Le costume traditionnel, a study of clothing and textiles in the town of Quebec 1635-1760

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Tomczyszyn, Pat
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For a number of decades Canadian historians have documented clothing and textiles of New France resulting in publications on historic costume worn in Montreal, Trois-Rivieres, Ile d'Orleans, and Louisbourg. Except for occupation-specific studies that focus on the material life of the Quebec colonist, no general study has been made on the costume worn, and textiles used, in Quebec. This thesis presents a portrait of the men, women, and children of Quebec from 1608 to 1760: the French regime. Did clothing and textiles of Quebec during this period mirror those of France? How did they differ from those already identified for Montreal, Trois-Rivieres, Ile d'Orleans, and Louisbourg? In what way did demographics, immigration, geographic, climactic, economic, trade, and Amerindian influences affect the costume worn in Quebec? Finally, did domestic textile manufacturing impact on the colonists? The answers to these questions began with a search of archival documents, a search made necessary by the paucity of extant garments in Canada. Of these, postmortem inventories, marriage contracts, and wills provided the base for documentation. These were supplemented by the journals and memoires of those living or exploring the area during the period under study. Secondary sources that detail clothing and textiles used in France during the same period provided the basis for comparison with those found in Quebec. This reconstruction of the costume and textiles worn by the Quebec colonist revealed they differed little from France. Furthermore, only a few of her colonists borrowed customs from the Amerindians. As well, no domestic textile production of any significance developed to advance widespread use of local fabrics. This is evidence of a relatively closed society where innovations were neither encouraged nor cultivated and one which steadfastly remained true to its cultural roots.