First Foot!

CVA 586-7136 - Hudson's Bay Co. Shoe Clinic, Granville St. - shoe repairing 1946 Don Coltman

CVA 586-7136 – Hudson’s Bay Co. Shoe Clinic, Granville St. – Shoe Repairing, 1946. Don Coltman.

Jack Stead

Jack Stead (1926-1990)

The ‘first foot’ tradition is one that I first became aware of as a pre-teen when a family friend, who was a Canadian of Scots ancestry, would arrive at our front door on New Year’s Day – shortly after midnight – to wish us a ‘Happy Hogmanay’ and to claim (safely) that his was the ‘first foot’ to cross our threshold on the first day of the New Year!

Another family friend, Kathie, had this additional information to share regarding the first foot custom:

My Mom talked about first footing and how my brother Jim had to come in first because he was ‘dark hair’; he was good luck. Fair-haired people weren’t such good luck; they needed to bring salt across the threshold. Mom used to say Hogmanay was always a big celebration when she was growing up in Scotland.

It seemed apropos, therefore, today to show this post-war photo of HBC’s shoe repair department. Surely a necessary stop in those days after a night of too much ‘first footing’!

Baffle your friends. Wish them Happy Hogmanay!

This post is dedicated to the memory of Jack Stead – our family’s First Footer.

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