Archive Finds: Our Oldest Textile Piece

Silk Bodice  detail

Going through the textiles in OMAH's collection is always an adventure, but every now and then you stumble across something that truly takes your breath away. While re-storaging our Textile Collection under the Museum Assistance Program this summer, a silk bodice caught our eye.

While observing it, we noticed that the entire piece was hand-stitched to extreme detail. The style of bodice along with the hand sewing suggested it was created prior to the 1800's. Our Collections Manager, Sheena, was able to have this piece validated to being created in the 1760's. Thus making it the oldest textile piece on the OMAH collection.

This raw silk top belonged to the wedding dress of Mrs. John Williams, her daughter Sarah Williams married Rev. George Hallen.  Rev. and Mrs. Hallen came to Canada in 1835, and he was the first rector of St. George's Fairvalley Anglican Church.  In 1839, they moved to Penetanguishene to act as Anglican rector for the British naval base there.  Their daughter, Sarah Hallen married John Drinkwater of Fairvalley, neighbours to Captain Elmes Steele and Samuel Steele.  

Wedding Silk Boddess from 1760's Wedding Silk Boddess from 1760's Back