Beaver Hats to Hockey Pads was originally published as an essay for the catalogue accompanying the exhibition I curated about felt for the Textile Museum of Canada in 1999-2000. This version has been edited and expanded to form a series of posts that is not so much a chronology as it is a collection of stories using felt objects to illustrate aspects of Canadian history and culture from colonization though popular culture.
Felt follows the fur trade through millenary traditions, grows with manufacturing side by side with steel, and peaks through World War II and the subsequent wave of optimism in North American engineering and design. Felt struggles through an era of globalization, but continues unrivalled in some industries, remaining contemporary in quality and sustainability.
Felt is an ancient material, but this is a new-world history that traces the material culture of modern manufactured felt in a North American context. It is at once a series of cliches and a story of survival as felt is worn through use, through weather and through time.
Stay tuned for the series of weekly posts starting October 2017.