Thursday, 12 January 2012

canadian, eh?

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So, I left Canada last Saturday, am back in Barcelona and back and work, and pining a little bit for my home comforts, I have to confess. After my grandfather left I was able to move back into my cozy childhood bed and put my Hudson's Bay blanket on it. I'm obsessed with the Bay's (a department store that's been around, at first in the form of a fur-trading company, since 1670) iconic traditional blankets and similar products--check out my scarf here, for example. When I graduated high school my mom asked me what I wanted for a present, and I said a Hudson Bay blanket! I think she was a bit shocked, but anyway, I got it. And then I proceeded to live abroad for ten years so I never get to use it.

The history of the Hudson's Bay Company is inseparable from the history of Canada. I remember visiting some of the old forts when I was a child, and the beds were always laid with a blanket like mine, and we were told stories of the legendary voyageurs, canoe-travelling, fur-trapping, insouciant French Canadians at the height of the fur era. Of course, as with any history so long and important, there are many ironies and abuses along the way, which sometimes make me wonder if I'm right to love it as I do. Like it or not, the history is one of colonialism in Canada, and the Hudson's Bay Company was much stronger than a government in earlier periods of our history. Then there's the whole fur thing. Then there's the fact that it's a massive corporation. Then there's the thing that Canadians like least of all--it's owned my an American company now. As Canadians, we often define ourselves by what we are not, namely that we're not American, so the fact that this enormous piece of our history is in fact owned by them is a bit of a sore point (we'll have Tim Horton's back too, please). ; )

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I find nostalgia a difficult concept, especially with my pessimistic grandfather never failing to remind me that the ruling class has always been oppressing the rest of us (we have always been the 99%) or my parents there to say "the fifties: what a horrible damn decade!" But there are certain things I just have to love, like my Hudson Bay point blanket, my vintage Canadian pure-wool lumberjack shirt, or even a certain kind of Englishness as portrayed by the chubby robbins on this tea-cup. are among them. You can't really escape who you are, I guess.

I'm including a few shots I took in the downtown Vancouver store during the 2010 "spring" Olympics. The Hudson's Bay Company asked various Canadian designers (including Erdem, for example) to design a piece using the blankets. They were pretty amazing (just ignore the fur this once). : )

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(Shona was in love with the canoe)

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my 'outfit:' vintage lumberjack shirt, socks hand-knitted in North Yorkshire, England, Hudson Bay blanket, Dunoon tea cup (yes, the blanket and cup count as part of my outfit).

Misery personified facial expressions c/o the dentist.

European programming resumes next time, plus I promise I'll give plaid a little break! ; )

35 comments:

Che said...

That blanket is sooo cool! It's a shame that something so largely entwined with Canadian history is owned by America (and I say this as an American!)

shopgirl said...

I used to have a scharf from the bay this colour as a teenager and I worked for the Bay in Downtown Vancouver for almost 10 years and I just loved it! Thanks for bringing back some good memories!

Reese
http://rambleswithreese.etsy.com
http://rambleswithreese.blogspot.com

Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys said...

@Che: Yeah. No offense to Americans by the way... it's just that they can pay more and they take all our good stuff! Not buying Alaska was entirely our own fault though! ; D

Zane said...

adore the cozy photos of you with the tea cup

Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys said...

@Shopgirl: aw, yay. I love the downtown Vancouver Bay. : )

Emily, Resplendent Tranquility said...

That is too funny that you asked for a Hudson Bay blanket for your high school graduation present. My dad surprised me with a Pendleton blanket upon my graduation.

I'd heard about the purchase of the Hudson Bay Company, but I didn't realize that Tim Horton's was now American owned, too. I can understand how it's become a bit of a sore point, but were the purchases necessary to keep the companies afloat? I'd think, especially in the case of the Hudson Bay Company, that there would have been enough interest within Canada to keep it Canadian owned...

Anyway. Lumberjack shirt and hand-knitted socks - yes!

D'Autre Temps said...

the red coat is wonderful ... the details are superb!

Diana said...

I always learn something new when i visit you! I've always been a fan of these blankets as well but I never knew the history behind them! and btw i love all the plaid ;) xo


http://dressedupallligators.blogspot.com/

Tilly said...

I love Canada! It's such a beautiful country and I think the humour is much more British than your American neighbours? (plus i fell madly in love with a beautiful Canadian boy i met when i was travelling hehe. So this may also contribute to my love of the country!)

I've never heard of Hudsons Bay though, the patterns and colours are glorious! It looks so cozy! I know I must have said it a billion times but I'm so envious of your travels Emily <3 xx

elanor, said...

I don't know anything about the Hudson Bay company, but the little history you gave on it is intriguing. And the blanket/blanket clothes look so soft and lovely!
x

Closet Fashionista said...

Oooh such fun pieces! Yea...its sad when you like things that cause such controversy haha...but if you like them then try to forget about what everyone else thinks, ha ha
http://www.closet-fashionista.com/

Amber said...

I'm not familiar with Hudson Bay but those coats are pretty amazing. Bummer about the shop being owned by Americans now but hey Americans arent so bad :)

AnnaBananaCupcake said...

Don't you dare take off that plaid. It's completely wonderful on you and these photos make me think of staying cozy during the cold winter months. The blanket looks similar to a Pendelton cape that Isla (A Fine Day for Sailing) recently got. Sorry to hear that it's no longer Canadian owned.
XOXO

Virginie's Cinema said...

You, Canada and plaid sure seem to agree!

I adore the Bay coat with fur, gorgeousness!!

Virginie ♥

chantilly said...

i'm *dying* over that blanket!! my parents just opened a used/ vintage furniture store, and they go to auctions to get new inventory. when i was home this christmas, they took me to an auction. one of those blankets was there. it went for $60.... which i thought was outrageous, but evidently they're worth quite a bit more...

Natalie Suarez said...

super cute! i love it! xx

natalieoffduty.blogspot.com

Liesbeth said...

Hehe, your outfit description made me laugh, with cup and blanket :-)
It all looks so pretty, yet comfy too.

Rachel, Cold Knees said...

Love the blanket. And yes many Canadians I've met have defined themselves proudly as not being American :p My mum was married to a Canadian for a while and even lived there. Fun times xo

Eleni said...

The thing about nostalgia is that you have to remind yourself of the context...fur makes a lot more sense in a country where you habitually freeze your ass off even in these days of central heating and thermal clothing!

You look really cosy in these pictures - I love that you have a widow at eye level to your bed. There's no place like home :)

Sweet Harvest Moon said...

I miss Canada.. I can't wait to go back!

That blanket is amazing ;)

Amrit said...

Oh My God. Perfect picture - coffee and window...really good job ...(by photographer)

Carrie said...

Love that blanket - always wanted one, could never justify the price. Kind of like a Pendleton blanket (Washington state), but when we stopped at the factory, I did manage to take home a seconds blanket for a fairly good price.

I had someone tell me the other day that Canada and the U.S. were basically the same. As an American who has done a bit of traveling in Canada (and elsewhere around the world) and has several Canadian friends, I would totally disagree. Fine, our electrical outlets are the same, but otherwise, there are quite a few differences, as there are in all countries. Unique is good, so why people try to make us all the same is beyond me. :-)

Michal said...

I really enjoyed reading this- well written. :] Nostalgia is such a funny thing. It's so easy for me to see my past and my roots as idyllic, and I'm not sure that's always a good thing. I really do love that blanket though, and your plaid! Pretty, cozy-looking photos!

North Country Girl

Emily said...

@Amrit, the photographer is me in this case... so thank you!

@Carrie, thank you, I agree. Different doesn´t have to imply that anyone is better or worse, but obviously coming from an enormous country )population'wise, vs. a small one... has it´s impacts.

Terri said...

The Hudson Bay Parka I can see in the background of one shot IS something wonderful. Like you, I've admired these blankets since I was young and thought myself a "mountain woman." It was ingenious of you to ask for one as a graduation gift.

The Daily Fashionista said...

What a wonderful blanket!! I'd love to have something like that. It looks really well made.

Nicole, Coco Maria said...

This was a great read. In my family, everyone's super nostalgic and always reminiscing about how awesome things were 40 or 50 years ago, so it's funny to hear that your family's more realistic.
Also, those coats (and your blanket) are so great.

Sandra Leiva said...

Beautiful pictures! <3

Copper Garden said...

Id love to be able to see out of my window how you can from your bed! I love those outfits - so quirky!

Jessie
coppergarden.blogspot.com
xx

Ali said...

Oh I love these photos... they're so calm, dreamy, and cozy. The lighting is so lovely, too. They're just great! :)

Mitha Komala said...

oh i love your checkered red top dear, seems you had a great time sipping that tea (or coffee?), and those coats are uhmaaazing! I love your blog, all contents are amazing <3

follow me if you love to, and i’ll follow you back :)

http://mithakomala.blogspot.com/

Annebeth said...

these pieces are amazing, I totally get why you are so attached to them. I get really sentimental about roots too from time to time, mostly because my family has really torn away from their roots, I know hardly anything about my extended family or our family's history. That makes me sad.

rose said...

Hola Emily , yo amei las photos, mui hermosa.
Besos rose jp

Che said...

No offense taken. :] Haha you guys can have Alaska! It's too cold for us anyways.

Raquel, Black Sheep said...

Oh i want a bay blanket too, or a coat, or a scarf for that matter! I could have your shirt too! I don't give plaid up, you do use so well!