Boer War Page 4d

Boer War Fabrics - Silks

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Some of the fabric memorabilia which was produced during the Boer War era


Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
John A Macdonald Election 1891
Orig. ribbon - Size - 2 x 5.5"
Found - Burlington, ON
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Our Premier, John A Macdonald, At Rest, 1891
Orig. ribbon - Size - 3 x 5.5"
Found - Burlington, ON

Patriotic Silks: Patriotic silks, - other than Stevengraphs - and ribbons, were also popular. They were useful as bookmarks, and pin-ons. Some were supplied  in cigarette packages.

Political ribbons were among the most widespread, as they could be cheaply made and handed out by the thousands, to be pinned on one's lapel or blouse. Today these are rare to find.

Right a ribbon from the 1891election campaign of Canada's first Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald, trumpeting his conservative views; no use gambling with your future with this man! It was his fourth election victory, and his last.

John A's death in 1891, was commemorated with a ribbon which noted "Our Premier At Rest, June 6, 1891," using materials which very much resembled the fringes on the horse-drawn hearse which carried him to the grave yard in Kingston, Ontario.

Canadians at Paardeberg: The Boer War offered a new array of ribbons. The one below, praising the Canadian contribution at Paardeberg is a rare treasure to find.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Memento of Declaration of Peace, 1900
Orig. silk - Size - 2 x 4"
Found - Queensland, AUS

Declaration of Peace: The small Lord Roberts silk (right and below), fitted easily into this exquisite  5 x 7" Victorian frame.

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Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Paardeberg, 1900
Orig. ribbon - Size - 1.5 x 4.5"
Found - Daytona, FL
The silk, only 2 x 4", jumped the gun on Peace, expressing everyone's hope that with "Pretoria occupied, June 5, 1900" - the final entry on the silk - Peace was now a foregone conclusion. Right? Wrong! (The silk noted the highlights of the campaign.)

Pretoria Taken: A rare ribbon reminds us that hundreds of Canadians were there on that glorious day when they helped to guarantee the Peace. Ok, so the date was wrong, but only by a week!

What really mattered was that Canada was There, with the participation of Captain JD Mackay, and Private WJ Dickey proudly representing Campbellford, Ontario!

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Pretoria Taken, May 30, 1900
Orig. ribbon - Size - 2.5 x 6"
Found - Kingston, ON

God Save the Queen: Two rare mourning silks of Queen Victoria. The final year of life was depressing for her, burdened with the mounting British casualties and with no end in sight to the carnage. Even one of her nephews died of fever in Africa. Even the Boers mourned her passing.

When she died, in January 1901, it was only midway through the war; and the worst was yet to come.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Death Silk, Queen Victoria 1901
Orig. silk - Size - 2.25 x 5"
Found - Calgary, AB
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
In Memoriam Queen Victoria, 1901
Orig. silk - Size - 2 x 4.5"
Found - Daytona, FL
Boer War Community Ribbons: These marvelously rare ribbons above and below, say it all - on behalf of a proud citizenry - to the volunteers who came from every farm, village, and town, when the Queen called for help to Save the Empire.

When ships and trains brought the volunteers back from the wars, men, women, and children, would swarm the docks and stations in jubilant throngs, sporting these proud ribbons on lapels, blouses, and shirts.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Edward VII & Alexandra Coronation, 1902
Orig. silk - Size - 2.25 x 4.5"
Found - Toronto, ON
Long Live the King: The coronation silk of 1902 was fitted with a pin for slipping into a lapel.

The Edwardian period of peace, before the storm of World War I, was celebrated with the patriotic silk below. Two new western Canadian provinces, Saskatchewan and Alberta, joined the Dominion in 1905, both filling up rapidly with immigrants from eastern Europe, being brought in by Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

Empress of Ireland: A rare silk commemorates the last big peacetime tragedy before World War I would make it all seem petty - the sinking of the Empress of Ireland, after colliding with a freighter in the fog off Rimouski in the St. Lawrence River. Some 1100 people died, rivalling the 1500 who died in the Titanic only two years before. It remains Canada's biggest marine tragedy.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Welcome Home, 1901
Orig. ribbon - Size - 2 x 8"
Found - Victoria, BC
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Empress of Ireland, 1914
Orig. silk - Size - 2 x 4"
Found - Daytona, FL
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Souvenir Rule Britannia Silk, c1905
Orig. silk - Size - 3.5 x 5"
Found - Toronto, ON
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Wilfrid Laurier Ribbon, 1895
Orig. ribbon - Size - 2 x 6"
Found - Cambridge, ON
Wilfrid Laurier Ribbon

An absolutely fabulous find...

This marvelous historical memorabilia item is RARE, already, as a Canadian political ribbon from the 19th century. Few of these have survived.

But it is far more than that.

It is an 1895 campaign ribbon from the election campaign of Liberal Leader Wilfrid Laurier, that would see him win the vote and become the first French-Canadian to be elected Prime Minister of Canada, in 1896.

Canada had been a Dominion since 1867, on its own from Britain in most things. Its Prime Ministers, over those 30 years had been a succession of Anglophones.

Now in 1896 a French-Canadian would have a crack at the top office in the land. And a hundred years later, many believe he was the best Prime Minister Canada ever had.

Political campaign ribbons were popular in the 19th century to flag your loyalty to a candidate, pinned to your lapel or blouse, as Laurier was stumping the country for the Liberal Party.

This time he was in Woodstock, Ontario, on Oct. 26, 1895.

Go to

Silk Postcards: Ship silks like that of the Winifredian, were commonly used to send mail messages to friends and relatives. They too were woven on looms like the Stevengraphs, then tacked on to textured card mounts and used as postcards.

The Winifredian brought back the Canadian Fourth Contingent from South Africa in the summer of 1902.

Aboard were Otto Moody, below, and its commanding officer, Col. TDB Evans, front centre.


c Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996 & 2000