Monday, April 13, 2015

The Capote Coat

A popular clothing item for the Metis (as well as many other Native Americans and Voyageurs) was the capote.

No, not this Capote!!!

Ah, that's better...

Some were made of leather, some of blue wool, some white, some gray. Many were made from a single Hudson Bay Blanket, like the one pictured above. As you can see, they are long - thigh-length, with long sleeves, a hood, and were often held together by a Metis sash. Some incorporated buttons and thongs, as well. 

The wool worked great in the winter, since it could hold the wearer's heat, even when the wool got wet.

Hudson Bay Blankets were (and still are) very desirable. You can still buy them today.

This is called a Hudson Bay Point Blanket - the black lines on the left side are called 'points' and helped shopkeepers determine its size even while it remained folded on a shelf.

You can still buy Hudson Bay Point Blankets. Here's a link to a variety on Amazon.

Blackfoot Man wearing Capote circa 1910

Pictured here are members of the Montreal Snow Shoe Club in 1886.
Who knew capotes could make you fly?

Here's an 1845 painting by Paul Kane  with men wearing non-Hudson Bay Blanket capotes:

Portrait of Captain John Henry Lefroy

Lefroy's capote looks like it could be made of leather, and his companion with his back to us wears one of grey wool. Both of them wear a sash with a fire bag attached to it.

In case you're interested in making your own capote, here are a couple websites I found with instructions. 

If you decide to make one, or already have one, send a picture of you wearing it, and I'll put it on my blog!

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