

Ottawa Free Press, 18 January 1881.

Cynthia Cooper, "Dressing Up: A Consuming Passion," in Fashion: A Canadian Perspective, ed. Alexandra Palmer (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, forthcoming) .

  • What

    Edward Waldo's costume incorporates very short breeches over tights, exposing his thighs, though his calves are hidden by boots. Fancy dress balls were virtually the only social situation where men exposed their legs.

  • Where

    This photograph was probably taken in the Notman studio in Montreal, where Mr. Waldo attended Mrs. D. Lorn Macdougall's ball and a skating carnival two weeks later.

  • When

    Mr. Waldo wore this costume at least three times in 1881, when this photograph was taken, and again in 1889. He had it remade for another ball in 1896.

  • Who

    Edward Waldo's love of fancy dress is evident in the number of events he attended, and fact that he organized the skating carnival in Ottawa in 1881.