If you google “how to dress as a Canadian for Halloween” you’re not going to get many hits. You might find something about hockey players, hosers (those beer drinking, tuque wearing guys) and the red-haired Anne of Green Gables. But Canadian history offers up many more colourful characters. Flipping through the 1964 booklet “Lets Make Costumes” by the Boy Scouts of Canada, you’ll find some interesting, albeit controversial, suggestions from another era.
Here is the good, the bad, and the ugly of vintage Canadian costumes:
1. General Wolfe — The British soldier famous for his victory over the French at the Battle of Quebec in Canada in 1759. Perhaps not the most politically correct choice for those of you who live in la belle province.
If you’re a bit more trendy, you could try dressing as a soldier from the War of 1812. It’s our Prime Minister’s favourite war, and we’ve already spent $28 million to commemorate the event. Still, be careful if you wear this costume in the US. They still think they won that war.
2. Coureurs to Bois — You’ve got to love those rugged French Canadian traders (“runners of the woods”). A good bet — unless you bump into someone who objects to Canada’s fur trade. Stick to fake fur just to be safe.
3. Aboriginal people (the term “Indian” was dropped years ago) — Consider this “what not to wear.” Dressing as a First Nations, Inuit or Métis person is now widely viewed as appropriating another person’s culture. If you’re not Aboriginal, just don’t do it. We can honour our Aboriginal brothers and sisters in so many other ways.
4. Cowboys/Cowgirls — Yes, Canada still has real cowboys, cowgirls, rodeos and ranches. So put on your stetson and go round up some candy!
5. RCMP — The iconic red-coated mountie is a great idea for a costume. When this booklet was published, women weren’t allowed in the RCMP. That changed in 1974, so let’s see girls donning the red-coat and breeches.
6. Astronaut — Finally, someone we can look up to (literally). We watched Canada’s most famous astronaut, Chris Hadfield, tweet and sing through space this year, while serving as commander of the International Space Station. Who doesn’t love this guy? And it’s the perfect costume for girl or boy.
You can check out my suggestions from last year here: No-sew vintage costumes: Five tips to avoid suffocation and spontaneous combustion while you’re wearing them.