School Teacher’s Dress
Although Moodyville was Burrard Inlet’s most developed community in the late 1800s, few women lived there. Some married couples had arrived, and the first wedding on the inlet took place there as early as 1868. However, it was some time before enough women to go around had arrived from England or eastern North America. Immigrant men had liaisons with Native women that often produced children. Sewell Moody was known to have had an “Indian wife” and family. Sometimes these relationships lasted, sometimes not. If the men later married white women, they abandoned their wives of convenience, who would return to their families. According to one account, an early hand-logger could “buy” a Native woman companion to cook for him for $50. All she would cost was her keep, and he could leave or sell her at any time, provided the buyer agreed to again pay her father or nearest relation.
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This black silk dress is reputed to have belonged to Moodyville schoolteacher Margaret Thain. It was likely her best dress.
This dress would have been worn to church services and receptions. Black was an appropriate colour for various functions at the time.
This machine-sewn and hand-finished dress is typically mid-Edwardian in style, with a stock collar, puffed sleeves, surplice bodice and pouter-pigeon chest. It dates from between 1904 and 1908.
The size and length of the dress indicate that its wearer was unusually tall. She would have worn three petticoats and various undergarments, including a corset, beneath it.
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