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TOQUES, EH! 

Sylvie Stewart Grantham's other job at Farewell Harbour this past summer!

Among our many national stereotypes, toques are one that we Canadians are especially proud of. For those of you who are international readers, you may or may not be familiar with the story of the toque. Essentially it’s a knit cap, sometimes referred to (elsewhere) as a “beanie.” They’re incredibly popular and versatile, worn across Canada by everyone from hipster teens to grandmothers walking their tiny dogs to Nova Scotian fishers.

Vicki's toque   Tim, Kelli and Marc sporting the 'office toque'   James showing off more than his toque

Canadians, in their stereotypical, nice fashion, do not claim to be the only wearers of the toque, and we don’t even claim to have invented them. We merely have our own name for them, which we defend valiantly and refuse to diverge from. The name has a French origin. Whether it came from a culinary, judicial or some other background is not clear in the literature, but records of the word date back centuries. What I can confirm is that modern-day toques have come a long way from those original images I found when searching the internet. 

One of Farewell Harbour Lodge’s newest guides, Sylvie, is an avid knitter, and she loves to make homemade toques! She tells us a little about the small toque factory she set up at Farewell Harbour this past summer...

“I learned to knit when I did an exchange semester at the University of Iceland, where knitting is like second nature. I immediately fell in love with the craft, I find it therapeutic and relaxing, but also productive because they make such great gifts!"

"I first decided to make toques for Vicki and Marc, because we were all roommates at the staff cabin, some 100 meters from the main lodge. Soon after that, word got out and other staff members started putting in requests. No one likes cold ears, so I should have seen this coming, especially given the variable weather in the Great Bear Rainforest! We ended up making a big order of wool from town, and I got to work in the evenings once we came back from our daily tours. In the end it's been a really fun the project, with all sorts of different size, shape and colour challenges. But thinking of all those warm ears from the Farewell Harbour Lodge family that left Berry Island to spread across the province for the winter season, it was well worth it."

--Sylvie Stewart Grantham




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