Hat Lore

"I can see by your outfit that you are a cowboy"

Group of cowboys, early 1900s
Glenbow Archives, Calgary,
The origins of the cowboy hat go back to the early 1800s, when Spanish-speaking vaqueros in Texas and California wore sombreros. Later, cattle herders, arriving from the east to work the plains, adopted the sombrero and remodelled it into the distinctive shape of the cowboy hat recognized by most of the world today.

The widespread adoption of the cowboy hat was made possible by the manufacturing genius of an American, Stephen Stetson, who by the 1870s was meeting the great demand for the hat he called "The Boss of the Plains." In 1935, the first Stetson hats made outside the United States were produced in a Brockville, Ontario factory. Stetson supplied the famous hats of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The cowboy hat has also made the transition from practical headgear to favoured leisurewear for urban cowboys and cowgirls. Canada has a few stetson-toting celebrities, including Stompin' Tom Connors, k.d. lang and Eugene Whelan.

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