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Canadian Stetsons

fedoralover

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,006
Location
Great Northwest
I just bought a boat load of old Stetson hat ads. (Well 28 is almost a boat load). They run from 1937 to 1949, on almost every ad they state that Stetsons were also made in Canada. I knew they were made there at one time or another as I have a Stetson Imperial that says Made In Canada on the sweatband, I just had no idea they were made there that long ago. I was also a little surprised to see an ad for the Open Road from 1937, I had no idea that style has been around that long. Anybody know when it was first introduced?

regards fedoralover
 

Kilgour Trout

One of the Regulars
Messages
118
Location
Thunder Bay, ON
Must let me know

Fedoralover: When you find out, you can let me know:D. I'd be really interested where they were made and if they are anywhere near the major centers. Indygator, Indy Janice and maybe even the always intrepid Farnham54 could try and find the locations of old factories and maybe even the resting place of the Lost Fedora'sLOL.
I am actually interested, since talking to Havershaw, Urban archeology seems really neat!
Havershaw..any suggestions on hunting these places down? I'm better at finding Old airplanes and cars but the principles must be the same.

Warm regards.
Kilgour Trout
 

farnham54

A-List Customer
Messages
404
Location
Guelph, Ontario, Canada
I'm in!

You guys just give me a mission soon though, I'm only about down here and effective for another 2 weeks! After that, its exams then back to Red Lake to go hunting for the aforementioned planes and cars--We are definatley on for that this summer, right Kilgour Trout?! :)

Stetson were, for a time, owned by Biltmore hats here in guelph, and Biltmore had a few Stetsons in their factory outlet that had been around from those days. Biltmore apparently saved Stetson from bankruptcy, and then they sold a huge chunk (not all of it) to another company.

That is what the lady at the Factory Outlet said, anyway.

Take care, gents,

Happy (belated) St. Pats!

Craig
 

havershaw

Practically Family
Messages
716
Location
mesa, az
I have an old Stetson Royal Deluxe I just reblocked. It has the same liner as all of my 40s Stetsons (no plastic over the liner), and a decal under the sweatband which is identical to the Philadelphia ones, in terms of size, color and font, which states the size and:

JOHN B. STETSON Company (Canada) Limited
BROCKVILLE, ONTARIO CANADA

The felt quality is excellent, just about as good as my Royal Stetson VitaFelt, which is my favorite felt of the vintage Stetsons. After examining Matt Deckard's Optimo, I feel like the VitaFelt is pretty much the same deal.

I haven't worn the Canadian Stetson because I reblocked and cleaned it, and I'm supposed to send it to Art to put the innards back in...but I keep thinking that I'll wait until I have a couple of hats to send him. (They're still coming to you, Art! Just might be a while.) But it's a nice hat. I couldn't tell any real difference in quality between this hat and other vintage Stetsons of the same felt line.

Aha! Just dug up some info. Stetson acquired the Wolthausen Hat Corporation of Brockville, Ontario, in 1935. Wolthausen was one of the largest manufacturers of men's fur hats in Canada, and once acquired by Stetson, they also made Stetsons. (I have a photo of it if it helps.)

Guess that's where my hat came from. I don't know if it's quite that old...but it did have a weird crown shape and bash I've only seen in really old advertising of the mid-30s.

Not that we were talking about it, but I was also sad to learn that only 3 buildings from the original, massive Stetson factory in Philadelphia remained after Stetson donated the land and the buildings to the city. In 1980, arsonists burned down those last three buildings, which were slated for renovation to commemorate the industrial age in Philadelphia. While there's nothing there to see, there might still be something left of the Wolthausen plant which made the Stetsons in Canada.

I'm pretty good at "urban archaeology," as you called it, but it's tougher when I'm so far away. I'll see what I can dig up on Wolthausen.
 

havershaw

Practically Family
Messages
716
Location
mesa, az
Dug up some info.

Apparently, the Wolthausen factory, after being purchased by Stetson and changing hands again, closed down in 1971 and the buildings were demolished. You can check it out here (you'll have to scroll down):

http://www.brockvillemuseum.com/exhibits.html

The museum says they have a display of some of the Wolthausen stuff, including "hat-making tools." (I see hats in the photo.) It's probably worth checking out. The town itself looks pretty neat, although I have no idea where in Canada Brockville is.

Someone there could probably tell you where the original buildings were. You could also probably hunt down some folks who worked there, if you were so inclined (and I probably would be). (I know, I'm weird. Even if the buildings are gone, I like to stand in the spot where famous stuff was, and chat with the folks who were there.)

So I guess that's something for you to check out...next time you're in, um, Brockville, Ontario. Wherever that might be.
 

Kilgour Trout

One of the Regulars
Messages
118
Location
Thunder Bay, ON
Not too far away

I just Pm'ed Farn with the mission of finding what may be left behind of the Old Stetson Factory. Perhaps an old shop that is the mother load of all Vintage Stetsons?:D . OK...but it could be there?
Brockville could be a good day trip from Guelph, all he needs are a set of wheels and I know Farn is up to it eh? or are exams looming?

Havershaw...all I can say is "Simply amazing!"..how you could find information like that way out there in Arizona is astounding. When I saw the info...I thought of Batman, always calling back to Alfred at the Batcave..asking for some obscure info. Well done..Old man..well done.

Farn if it is too far away or you're too busy...I'll see what I can do for the next time I'm down there. Too bad it wasn't near Ottawa...My wife and I are going there for our 15th Anniversary for a couple of weeks. I'm hoping to see if any S. Ontarians gearheads or hatnuts are up for a visit to the nations capital. I'll also have to do some hat history. With so many Politicians in that town there had to be some good hatters.

Warm regards
Kilgour Trout
 

farnham54

A-List Customer
Messages
404
Location
Guelph, Ontario, Canada
It's probobly best that it ISN'T near Ottowa, Rob. I don't think your wife would be thrilled if you guys went hat-hunting on your 15th anniversary :D

Brockvilled is about 4 hours from me here, but bus money is rather tight--the Fedoramobile is in for repairs :D It may have to wait a few weeks. Or, if I still don't get a chance, i'll be back down here in late August, and the sight of this plant will be found!

Regards, Craig
 

fedoralover

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,006
Location
Great Northwest
Gee guys, that's fantastic research. This place never fails to amaze me. Thanks for doing some research on this as I find the history fascinating.

regards fedoralover
 

Kilgour Trout

One of the Regulars
Messages
118
Location
Thunder Bay, ON
Fedoramobile?

Hey Craig: What does the Fedoramobile look like? A 5- 5.5 foot roofline , fenders 2 7/8 feet on the sides and 3 front and back? Maybe swooped in the front and winged at the back? Nice brown stripe down the side. Hmmm...this has all the makings of a new superhero and could have possibilities. I wonder if you're afraid to take it out in the rain, gotta watch out for taper, no...its an Akubra Fedoramobile!

Just Being a goof
Kilgour Trout:D
 

Fedora

Vendor
Messages
828
Location
Mississippi
The Stetson company in 1935, in order to navigate around the high tariffs, bought in to this company in Canada. It was the first time that Stetson had opened an operation in another country. This plant in Canada, kept making their own line of hats, and added the Stetson line. That Stetson book comes in handy.:D Fedora
 

RBH

Bartender
I was always curious about Brock hats, as my grandfather was a Brock. [no relation...]

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