Fur Trader's Jacket

Its exceptional quality is a reflection of the expert eye and skills of Lydia Catherine Christie.

Written by Maureen Mathews

February 2, 2016

Colour photograph

Donald Campbell McTavish, grandson of Hudson’s Bay Company Governor George Simpson, worked as an HBC clerk from 1864 to 1881 at Norway House.

The community in what is now northern Manitoba is known for producing fine, multicoloured silk embroidery, and McTavish acquired a large collection of beautiful pieces, including this jacket. The jacket is made from smoketanned moose and caribou hides, and the embroidery was executed using a tight buttonhole stitch. Jackets like this were worn by Métis fur traders and company men.

In the summer of 2014, Sarah Goulet, a young Métis doctor and a descendent of the politician Maxim Goulet, donated this and another jacket, adding to the McTavish collection at the Manitoba Museum.

The exceptional quality of the embroidered moccasins, mittens, and jackets in the collection is a reflection of the expert eye and skills of McTavish’s Métis wife, Lydia Catherine Christie.

Maureen Matthews is the curator of ethonology at the Manitoba Museum.

This article originally appeared in the February-March 2016 issue of Canada’s History.

This article is also available in French.

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