M934.2.6 | Blanket coat
About 1880, 19th century
Gift from Mrs. Aileen Bunting
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Coat (40)
Keys to History
This blanket coat was the main item in the outfit worn by women to go snowshoeing, skating or tobogganing. The ensemble include homespun breeches, a coat, a ceinture fléchée (arrowhead sash), a tuque, mittens, moccasins and snowshoes. The coat itself, as well as the ceinture fléchée, resembled the costume of the "habitants" and the Amerindians.
The number of snowshoeing clubs grew quickly in the 19th century, and the most famous of all these clubs was no doubt the Montreal Snowshoe Club. During the winter months, this club organized snowshoe outings every week on Mount Royal in which mostly members of the English-speaking middle-class elite took part.
Sports clubs attracted few workers. Since they only had one day off a week, they had little time to devote to the practice and organization of recreational activities and many of them did not have the means to pay the fees to join those clubs.
This Montreal Snowshoe Club outfit was made by machine. The coat and the lining are wool, while the ribbons are silk and the buttons are mother of pearl.
The snowshoers of the Montreal Snowshoe Club often stopped at the midpoint in the route on Mount Royal at Charles Lumkin's Half-Way Inn to have a drink or two.
Blanket coats were ideal for snowshoeing and tobogganing since they were made of a warm material that provided protection from the wind.
At the end of the 19th century, participation by women in male sports activities was frowned upon. Women who belonged to the wealthier classes might sometimes be invited by sports clubs, but none were ever accepted as members.