Canadian Fashion Connection – Bonnie Stuart

Bonnie Stuart shoes began as the Galt Shoe Manufacturing Company in 1910. Founded by E.C. Getty in Galt, Ontario, the company was sold or taken over by Dr. Joseph Radford and his son-in-law Andrew M. Stuart. Radford was a prominent physician, the city of Galt’s medical officer of health, a school board chair, and Galt’s mayor from 1895 to 1899.

The company began to specialize in children’s shoes but after a fire destroyed the Galt plant in 1922, the company moved to Kitchener, Ontario. The Bonnie Stuart brand was introduced in the 1940s, and in 1961 the company was renamed Bonnie Stuart Shoes Ltd. The company went out of business in the late 1990s.

Canadian Fashion Connection – Army & Navy (1919 – 2020)

In March 1919 Sam Cohen, a native of San Francisco, and his brothers Joe and Harry opened a store at 44 West Hastings Street in Vancouver, B.C. to sell surplus army boots. Originally known as the Liberty store, the name was changed to Army & Navy in 1922, probably to leverage the marketing from the long-established English Army & Navy stores. The store sold military surplus as well as goods from other stores closing down and even advertised its own closing in 1927 as a publicity gimmick, reopening as ‘new and improved’ months later.

The original location

Sam bought out his brothers and, in 1938, bought a five-storey building at 27 West Hastings St., turning the original location into a shoe annex. In 1948 he opened a new store on Cordova street and in 1959 bought the adjacent Rex Theatre to tear down the 1913 movie palace for a nondescript expansion. Over the years the business expanded across Western Canada to include stores in New Westminster, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw. The original location became famous for its annual shoe sale, first held in 1949.

Management of the business passed to his son Jack, but a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, necessitated bringing in Garth Kennedy, a non-family member, to help Jack manage the company for three decades. Jack’s son died of a drug overdose in 1978 and his eldest daughter died in a car crash in 1982, leaving his youngest daughter Jacqui to take over the family business, which she did after Jack died in 1995, and Kennedy died in 1998.

The Army and Navy became the longest running department store in Vancouver. However, department stores have been struggling with low profit margins since the 1980s, and even more so since the turn-of-the-century with online shopping. COVID-19 was too much for the business and the Army & Navy stores did not reopen after the quarantine shutdown in March.

The recently renovated Army & Navy department store, Vancouver

William H. Kennedy – Merchant Tailor

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries there were thousands of tailors, milliners, and dressmakers working across Canada. Some had labels that identified the name of their business and location, but most didn’t. A donation that came into the museum a few years ago had a label that identified the merchant tailor’s shop in Galt (Cambridge), and the name of the buyer. A merchant tailor was essentially a men’s wear shop that offered ready-made suits that could be adjusted to the buyer’s measurements.

The shop was owned by William H. Kennedy who was born in Caledonia, Ontario in about 1860. He learned his trade in merchant tailoring at establishments south of the border in Chicago and St. Louis, but by 1900 Kennedy had returned to Canada and set up a merchant tailoring business on Main street in Galt. He retired in 1915 and moved to California in the early 1920s, but returned to Canada in about 1929 and died in 1933.

The wearer of this suit is well known in local history. William Stahlschmidt was born in Germany in 1844 and immigrated to the United States with his family at the age of four.  In 1859 he came to Canada and trained to be a teacher. By 1869 he had become the principal of the Preston public school. He married in 1871, and in 1884 founded W. Stahlschmidt & Co., a business that specialized in making furniture for schools and businesses. In 1889 the company went public and was renamed the Canadian Office and School Furniture Company. Stahlschmidt died in 1929 and that same year the company amalgamated with the Preston furniture company that survived until the 1960s.

Chapman Brothers Ltd. jewellers (1874 – c. 1977)

Benjamin Chapman presumably learned the watchmaking and jewellery trade from his father who had established a jewellery business in Dublin, Ireland in 1814. Benjamin worked for 16 years as a jeweller in Belfast before immigrating to Canada in 1864. Ten years later he established his own business at 261 Yonge street in Toronto. 

B. Chapman’s shop offered imported clocks and jewellery from England and Germany. In January, 1890 The Trader & Canadian Jeweller reported that his store had recently installed the “new Edison incandescent electric lighting”, which “shows off their handsome goods to great advantage.” 

William James Chapman (1911 – 1999) great grandson of Benjamin, was the last owner of the family business that remained in operation until at least 1977. In 1979 the original building was given heritage status and today it houses a Tim Horton’s on the main floor.

Canadian Fashion Connection – KIEN (K’Ien) Jewellery

Founded in Montreal by Naila Jaffer on February 3, 1986, K’Ien Art Concept Ltee. was listed as a wholesale distributor of jewellery. This means they didn’t manufacture the pieces, but had them made (probably in Canada) with their label.

The company didn’t survive the early 90s recession. Their last annual general meeting was held in 1991, they failed to file after 1994 and were dissolved for non-compliance by the Canadian government on March 6, 2000.

The difficult to read label that looks like KTFM is actually K’IEN.

Canadian Fashion Connection – Anita Pineault

Anita Pineault, late 1980s

The oldest of nine siblings, Anita Chouinard was born in Quebec in 1917. Her last name was changed to Pineault when she married. When he left to serve in Europe during World War II Anita took a job with the Montreal firm Nadel Hat. Her talent was quickly realized by owner Teddy Nadel and she was soon promoted to design for the company.

Anita launched her own company in the 1950s and, with high standards, built a successful international business, exporting hats to New York and making hats for designer collections. In later years she launched a line of scarves. In the late 1980s she sold her company to European interests and retired to Kingston Ontario. She passed away at the age of 92 on January 20, 2009.

Thanks to themerchantsofvintage for finding an obit that opened research doors!

Canada’s First Black Model – Johanne Harelle

Joanne Harelle with Montreal designer Michel Robichaud, early 1960s

A year before the first American black model, Donyale Luna, graced the pages of Harper’s Bazaar, Johanne Harelle retired from her modelling career in Canada.

Johanne Harelle was born Joan Harell to a French Canadian mother and West Indian father in Montreal on January 29, 1930. She spoke English until her father died of tuberculosis when she was three and her mother was confined to a sanitarium for treatment of the same disease. Joan and her two younger brothers were sent to an orphanage where the nuns altered her name to a French spelling, and required her to speak French.

After finishing school, Joan worked as a maid, waitress, accountant, nightclub photographer, lab technician, and eventually, as a professional model from about 1957 to 1963. “I suffered from a little racism.” she recounted in a 1983 interview “There were a few incidents but not many.” While modelling, she met film-maker Claude Jutras and had a three year love affair with him, which also lead to some acting work. In 1963 she married a French sociologist and moved to Paris the following year. In 1981 she wrote her autobiography Un Lecon, and after a divorce, moved back to Montreal where she died on August 4, 1994.

Johanne Harelle in the trailer for A Tout Prendre, a 1963 film by Canadian director Claude Jutras

CAFTCAD awards

Kenn and I attended the second annual Canadian Alliance of Film and Television Costume Arts and Design (CAFTCAD) awards on Sunday night. We both served on juries to narrow down the entries for nomination. It’s great to see the industry recognize the work of all the various jobs in the costuming field.

Taking home awards for their work included costumers from the productions: Lemony Snicket: A Series of Unfortunate Events, Murdoch Mysteries, and The Terror. Linda Muir was recognized for her costume design in the film The Lighthouse, and Juul Hallmeyer was honoured with an Industry Icon award for his body of work, which included costuming S.C.T.V. Congratulations to all the CAFTCAD 2020 nominees and winners.

At the reception after the event we managed to take a few shots of some of the more interesting fashions, and also look at a display of costumes done by nominees:

Kitchener-Waterloo Ontario – a city of fashion in 1940

Found this interesting article from the July 15, 1940 issue of MacLeans Magazine, about the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo. A large part of the article ensures readers that although the population has a large German heritage, it is not in support of Hitler. Details in how the cities raised money for the war effort then gives way to an overview of local industry, of which fashion related industries are detailed. 

According to the article, the Kitchener Board of Trade boasts that the city “makes more shirts, builds more furniture, manufactures more tires, fashions more footwear, and tans more leather than any other city in Canada.’’ 

Twenty-five percent of the 42,000 who live in the two cities arrived in the previous twenty years (1920 – 1939) and were employed in the city’s industries that included:

“The B. F. Goodrich Rubber Company of Canada makes not only Goodrich tires, but rubber footwear there. The Kaufman Rubber Company, a Kitchener institution from away back, also makes rubber footwear, as does the Merchants’ Rubber factory, now affiliated with the Dominion Rubber organization…

There are ten Kitchener companies engaged in the manufacture or processing of textiles, two of them rating international status. Here is the head office of Cluett Peabody and Company of Canada, producing the Arrow lines of men’s shirts and furnishings. This organization, of course, is linked with the original Cluett Peabody company of the United States.

John Forsyth, Limited, making Forsyth shirts, underwear, pyjamas, cravats and handkerchiefs, is entirely a Kitchener enterprise, and its growth is a matter of considerable local pride. The Forsyth company has two plants, one in Kitchener, the other in Waterloo. Mr. J. D. C. Forsyth, president of the organization, maintains two homes in the Kitchener-Waterloo district, a city residence and a farm where he raises prize cattle.

Other Kitchener textile products include glove linings, knitted fabrics, rayon, jersey cloth and twine. There are five companies making buttons—the town has always been a big button producer—and three of these, the Dominion Button Manufacturers, Limited, Kitchener Buttons, Limited, and the Mitchell Button Company, sell their goods all across Canada.

Twenty-three Kitchener companies manufacture boots and shoes and other leather products. Eleven companies, Ontario Shoes, Limited; Valentine and Martin. Limited; the W. E. Woelffe Shoe Company; Western Shoe Company; Charles A. Ahrens, Limited; the Bauer Shoe Company; the E and S Shoe Company; the Galt Shoe Manufacturing Company; the Hydro City Shoe Manufacturers Limited; and the Kitchener Shoe Company, make leather footwear. The Bauer and Western shoe companies also make skates. Other concerns turn out cut soles, shoe patterns, leather washers, and leather ties and braces.

The L. McBrine Company makes the widely known McBrine line of trunks, bags and other travel accessories in Kitchener. The names of Breithaupt and Lang, associated with the leather industry since its first beginnings in this area, are represented by three companies; the Breithaupt Leather Company, the Lang Tanning Company, and John A. Lang and Sons. There are three companies producing gloves, mitts and gauntlets; the Barrie Glove and Knitting Company, the Huck Glove Company, and the Ontario Glove Company. Canadian Consolidated Felt Company, and the W. G. Rumpel Felt Company make commercial felts.”

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