Artifact Spotlight: Straw Hats for Summer Comfort

Christeah Dupont, Point Ellice House Museum & Gardens

For this week’s artifact spotlight we are highlighting a straw hat known as a “Boater” or “Panama Hat” (PEH1975.001.4294; “Boater” with black grosgrain ribbon). This particular hat dates from the early twentieth century and belonged to either Frank or Jack O’Reilly.

Being woven from straw, the Boater is a hat for the springtime, when temperatures warm and wool caps become too hot to wear. When these hats appeared in town it was a sign of summer’s arrival – the wearing of these hats even led to the celebration of “Straw Hat Day” in the late spring (May 15th in the United States).

Imagine a summer day on Victoria’s Gorge Waterway in 1912 – there would have been many straw hats on display! Advertisements from Victoria’s Colonist newspaper also reveal the popularity of this hat during the 1890s and well into the 1920’s (see image gallery below).

What sort of clothing do you swap out when the weather gets warm? Do you have a favourite hat?


Scroll to Top