Clothes Brush

A well-loved clothes brush was purchased from the Hudson’s Bay Company in Victoria.
Posted February 29, 2024

A clothes brush is a handy tool for keeping favourite items free from dust and debris and looking their best. Perhaps more commonly used in the past, when most clothing was made from natural fibres like wool and linen, clothes brushes can be purchased today and are a preferred option for cleaning fine suits. Stiff bristles made from boar hair or horsehair are considered better than synthetic bristles, because they do less damage to clothing and can last a lifetime.

This example is a well-loved clothes brush with natural bristles. The record states that it was purchased from the first Hudson’s Bay Company retail store in Victoria and was used by the Todd family for more than sixty years, before being donated sometime in the 1920s to the then newly formed HBC Museum Collection.

The HBC department store in Victoria opened only in 1921. So the reference to a “first retail store” could indicate that the brush was purchased at either the sales shop that was based out of Fort Victoria — which was established in 1843 and then dismantled in the early 1860s — or the HBC location on Victoria’s Wharf Street that opened in 1859 during the Fraser River gold rush.

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Amelia Fay is the curator of the HBC Collection at the Manitoba Museum.

This article originally appeared in the April-May 2024 issue of Canada’s History.

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