Dressing Up Canada: Late Victorian Fancy Dress Balls

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1997-1999: Canadian History Galleries

Victorian Canada had a particular passion for costumed events such as fancy dress balls, skating carnivals, historical pageants, and private theatricals. The most elaborate and well-publicized of such events were three fancy dress ball of the late nineteenth century initiated by the Governor General of Canada, the Earl of Aberdeen, and his wife, the irrepressible Lady Aberdeen, an ardent social reformer.

These quintessentially Canadian balls were more than mere social entertainments for the elite. The Aberdeens aimed to foster patriotism and nationalism among Canadians. The balls celebrated themes calculated to inspire national understanding and pride.

Virtual Exhibition