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Moose Hide Jacket

Curated Submission
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
55 x 50
Materials & techniques
Moose hide, glass beads; Tanned, machine-sewn, beaded
Saskatchewan Western Development Museum WDM-1986-S-259
William Kirby Cowie, born in 1919 in Dundurn, Saskatchewan, grew up on the family farm. In 1935, at age 16, he was well acquainted with farm work and handling horses, and he hired on as a teamster with a threshing crew. After harvest and with his hard-earned wages, Cowie bought a saddle at Great West Saddlery in Saskatoon.
Cowie saddled up Sparky, his favourite horse, and set out on a three-week adventure, a 120-kilometer ride to Prince Albert, northeast of Saskatoon. Along the way he stayed with several First Nations families, perhaps on the One Arrow Reserve near Batoche, sharing their food and their stories. In Prince Albert Cowie splurged $25 on a moose hide jacket at the Hudson’s Bay Company store. Decorated with elaborate beadwork on the front, pockets, and sleeves, the jacket was one of Cowie’s prized possessions. Sadly, it is not known who made it.
In 1936, as the Great Depression dragged on, Cowie packed up and left Saskatchewan for California where he joined the United States Marine Corps. He left his jacket and saddle at home near Dundurn, where his father sometimes wore the jacket around the farm. In 1940, tired of the dust bowl, the senior Cowies sold out and moved to Michigan, taking the jacket and saddle along. Cowie’s mother, Una, looked after them for nearly 20 years, returning them in 1959 to her son who had retired to a ranch in Arkansas. After Cowie’s death in 1983, his wife, Theresa, decided the jacket and saddle belonged in Saskatchewan. “I decided they needed a home somewhere in Canada where he was born, January 16, 1919, in Dundurn. The Museum was the logical place, as it is a part of Canadian history,” Theresa wrote in 1986. We couldn’t agree more.
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