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/