Skip to main content

General Brock's Hat

Curated Submission
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
49.5 x 25
Materials & techniques
Beaver skin, ostrich feather, brass
Niagara Historical Society and Museum 971.275.1(a)
One of the most recognizable names in Canadian history is Major-General Sir Isaac Brock. Brock is often called the “Saviour of Upper Canada” for his defence preparations prior to 1812, his close alliance with Tecumseh and the First Nations, his infamous bluff on the garrison at Detroit, and his courageous charge at Queenston Heights, which led to his death. Many collectors and historians are interested in tracking and identifying Brock’s personal effects; even documents with his signature are highly sought-after and incredibly valuable.
This hat was regulation issue for general staff officers in His Majesty’s Army circa 1812. It is made of black beaver felt with ostrich feathers and features a band of linen and a double brass-coin chain with plume. Made for Brock in London, the hat did not arrive until after his death. The delay in its arrival was mentioned by Brock in a letter to his brother Irving on July 9, 1810:

“I have a thousand thanks to offer you for the very great attention you have shewn in executing my commissions; the different articles arrived in the very best order, with exception of the cocked hat, which has not been received – a most distressing circumstance, as, from the enormity of my head, I find the utmost difficulty in getting a substitute in this country.”

When the hat finally did arrive, the local militiamen took turns wearing it, and it was placed on Brock’s coffin for his funerals in both 1824 and 1853. The condition of the hat reflects the great reverence that was felt by local citizens of Niagara, all of whom wanted a chance to interact with a relic of the heroic general. It also reflects the bravery of Brock himself, who was known to lead from the front and who hoped to inspire the people of Canada to fight. Romantic accounts of Brock’s death angered many into taking up arms against the Americans. During his funeral the Americans fired a salute to Brock from Fort Niagara and reportedly flew their flag at half-mast.
Submit a related artifact
Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Pinterest Email More...

Main sponsors

  • Logo of the Imperial Oil Foundation with accompanying characteristic oval 'Esso' symbol.

Institutional partners