Canadian Fashion Connection: D. McCall & Co.

The wholesale millinery business of D. McCall & Co., was established in 1879 by Dougald McCall and William Blackley (Blackley had immigrated to Montreal from Scotland in 1860 and moved to Toronto in 1866.) The business was originally located at 51 Yonge Street, but soon outgrew the premises and moved to 12 and 14 Wellington street, a stone building consisting of 36,000 square feet over five floors. An advertisement from 1886 boasts that they employed 17 clerks and salesmen in the showroom, 125 women in the factory, and 9 commercial travellers who sold McCall millinery throughout Canada.

The business imported undecorated hat forms and finished hats from France, Germany, England, and the United States, as well as all the trimmings associated with millinery including feathers imported from around the world. By 1892 they had opened a branch in Montreal. That same year, the Canadian Dry Goods Review promoted their business in February as having a huge variety of “Hats and bonnets, flowers, ribbons, laces, silks, jet goods, veilings, trimmings of all kinds… We almost forgot to mention the magnificent range of mantles which this firm carry”.

The business expanded to Winnipeg in 1900, with the Toronto location moving to new premises some time thereafter. Web search results for the company dating after 1900 drop off suggesting that the company closed sometime during the 1900s or early 1910s. It could be that the company closed with the death of McCall and/or Blackley.

The last Toronto location of D. McCall Co., c. 1910, address unknown

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.
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