This weekend is Doors Open weekend in Winnipeg and I am again volunteering at the old jail and I am again taking the role that represents the girls who were jailed there for prostitution and about prostitution during the early 20th century.
Welcome to my humble house if ill repute.
Combination undies would really be better for this time period…and an Edwardian corset but lets go with the idea that my character is an older prostitute catering to an older clientele shall we?
I’ve been 2 months in my new job now. If ever there was a sign from God that I had made a good move this is it. Shortly after my arrival, I learned that my new work space was celebrating 100 years as a hospital (the land had held a hunting lodge, hotel and mansion in various stages of its history). It became a hospital during the first world war and is now a hybrid facility with a personal care home, rehab hospital, day hospital and some medical things like labs and x-ray facilities. In celebration, the Costume Museum of Canada was invited to put on its Heritage Fashion Review, which has models wearing near perfect replicas of items in the collection. (It was like God was saying “You fit here. You belong here.”)
In spite of volunteering with the Museum for years, I haven’t actually seen the show yet. Lucky me! As part of my job, I had to take down, and sit with, some of the residents that are living in the personal care home section so that they could see the show. Basically, I got paid to see a show I’ve wanted to see for years!
In honor of the show, staff were encouraged to dress up in their favorite decade from the last 100 years. For me that would have to be the years closest to the Victorian era, obviously. But, I don’t have anything from 1916…closest I have is my 1901 widows weeds. But, being a middle aged woman in war time, it wouldn’t be outside the realms of possibility that during a time of mourning, I pulled out my widows weeds and in the interest of frugality and war time shortages I wore it in spite of it being 15 years out of date.
The other reason it is perfect is because of the sign over the gift shop where I work.
The gift shop is called the Dancing Bear gift shop. I can’t find proof for this but I believe the photograph is connected to the location of my work space. Perhaps when it was a hotel? In addition to the gift shop there is a bar called Chad’s Bar. It is an actual pub for the patients and residents in the building. (The name Chad is also connected to the history of the land, I believe) And next to the entrance to the bar is a stuffed bear.
This was my photo op!
All in all, a good day!
I wish I could say my life is solely what I write here but, alas, it is not. In between my volunteer work at the museum, family parties, sewing, knitting,collecting cabinet cards and romping around in pretty dresses, there is the rest of my life and it can get in the way of “blog life”. I wonder how many bloggers wish that blog life was the only life they have? Most of us put a pleasant shine on it. The only negative is a little self depreciation, “oh, look how I screwed that sleeve up….”
But in reality there is drama that I don’t bore you with. There are stresses that need dealing with, changes that I’m opting to make and changes that are foisted upon me, and there is work. So sometimes there is no time or inner oomph to crank out another post (that 14 people will read).
I try to have a post go up Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday with pictures to break up the print and help you figure out if you actually want to read the print. If I miss a day, it is likely due to real life. Forgive me?
During a fairly recent volunteer session at the Costume Museum of Canada, I came across what I believe is memorial jewelry. The first is a rather large locket dated 1860’s.
It was not metal. May be it was wood? I don’t know. Instead of photographs inside, there is hair. I hope you can make it out in the photograph. The glass is quite scratched.
I hope you also noticed that in the inner edges, around the glass, have a pattern worked into it.
The next piece is a double portrait pendant.
The photograph seems to be of an Victorian or Edwardian woman but that is all I have for dates. The other photograph is on the other side of the lady’s photo.
It was a man and that is all I can make out. It obviously did not endure time as well!
The third piece is my favorite because of the red stones (ruby? garnet?).
The photograph is of 2 women.
It is pretty primitive looking and yet I love it! The piece is held to the wearer with a bar pin and a chain.
I wish I caught the end of the chain in the photograph because I don’t recall what it is. Was it a bar that was slid into a button hole? I can’t remember. But it is a good idea. I’ve had the clasp on my pins come undone and then they are gone….
During the accessories display the Costume Museum had Victorian and Edwardian accessories on one side of the room and they had more modern items on the other. Even though this is not my particular interest, I did take some broad photographs of these items because I did help a bit with them as well.
1930’s beach ensemble
A table full of 20’s and 30’s accessories.
1950’s casual wear
A table full of 40’s and 50’s things.
We will be back to our regular Victorian features next time. Thanks for indulging me!
Good time was had by all. Most of us are return volunteers…and one faithful girl travelled a long way to spend her birthday weekend with us! Shirley is in the background and you can see a better view of my costume. Not feeling very pretty but one must do what one must do for the sake of the show!
I’m back at the old jail for Doors Open this year. My first year at the jail, I played the first female doctor in Manitoba, the second year I played a prostitute, last year I was a generic mourner and this year I am Cora Hind, the first female stenographer in Manitoba, the first female Agricultural Editor for the local news paper and a woman who wrote newspaper articles about the horrible conditions in the jail in an effort to help promote better conditions for the inmates. Cora was a non-traditional dresser in that she preferred masculine attire.
At this point, I am reading the paper while I wait for another actor to play her part to the crowds.
One of my dresses was used to dress the prostitute for this years event.
Now, there is a little incentive to lose about 80 more pounds. That is what I could look like too! Needless to say, I needed about 80 pound of pins to cinch that dress into the point that she could wear it! My goal, this year is to wear (or have worn) all of my dresses and so I can now tick off my 1900 Widows Weeds.
You will also notice our friend Shirley was also there. She is in the door way ready to hand out some news papers and escort the next group into the jail. If more photos become available, I will share them with you.