Yep, I'm hanging out my shingle here at CFHS on the 5th day of every month from here on until it either gets burned off, pulled down, or shot up. Well, I guess a few bullet holes won't hurt, but otherwise, I'd like to stay awhile. I'm Anita Mae Draper, born in Northwestern Ontario, Canada and now living on the prairies where the bison run free behind fences and the antelope play pretty much wherever they want.
You'll come to see that although I'm a writer, I'm a visual person and love posting photographs of days gone by for all those other people who like looking at the pictures, too. Here then is my inaugural post with lots of pics about Early Beach Fashions.
It must be noted that like most clothing, bathing suit apparel was dictated as much by circumstances, location, finances, and the company one kept as well as fashion. People made do with what they had or they watched from the sidelines. And as you'll see in my next post, many people simply watched from the sidelines.
In this first photograph, author Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942) is seen sitting alone on the rocks by the water's edge at Cavendish, PEI. I've read that Maud spent several unhappy childhood years in Cavendish, but even with that, I love this photograph which is dated ca.1890's. As a young woman who needn't yet worry about being in the public eye, Maud is staring out to sea, enduring the occasional splashes of water, and perhaps dreaming and plotting the stories that would eventually touch the hearts of millions of people around the globe.
Lucy Maud Montgomery on Cavendish shore in bathing suit, ca.1890's. Cavendish, P.E.I.,
Photo courtesy of the L. M. Montgomery Collection, Archival Collections, University of Guelph Library
Of course, not everyone wanted to be alone, which brings me to my next photo which is bubbling with exuberant kids, dated 1900-1909, from the Lake Simcoe area, north of Toronto, Ontario.
1900-1909 Lake Simcoe, Water Sport. Photograph of glass lantern slide, hand colored. Western Development Museum Curatorial Centre Saskatoon--George Shepherd Library--WDM-74-S-105-9 “Across Canada Via C.N.R.”
Although this next photo from 1910 is faded, the personal interest subject matter makes me smile. Taken at Chaffeys Lock in Eastern Ontario, the young woman is wearing a bathing cap and showing a good portion of her lower limbs. (Mercy!)
1910 Bathing Scene near Chaffeys Lock, Ontario. Photo courtesy of Rideau Lakes Public Library, and OurOntario.ca
The woman in this next photograph looks older than the subject in the previous photo and is referred to as a matron. She's wearing stockings with her bathing suit and cap. I can't say she looks comfortable. What do you think?
|1916 Women and
Child on Beach, Chatham, Ontario. |
Photo courtesy of Chatham-Kent Museum, and OurOntario.ca
A quick glance at this next photo from Southwestern Ontario shows 3 ladies posing in their bathing outfits. The youngest one on the left is clearly wearing stockings and it looks like the middle lady is as well, but we can only presume the oldest woman on the right still has her stockings on. Now those bathing caps are unique, aren't they? Anyone have any thoughts on these fancy ones?
ca 1915, Lillie Boniface and friends at Burlington Beach, Ontario.
Photo courtesy of Burlington Historical Society, and OurOntario.ca
And since I've shown so many bathing beauties, I thought I'd show you what the male species was wearing during the same period. An avid swimmer, Walter Youngman built his own diving platform at Good Lake, Ontario where he regularly swam from March until first frost.
|1911 Walter Youngman in bathing suit, Good Lake, Ontario. |
Photo courtesy of the Glenbow Archives, Calgary, Alberta
For my last photograph, we're travelling west from Ontario, through Manitoba, and stopping in Saskatchewan where I now live. The town of Watrous was built on the shore of Manitou Lake, a large body of water so high in mineral salts it became a roaring resort 'spa' in the 1920's and is still popular today. This 1913 photograph shows a row of women sitting on the beach wearing everything from bathing suits to Sunday best outfits despite the official description which states, View of a group of women in formal attire sitting on the shore of Lake Manitou.
1913 On the Beach at Manitou Lake, Watrous, Saskatchewan.
Photo Courtesy of Prairie Postcards, University of Alberta Libraries
I love this photo because it shows women dressed in what they want, or what they have, whether it's the latest fashion or not. Some wear stockings, some don't. Some sport bathing caps, some have fancy hats, some are bare-headed, and one is wearing what looks like a handkerchief with twisted corners. Just looking at this photo puts me there with them with the hot sand under my legs and the warm prairie wind on my cheeks. These women could be my neighbors, my fellow church members, and my children's teachers. The woman in white appears to be knitting - or perhaps she's reading a small book. And I like to think the woman on the far left is allowing sand to trickle through her loosely fisted hands.
Photographs like these show a small portion in the life of ordinary people living a century ago. Next month I'll post more photographs of the same era, but they'll be group shots of fun beach activities. I hope you'll stop in and see them.
So, what are your thoughts on these early bathing suit photographs?
Anita Mae Draper is retired from the Canadian Armed Forces and lives on the prairie of southeastern Saskatchewan, Canada with her hubby of 30 plus years and the youngest of their 4 kids. She writes cowboy stories set in the Old West, and Edwardian stories set in the East. Anita Mae's short story, Riding on a Christmas Wish is published in A Christmas Cup of Cheer, Guideposts Books, October 2013. She is honored that Guideposts Books has chosen a second short story, Here We Go A-wassailing for inclusion in the 2014 Christmas Cheer II book set due out this October. Anita Mae is represented by Mary Keeley of Books & Such Literary Agency. You can find Anita at http://www.anitamaedraper.com/
I was a bit surprised by the 1890s outfit. It seems more revealing than I thought women of that time wore. These pictures were very interesting. Thanks, Anita.ReplyDelete
You're welcome, Vickie, and thank you for allowing me to be part of this wonderful blog.Delete
I was quite surprised when I found the photo of Lucy Maud Montgomery as well, but Maud's childhood at that time was very lonely. I think that's why she was able to inject her ANNE stories with such realism and emotion - she felt like an orphan after her mother died and her dad left for Manitoba. So I think the photo caught her at a very vulnerable time when she may have thought no one was around.
Whoops... I just realized that I responded to your comment by saying that L.M. Montgomery's father went to Manitoba after Maud's mom died... that should have read Saskatchewan because he went to live in Prince Albert where Maud followed later to spend one year with him.Delete
Sorry about the mix up, but I'm praying for all the Manitobans caught in the flooding and so Manitoba is very much on my mind today.
Welcome, Anita! Loved this trip through the past. I've been to Cavendish, an it's gorgeous!ReplyDelete
Thank you, Susan, it's great to be working with you again.Delete
Oh, you're blessed to have been to Cavendish. I've never been to PEI. And although my grandmother lived at Antigonish, Nova Scotia, I never visited that beautiful province either, until I attended Boot Camp at Digby, on the shore of the Bay of Fundy. Oh, I loved waking up to that smell of the shore!
I'll add that I'm on my 3rd or 5th round of watching the CBC series, Road to Avonlea, and part of that is because I love the PEI scenery. Yes, even the 80% that was filmed in Ontario. :)
Great inaugural post, Anita! I can't imagine what it would feel like to swim with stockings on. I think it would take double the effort and you'd probably still feel like you were being dragged down.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Suzie! I agree about those stockings. I don't like it when I get sand between my toes, but usually I can clean it off, even if I have to whip my socks off first. But stockings... uh no. (shudder)Delete
Thanks for following me over. :)
Anita, Thank you for a wonderful post. I always love interesting facts from the past.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Melanie. I appreciate you dropping in. :)Delete
Wonderful post, Anita Mae! I love the photos, and I totally agree with you and Suzie about swimming/walking on sand in your stockings. I can't imagine I'd do much more than wade in a bit and splash around; any deeper and I'd feel weighted down.ReplyDelete
Congratulations on your inaugural post!
Thank you, Susie. Just reading your comment brought back memories of us all together at RWA Anaheim. Although I had walked on the beach of Vancouver Island's Pacific Rim coastline before that, it was my first time for a California beach. So different from an inland lake. :DDelete
Standing around at the beach wouldn't be too bad in those suits, BUT swimming in them would be a challenge. I wonder how many drowned in those suits! sharon wileygreen1ATyahooDOTcomReplyDelete
Well now, that's a dreadful thought, Sharon. But come to think of it, the swimsuit I wear now has a skirt on it, albeit a lot shorter.Delete
Thanks for the visit. :)
Anita, Great post and great timing! I can't imagine wearing that many clothes to the beach, especially here in hot Florida! However, I think people wear too little at the beach these days.ReplyDelete
I hear ya, Marilyn. Another thing too is the fabric of the suits. I would imagine back then they would have been a light wool knit but still so much thicker than the polyester and lycra we have today. Today's synthetic fabrics tend to dry quicker as well.Delete
Thanks for stopping in. :)
What a fun post, Anita! I love the photos and your delightful commentary. Edwardian is such a charming time period. Thanks for sharing with us!ReplyDelete
You're very welcome, Kiersti. As for the Edwardian period... it was a charming time indeed. So many inventions in technology and science. And the big change in women's fashion allowing for more freedom of movement, not to mention ease of breathing. Although the people who were experiencing the change from horses to automobiles, etc, would have felt the world was moving too fast, it still seems so much more relaxed than the fussy Victorian era.Delete
Thanks for visiting. :)
Hi Anita. This was very interesting. Especially. Altho I've seen pictures of the olden times, I've seen some where the clothes looks too puffy to be in water. And I have to agree with Marilyn. It seems now most women want to show as much skin as possible. Very little material needed. And, they dress the young girls the same way. Even the toddlers are put in bikinis . Don't think GOD would approve with most. Never thought of it butt my parents would be young when the picture of lots of children was made. Dad would have been eight in 1909 and mother would have been three. anyway sure enjoyed it. Thanks. Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <ReplyDelete
You're very welcome, Maxie. It seems we may be coming full circle, though because I heard on the news yesterday that there are Health Advisories out for parents to stop putting children in bikini/2 pc bathing suits due to sun exposure. They say it's best for both genders to use long t-shirts and shorts - clingy as opposed to loose. Sounds like good advice and not far off from the photos above. :)Delete
Thanks so much for stopping by.