Wednesday, February 24, 2016

HBC Factory Men Winter Dress

A description of the winter dress of the HBC Factory men in and around Hudson Bay, as recorded by T. Drage - "An account of a voyage for the discovery of a nort-west passage,,,,,,, 1747-1748"

" The intense cold weather did not come on this year sooner than common. The beginning of November is usually the time that the Factory People have their Winter-Clothing delivered them; which consists of Coats of Beaver-skins sewed together, shaped much like a great coat but no seams at the sides or back. These coats they gather up around with a belt; and with thongs tie them close to the breast. They have large mittens of beaver skins, that hang before them by a string, which goes round their shoulders, that they may have their hands at liberty, to take in or out, as any occasion may require; viz. To charge and fire their guns, or set their traps. They have caps, the crown of which is of cloth, the flaps of which reach down to the shoulders, and button close under the chin, are of Beaver-skin; and those who do not use caps, have martin or cat skin wigs. Some, most excessive weather, will wear pieces of Beaver-skin over the face, as high s to the eyes. On their legs and feet, have three pairs of woollen socks; one just comes to the instep, the other to the ankle, and the third two flaps of the sock almost all the way up the leg. Over these socks they wear a shoe made of moose or deer skin, of the Indian dressing, soft and pliable, much like to wafh(? wash?) leather (for if the feet are any way confined they immediately freeze); these shoes are without heels. They have a stocking of woolen cloth, which reaches to their shoe; and, by strings on each side, they tie the stocking to the shoe, so as nothing can get in between. the stocking is made like a spatterdash, only hangs loose about the ankles, not fitting close as a spatterdash does; for, being loose, the snow shakes off easier; and if close, the snow lying there must freeze the leg. The stockings are not buttoned as a spatterdash, but sewed up on the side; and beyond the seam there is left a flap all the way down, which protects the seam from the snow. The stockings reach up to the crutch; but are gartered under the nee, generally with garters which are made by the Indians, of porcupine quills, coloured, and having strips of leather at the end. Every Factory man hath his gun; a pouch on one side, a powder horn on the other. To their belt, with which they tie up their coats, they have a bag hanging behind them, which they call a Skipper Toakin, containing a wooden tinder box, a flint, and a steel. This bag sometimes made of cloth, at other times of leather, some ornamented , by the Indians, with Brass-work ( the Brass, the remains of their old Kettles) and other beads. It is usual also to carry a small hatchet at their belt. that in case of losing their way they can cut down wood and build a Barricado, or thick hedge of pine, to cover them from the wind; and with a good fire before them, as there is no thaw or moisture, there is not anything to be feared as to catching of cold, nor as to freezing, from the intense cold that the fire protects them from." ",,,, The hatchets are also useful to them for repairing their traps,,," ",,,,, some of the Factory servants themselves only wear Coats made of leather, or moose-skin, dressed by the Indians, which are loose and long, something like a Banyan. Blankets, and even a good great coat, will do as to the body, the principal care required being as to the extreme parts, as to the feet and legs, arms and hands, these must be secured, as also the head, and these parts the Indians take principal care of, both as to themselves and their children."