Thursday, February 07, 2013

Sepia Saturday 163: Keeping Warm

 
I began this week's post thinking about the snow shovel. A patent search revealed all kinds of interesting inventions related to moving snow around - far too broad a subject to tackle for this purpose. Just for fun, here's one design that seems to have persisted. There are patents dating back 100 years covering variations on this theme. I don't know if it was ever successfully commercialized but if not, this is a very good looking prototype.
www.mnn.com



From the Peel library, University of Alberta, Canada
Reluctantly I set aside the snow shovel and moved along to the man pictured huddled into his coat with his collar up; then jumped to the larger concept of keeping warm in cold weather. In Winnipeg where I grew up, in the winter, police officers wore buffalo skin coats for a century from 1874 to 1974. The first of these coats cost $17; in the early 1890's as buffalo disappeared, the coats became unavailable and the police force shifted to ankle length coon coats. Few photos of these exist, but this one, a post card commemorating the visit of the Duke of Connaught Feb. 15th, 1915, gives a very good impression of how imposing the coats were. Post card reverse side is as follows:

To: Miss N. Ginge
Address: 25 Kingston, Yeovil, Somerset, England
Message: "18th Battery 5th Brigade, [B.C.H.] 2nd Contingent, Winnipeg, Canada, 7.2.15, Dear N., I was very pleased to get your lovely letter, I shall write you soon. We expect to leave here any time, some have already gone. The weather is very soft here now & there is water lying in the streets. Can't say if I will see you in the spring but hope so. With love to you & all, HSS."


Later when buffalo herds were thinned, coats were available once again and the force wore them until 1974.  I remember a friend's father who was on the police force wearing one. A tall, muscular man, the coat made him seem enormous and formidable which I would imagine was the desired effect. Today, a buffalo coat costs about $3000.00.

Winnipeg City Archives


Here am I in my fuzzy snowsuit, not buffalo but like the lost children below I loved the police in their coats.

City of Winnipeg Police Department Book (1920)

 Here's a photo of a couple of Winnipeg police early this year wearing coats from the Police Museum.
www.updatednews.com
After a long winter wearing one of these coats they would require a good cleaning before
putting them away in mothballs for the rest of the year. Here's an amusing approach to
keeping your fur coat looking good:


Once you're sure your coat is clean and tidy, rush on over to Sepia Saturday for more chilling tales. 


24 comments:

  1. Wow. I've never heard of a buffalo coat but I can see they'd be very warm.

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  2. Can you picture the outcry if they still wore animal furs.

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  3. What magnificent coats those are. As for snow shovels, I passed through Madeira a few months ago (where snow is as rare as hens' teeth) and saw a so-called snow shovel on display in a hardware shop. It was, however a fork-like structure with three long prongs. It is clear they haven't seen much snow.

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  4. Those coats all look very warm. I love the picture of you and those cute little found kids.

    Kathy M.

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  5. I've never heard of buffalo coats either. It seems they'd really get in your way if you're trying to apprehend a criminal. Imagine trying to run in that big coat. Love the picture of you in your snowsuit. We'll have to compare snowsuit photos at next pub crawl.
    Nancy

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  6. I bet those constables wouldn't be the fastest gun drawers in town. But maybe that was not necessary in those days. They sure looked impressive!

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  7. The police look huge in those buffalo coats, even bigger than the video bear! We hear the NE USA and Canada are currently in the midst of heavy snow storms where I guess coats like those you show would come in handy.

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  8. You look lovely in your fuzzy snowsuit! As to the Police,well.....in addition to keeping them Warm....the animal coats make them look very very scary!

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  9. Those coats look like they would make the wearer clumsy if they had to chase down a crook. But maybe in Winnipeg that wasn't a problem.

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  10. Great fur coats for men seem to have a special mystique about them -- bigger than life, tangled with a critter and won, and there is room for a few more in here. Even today, stories about my grandfather's bear-skin coat that he wore nearly a century ago are still being told ---and perhaps added to -- throughout the family. Thanks, for the great pictures.

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  11. Now THERE'S some coats!

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  12. Great video/ad. I thought it was a real bear until he took off his coat.

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  13. I enjoyed the video too. Very funny indeed!

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  14. Well, the coats certainly look warm but also heavy! Must have been hell to run in!

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  15. Hard work for the force- that's a great photo! I enjoyed how you tied this all in! I sure couldn't image using that snow removal device.

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  16. Those coats look pretty warm. My grandfather spent a few years in Winnipeg from 1913 to 1921 (apart from his war service) but I don't remember seeing him in one of these.

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  17. OMG, what a price tag! But knowing it will keep the wearer from freezing is a comfort. I wonder how much does one weigh. I went around touring England in a thermal jacket and I thought it was heavy, didn't even look half the thickness of these buffalo coats. You were a very cute little girl.

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  18. The coats certainly add to the girth of the humans, but I don't think they look too cuddly.The bear in the Samsung ad on the other hand...no I'm kidding, but that was really clever.

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  19. Old photos are always interesting. By the way, you were a lovely girl when you were young! ;)

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  20. Bison coats, nice! Always a privilege to read you.

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  21. I wonder if the police could run in those coats.

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  22. While I do not condone the use of fur,
    it made quite an impression for sure.
    It's just part of the mentality back then...
    :)~
    HUGZ

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  23. My brother's father in law was in charge of a ponderous Canadian department called Supply and Services. He lived in Otttawa. Ben Ami got into a bit of hot water getting ermine collars for the High Court justices' robes. Damn proletariat thought it was a touch excessive.

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