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Researching the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada
  Recherche sur la Forteresse-de-Louisbourg Lieu historique national du Canada




March 1972

(Fortress of Louisbourg Report H-F16AE)

Translated By Christopher Moore



Due to the unexpected size of the initial. research project on civil costume at Louisbourg, the results are being presented in sections. This report on men's costume is a complement to the study on female costume. It would be more precise to speak of two chapters of a single work, rather than of separate reports. Consequently we must return here to several ideas which, though they risk being repetitious, are basic to a comprehension of the text.

The same sources underlie both studies, and the same methodology has been applied to interpret them. Most of the information comes from records of inventories and sales after deaths. However, for masculine costume, criminal records have supplied supplementary details more often than was the case in the study of female costume.

In both cases, analysis of individual items has preceded the reconstruction of complete outfits. Thus, for each item, information has been assembled so as to establish the contemporary definition, description and use of the article in question by one or another group of the population.

The general divisions of the subject are the same: clothing, headgear, footwear and accessories. In the conclusion, outfits are assembled to show types of costume related to the social groups they represented.

The studies differ on a few points. This results in part from the nature of the sources, and in part from the direction the research has taken.

Primary sources have been much more rich in information in the study of masculine costume. This has made Louisbourg documents much more central to the study, though contemporary reference books have been used to explain them. Because of this, general works which have also been consulted are a body of reference rather than a source of information.

The abundance of the primary sources explains the instances where they do not seem to have been exploited fully. The question of price is a good example. While it was necessary in the female costume study to compare two articles in price to establish the wealth or social status of the women who wore them, this method was not necessary for male costume. Prices of men's clothing are known, but since the social position of those concerned is usually described, the study has been able to cover the well-defined costume styles in such a fashion that analysis of prices are superfluous.

Another difference in the two studies lies in the orientation they have been given. Both aim to provide the information necessary to the reproduction of costumes for the fortress, but reactions and questions raised by the first report have led to changes in the orientation of this report, directing it more accurately toward the desired objectives.

The illustrations in this report are more complete and also more numerous, as are the examples, explanations of production techniques, and precise details of colours and materials. Greater emphasis on articles best suited to reproduction may be noted. Though the analysis of the others may be less extensive, they have not been omitted, for we have tried to present a complete picture.

It is hoped that this report will be a valuable guide which takes account of the real needs of costume design. However, this done, we have also tried to present the most faithful image of the 18th century that this research makes possible.