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Chinese Rain Cape

Curated Submission
Ladner, British Columbia
Early 1900
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
100 x 200
Materials & techniques
Local reeds; Hand-sewing, interweaving
Ken Davie
Delta Museum and Archives Society DE1976.1.4
For residents of the west coast of Canada, staying dry in wet weather has historically required considerable effort. Outdoor workers, particularly those who earned little, such as farmhands, used a variety of ingenious clothing styles to stay dry. This was especially true of Chinese immigrants, who were burdened by the head tax in the early part of the 1900s.
While the maker of this cape was likely Chinese, its construction suggests the influence of First Nations traditional crafts. First Nations people of the west coast made capes from cedar and sea grasses. Skills were frequently shared between cultures, and First Nations and Asian communities interacted at factories and for leisure activities in a typically more relaxed manner than either group did with European settlers.
The durable knotted salt marsh reeds overlap each other to create a lightweight, water-resistant cape. The lofting between the reeds also provides some additional warmth. Being a blend of Chinese and First Nations construction, this cape is a uniquely Canadian artifact and an innovative use of resources available from the land.
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