Canadian Fashion Connection – Newlands

Andrew Newlands was born in Scotland in 1840, and was married with two children when he immigrated with his family to Canada in the late 1860s. In the 1871 census he is recorded as working as the superintendent of a woollen mill in Preston, Ontario. In 1884 he opened his own mill in Galt, Ontario making jersey cloth, glove and shoe linings, among other products.

By 1890 he had opened another business called the Galt Robe Company that made “Saskatchewan Robes” – a brand name lap rug for use in sleighs and carriages. With the extinction of the vast herds of Buffalo on the Western Plains, the large haired buffalo hide robes, which had been popularly used as sleigh and carriage rugs, could no longer be found. Newlands created a substitute robe he felt imitated the qualities of the buffalo robe by using multiple layers of wool blankets, a rubber membrane (for waterproofing), an imitation lambskin for softness, and a piled wool that loosely resembled buffalo hide.

Saskatchewan ‘buffalo’ carriage robe, c. 1890s

Newlands died in 1899. Who owned the mills for the next 16 years isn’t clear, but the company continued to operate under the Newlands name. In 1916, 36 year old George Dobbie bought a half share interest with his partner Joseph Stauffer, merged Galt Robe with Newlands, and officially changed the name of the company to Stauffer-Dobbie Ltd., although the Newlands brand of yarn continued to be made until around the time of George Dobbie’s death in 1951. The yarn brand’s name was then changed to Lady Galt (a line of towels was also called Lady Galt which were produced into the 1970s.)

1948 Newland’s knitting book (and apparently the last one printed under the Newlands’ name) with 1947’s Miss Canada on the cover.

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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2 Responses to Canadian Fashion Connection – Newlands

  1. Deborah ROSS says:

    Good day…I have one of the buffalo robes as mentioned in your article. My husband is interested in possibly selling it. Any recommendations?

    • Jonathan says:

      I would be interested in acquiring one in good condition for the Fashion History Museum, but I can only offer a tax receipt for its fair market value. Otherwise, all I can suggest is kijiji, or consignment through a local antique store. It would get the most interest in the Cambridge area where it was manufactured.

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