M992.69.13 | Ribbon

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Creative Commons License
About 1900, 19th century or 20th century
3.5 cm
Gift of Mr. Darrell Legge
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Ribbon (4)
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Keys to History

Yet it would be inaccurate to paint working-class existence as unrelentingly bleak. Although faced with privations, workers also had moments of joy and found ways to beautify their daily existence. Adults and children sometimes chose to spend money on fun or frivolity. What young woman would not set aside a little money to buy new combs or striped ribbons for her hair? What young man did not enjoy smoking a pipe or chewing tobacco? City life also had attractions that even those of the most modest means could afford. The popular press provided details of the most recent murder, a workers' column, sports news, serial novels. Amusement parks offered open-air cafés, orchestra concerts and strolls in an enchanting setting.

  • What

    A piece of silk ribbon with colourful yellow, turquoise and green stripes would undoubtedly have been a source of pride and pleasure to a young woman in the late 19th century.

  • Where

    Ribbons were essential to female adornment. They embellished hair, hats and bonnets. Most ribbons sold in Canada were imported from England and France.

  • When

    The ribbon industry expanded tremendously in the first half of the 19th century, thanks to the mechanization of the looms used.

  • Who

    Women of all walks of life wanted ribbons, as can be seen from the novels of Zola and letters from working women alike.