Sea of Hats

Updated

CVA 99-1015 - Crowd watching soccer game in progress at Cambie Street ground ca1920 Stuart Thomson photo.

CVA 99-1015 – Crowd watching soccer game in progress at Cambie Street Grounds ca1920 Stuart Thomson photo. (Note: This version of 99-1015 has been cropped and had the exposure adjusted slightly by me. For the original state of the image, see CVA online).

This is a somewhat unusual view of the Cambie Street Recreation Grounds (for ome later years, the site of the long-distance bus station, later still – optimistically – dubbed Larwill Park and serving as a City car park with recent aspirations to become the site of the Vancouver Art Gallery). The image was taken from the SW corner of the block toward the NW corner. The crowd of mainly men was viewing a soccer game. And, remarkably, virtually every head in the crowd is covered. The players were evidently permitted to play bare-headed without social impunity; however, notably, the men in striped jerseys – game officials, I presume – were be-hatted.

The second site of the YMCA is visible in the distance (near mid-photo, at corner of Dunsmuir and Cambie), as is part of the Sun Tower (right) and Vancouver High School (the school’s prominent, pointed tower appears to the left, behind Cambie Street residences).

I won’t pretend to understand fully why hats were such a dominant and lasting feature of men’s and women’s fashion in the 19th and 20th centuries. For extended commentary on men’s hats in earlier years, see here and here. This near-contemporary essay written by the late, great American writer, William Zinsser, is very good.

I cannot resist showing another CVA image of an Australian cricket team visiting Vancouver in 1911 (and including the photographer of this image and of the soccer image above, Stuart Thomson, a former Aussie who emigrated to Canada the year before this image was made and who would make his home and career in Vancouver until his death in 1960). Interestingly, a couple of the gents in the photo seem not to have received ‘the memo’ and appeared hatless (gasp!).

CVA 99-123 - Australian XI [group photo, poss. S. Thomson on right in bowler hat] ca 1911 Stuart Thomson photo.

CVA 99-123 – Australian XI [group photo, poss. S. Thomson on right in bowler hat] ca 1911 Stuart Thomson photo.

A man’s hat was the status symbol that distinguished the white man from the aborigine, the God-fearing from the heathen, the clad from the unclothed. The hat was something to raise to a lady, to remove in church, and to hang in the home. It had the magic properties of the amulet, warding off evil, shielding the wearer at the most vulnerable part of his anatomy: the crown of his skull. — Eric Nichol, Vancouver.

Crop of CVA PAN N14A – Opening Game Base Ball Season 1915, Vancouver vs. Victoria. At Athletic Park (5th and Hemlock). 1915. W J Moore.

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