Nothing is more quintessentially Canadian than wearing a Touque (or Tuque). Sporting these tight fighting, rolled brim hats (plus or minus a pompom), with your favourite hockey shirt makes you the ultimate Hoser!
On a less ridiculous note, we have to give credit for the origins of the Touque to some much more courageous and innovative men, the Voyageurs of New France. Also known as the Coureurs Des Bois, or “Runners of the Woods”, the Voyageurs were independent contractors who managed the trade between the First Nations people and the English and French Trading Companies.
The Voyageur ensemble consisted of the Touque, a “Capot” or blanket jacket with a hood, and breeches or trousers. Most Voyageurs were pictured wearing an arrow woven sash, but we will discuss that later in the blog.
So, if you are feeling the need to bring out your inner Voyageur, try one of these Chapeaus! We love the Plucky Knitter “Conversationalist” Touques and the free pattern can be found HERE on Ravelry
And what could be better than a Touque with a big old Maple Leaf on it! Amanda Kaffka has designed a wonderful “Canadian Slouchy Hat”…perfect for Canada’s 150th birthday! We have made up a kit for you (with proceeds to Amanda for her great design), in Berroco Ultra Alpaca Chunky. Click HERE to order the kit
One unique Canadian community is our Metis population. “The Metis people originated in the 1700s when French and Scottish fur traders married Aboriginal women, such as the Cree and Anishinabe (Ojibway). Their descendants formed a distinct culture, collective consciousness and nationhood in the Northwest. Distinct Metis communities developed along the fur trade routes”. The Metis have wonderful a wonderful intricate beadwork and weaving tradition.
Much prized as a trading item, there is controversy surrounding this practice to today. Many of the First Nation’s people were almost completely wiped out by smallpox infested blankets. Other historians write about the HBC staff trying to care for and eventually immunize the Aboriginal peoples against this horrible disease.
Nonetheless, the Red, Green, Blue and Yellow stripes on the blanket are a much loved and recognizable Canadian treasure. Knitters have reproduced the pattern and we have a suggestion for HBC knit. Purl Soho has a wonderful, free pattern for a Hudson Bay inspired Crib Blanket. If you would like to see our kit, click HERE for more information. We have made it up in Berroco Vintage, a wonderful machine washable worsted weight yarn.
We must cherish our inheritance. We must preserve our nationality for the youth of our future. The story should be written down to pass on.