How can I write a blog this week and NOT mention the Winter Olympics?  You may be asking yourself how could the Canoe Museum possibly relate to the Sochi Olympics?

Well, here is the official Canadian Olympic Team opening ceremony outfit (you can read more here):

HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY - Canadian Olympic Uniform

Stylish Canadian Olympic Team opening ceremony outfits designed by HBC

And here’s a photo from our Hudson’s Bay Blanket Coat workshop, which happened here at the Canoe Museum on February 8th (the day after the opening ceremonies):

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Just some finishing touches left

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Similar?  I think so!

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HBC Olympic coat from 1965

It’s definitely a good year for a warm coat and they don’t come much warmer than a capote – a beautiful coat made from a thick wool Hudson’s Bay Company point blanket.  The HBC point blanket has a long history in Canada and so does the idea of turning a wool blanket into a coat, or other warm clothing, to get you through the winter. The Olympic coats designed by HBC are certainly a modern take on an idea that the Bay has been keeping alive for a long time. Check out this ‘Olympic’ coat (to the left) from 1965.

Our workshop is more of a glimpse into the past, replicating a voyageur style blanket coat like those that would have been worn during the fur trade era.

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It was a great class and everyone was so excited to see their coats taking shape.

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Sewing sleeve number one!

With myself and Ipie (one of our amazing volunteer instructors) guiding the process students followed a traditional pattern, which leaves some room for changes and choices that make every coat as individual as the person sewing it.

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Ipie helping a student with a sleeve

And everyone made a beautiful coat!  Here are some lovely ladies from the workshop modeling their amazing handy-work:

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Lovely ladies from the workshop in their fabulous blanket coats

You can learn more about the history of HBC Blankets here.  Or check out the book ‘The Blanket’ from our Gift Store here.

If you have your own blanket already and don’t have the time to take the workshop you can buy the pattern and instructions from our Gift Store too!

If you’re interested in checking out the full line-up of 2014 workshops we have on offer you can find them here.