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canada avaCanadian national clothing was formed under the influence of Native Indians (who lived on these lands for centuries) and colonizers from Europe (who came to Canada in 17-18th century). Also traditional garments in Canada correspond with the weather conditions and climate in this part of the world. That's why traditional Canadian pieces of clothing are: parkas, tuques, ojibwa shirts, mittens, ear muffs and so on.

The history of Canadian traditional costume (actually, many people think that there is no traditional garment in Canada, but still some pieces of clothing can be considered as their national dress) begins during the era of Native Indians. In 17th century the traditional dress begins to change fluently into more European one. Why?

One of the most important things for the Native Indians in Canada was to keep the tradition in everything. Every tribe had its traditional garment, jewelry and style of face painting. Tribes lived far from each other and didn't contact often. So, every tribe managed to keep its own dress untouched and unchanged for centuries.

Blackfoot
Blackfoot making sweet grass medicine for a ceremony

But after colonizers came to Canada Native Indian tribes lost some of their territories. They were forced to live closer to each other. So, they began to borrow each other's tribal dress. In that period the most popular clothing among Indians were feather headdresses, fringed buckskin clothing, and woven blankets.

In 19th century Native Indians were wearing beaded jackets and shirts, woolen sweaters, Seminole patchwork skirts, ribbon shirts, satin shawls, jingle dresses, broad ribbon applique, and the Cherokee tear dress.

New settlers from Europe brought new fashion to Canadian lands. And this fact changed the whole clothing tradition in this country forever.

Men's clothing from ancient times till today

Dress of Native Indians

Mostly the Natives wore (and they still do) trousers with a kind of skirt onto them. It was the most popular clothing of Native Indians: the breech clout or breech cloths – rectangular piece of cloth or leather which was belted and worn with leather leggings (or without it). Some tribes wore kilts and fur trousers.

Canadian Native Indians mostly didn't wear shirts in summer. They used leather shirts for cold season. Their clothes were very natural (made of natural materials and painted in natural colors) and beautiful, with quillwork, beadwork, feather elements and decorations made of wood and bone. Also clothing of Native Indians was often painted in different colors, just like their skin.

Blackfoot Chiefs
Three Blackfoot Chiefs wearing traditional clothing, including typical eagle feather war bonnet and two straight-up headdresses. On the picture are: Wolf Plume (left), Curly Bear (center), and Bird Rattler (right).

But the most unusual and distinctive piece of clothing of Native Indians was the headdress. Usually it was made of feathers and was very large and bright. And almost every tribe had its own traditional type of headgear and formal clothing.

Shoes of Native Canadians were made of leather as well as clothes. They wore moccasins, which were comfortable, soft and silent when walking – necessary features for a hunter. There also were mukluks (heavier boots).

Garments of colonial period

In general, garments of first Canadian settlers were made by pattern of French and then English fashion.

When first colonizers came to Canada in 17th century, they wore clothes which they brought from Europe. Only some parts of clothing were made locally from leather and fur. Garments for new settlers were brought to Canada from France and other countries by ships. So, people were wearing European style garments, but because of a time lag of at least a year between the initiation of a style in Europe and its appearance in Canada, settlers got old-fashioned clothes. That's why Canadian fashions in 17th and 18th century were: men's wigs, rich fabrics and elegant lace. Men wore breeches (slightly below the knee trousers). The settlers were very conservative, they tried to keep traditions of the Old World. So, they were pretty conservative in clothing unlike people in France, from where dressing was brought.

But only wealthy settlers could order and buy garments from Europe. The clothing of simple workers was much simpler and cheaper. Mostly it was made at home by workers themselves, sometimes people bought some pieces of clothing from local weavers and other craftsmen.

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Garments of Canadian new settlers, 18th century

In 19th century men in Canada wore ordinary trousers (instead of breeches), waist-length jackets, hooded capotes and other clothes made of English cloth, which was delivered by ships.

During centuries of living in Canada new settlers adopted a lot of features and tips in dressing from Native Indians. They began to use leather and fur, especially in everyday garments. Also people began to wear moccasins, leggings, blanket capotes (which transformed into a greatcoat) etc.

Present-day clothing

Actually, Canadians don't have general national costume, because the population of this country was formed by a mix of nations: Native Indians, Frenchmen, Englishmen and others. But there are some pieces of clothing that are typical for present-day Canadians. Fashion in Canada today still depends much on the weather and climate conditions. That's why people wear parkas, long john's (an undergarment, basically long underwear), ear muffs, scarves, gloves, mittens, tuques (woolen caps), various jackets made of linen and leather, leggings, ojibwa shirts, trousers, and moccasins. These are unisex clothes, good for both men and women.

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Costume of The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which is recognized in the world as a typical Canadian dress

 

Women's clothing from ancient times till today

Dress of Native Indians

The Native Canadian women mostly wore shirts, skirts and leggings, but the design, material and decorations were different from tribe to tribe. In some tribes shirts were optional and were used only as a coat. Other women always wore shirts, tunics or mantles in public. There were also American Indian dresses, which replaced shirts, skirts and leggings in some Indian tribes in Canada.

indian-women
Native Indian Pow Wow

Native Indian women wore same shoes as man: moccasins or mukluks.

Garments of colonial period

In 17th-19th century women in Canada wore separate tops and skirts. Also they wore corset bodices (they were waist-long and sleeveless), chemises (knee-length undergarments which could function for the working classes as blouses), petticoats (skirts), aprons and caps. Similar clothing was warn in Europe in the same period, especially in France, England and Spain.

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New settlers in Canada, 17th century

But garments in Canada depended much on the weather conditions and the way of life in this part of the world. For example, women couldn't wear shoes made for English roads in Canada. They preferred flexible leather moccasins, which were much more comfortable, warm and appropriate. Still new Canadian settlers tried hard to follow the European fashion. They ordered clothes and fashion magazines, shared every new information about fashion and style etc.

The most loved among Canadian women were long wide skirts, corsets and waist-long jackets.

Present-day clothing

Actually, Canadians don't have general national costume, because the population of this country was formed by a mix of nations: Native Indians, Frenchmen, Englishmen and others. But there are some pieces of clothing that are typical for present-day Canadians. Fashion in Canada today still depends much on the weather and climate conditions. That's why people wear parkas, long john's (an undergarment, basically long underwear), ear muffs, scarves, gloves, mittens, tuques (woolen caps), various jackets made of linen and leather, leggings, ojibwa shirts, trousers, and moccasins. These are unisex clothes, good for both men and women.

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Clothing collection for the 2010 Winter Olympics, but ordinary people in Canada wear just the same clothes every day

Comments  

#5 cory 2017-10-15 22:43
thanks for the help
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#4 Fbfvdf 2016-03-14 13:35
:lol: 8) :P :D this artical is sssooo helpfull
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#3 someone 2016-01-29 19:53
:D :lol: :-) so helpful
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#2 BOB 2016-01-25 07:38
Canada has no culture.
Every other place does.
Its a melting pot. No identity.

Welcome to "multiculturalism".
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#1 James 2015-08-29 06:05
Every culture has features and peculiarities, familiar only to the people of this nation. And it’s very interesting to learn about traditional clothing from natives. That’s why if you have something to say about your national costume, please, do it using comments. Tell us things which you know about your country’s cultural heritage. Other people will discover something new for them thanks to you.
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Add comment

Every culture has features and peculiarities, familiar only to the people of this nation. And it’s very interesting to learn about traditional clothing from natives. That’s why if you have something to say about your national costume, please, do it using comments. Tell us things which you know about your country’s cultural heritage. Other people will discover something new for them thanks to you.

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