In the fall of 2002, at the time of the publication of The Blanket - An Illustrated History of the Hudson's Bay Point Blanket, by Harold Tichenor, we asked HBC associates for their HBC blanket stories. Here is a selection of those received.
A Lifetime of Blanket Memories
Alice Jakob, Montreal Downtown Bay Credit Office
1940s: My first recollection of my HBC blanket dates from early childhood and my mother's linen closet. My girlfriend Faye nicknamed it "the teepee" because of the stripes. We transformed it into a tent by draping it over the sofa and chair and fastening it with clothespins.
1950s: Girl Guide Camp in Morin Heights, Quebec. I remember using the blanket to wrap around the flimsy sleeping bag. When the blanket got a bit wet during the rain, we simply strung it between two trees and let it dry out in the hot summer sunshine.
1960s: Marriage. After University I began teaching in Montreal and met the love of my life. Upon our marriage I purchased an HBC blanket in blue - his favourite colour! - to provide soothing comfort on those cold winter nights.
1970s: Motherhood. The blanket served dutifully to handle my children's chills. One winter my son, then in junior college, chose the blanket over a cumbersome sleeping bag for a ski weekend to Mount Orford.
1980s: Career change. I left teaching and started working at Simpson's, and then later at The Bay. I had another chance to upgrade the blanket to Queen size. I excitedly chose the "teepee" model from my childhood. There were now no more heated discussions about who got the "short" end!
1990s: Empty nest. The children got married and I purchased 2 more HBC blankets as Christmas gifts. In the late '90s I developed a nagging backache and painful sciatica. The doctor's orders were to stay in bed and keep warm. Even though it was May I hauled out the blanket and was cured.
2000: A new millennium. The old, faithful HBC blue blanket is still serving me and my husband of 35 years at our country cabin up in the mountains at Owl's Head, Quebec. I am very proud that it will continue to serve our grandchildren as well.
A Piece of Canadian History
Howard Thiel, Zellers 027, London, Ontario
As a history buff I have always been fascinated with the story of how Hudson's Bay Company was formed. On our honeymoon, my wife and I purchased a Hudson's Bay Point blanket with money we received as a wedding gift. We made our purchase at Moose Lake Trading Post in Pointe au Baril, Ontario. Twenty-four years later that blanket is still keeping us warm on those cold winter nights. We are delighted to have been able to purchase and enjoy a piece of Canadian history and plan on passing this blanket on to our son. Incidentally, my wife purchased a Hudson's Bay coat at that same trading post four years before we were married - and she still has the coat!
Necessity is the Mother of Invention
Zoya Garabedian, Zellers 238, Scarborough, Ontario
When I was going to college my waterbed heater broke. Replacing it was going to be a problem. A new heater was going to cost as much as my bed did originally. Instead of buying a new heater, I just lined my mattress with my Hudson Bay blanket.
Worth the Effort
Bill Broderick, Zellers 444, Trail, B.C.
Last year I decided to purchase a Hudson's Bay Point blanket as a gift for my wife's birthday. I wanted to get her the blanket since she is always cold and frequently uses up to 3 regular blankets to keep warm at night. This was going to be the perfect gift. But it was quite an ordeal to arrange the purchase since we don't have a Bay store within 4 hours' driving distance of our town. I contacted the store in Medicine Hat, Alberta and they were good enough to order one for me over the phone. I purchased the blanket from this store because my in-laws live there and pick up would not be a problem. My mother-in-law ended up sending the blanket to me via Canada Post and it came with only a day to spare! When my wife opened the gift it was true shock on her face. She loved it and wrapped up in it immediately - only to discover that the security dye tag had not been removed. We called the nearest Bay store and they told us to bring it along next time we were in town and they'd be happy to remove the dye tag. That was over a year ago and now we use the blanket all the time. My wife no longer needs 3 blankets to keep warm - just her HBC Point blanket.
A Terrific Investment
Sandra Dumas, Zellers 22, Campbell River, B.C.
When I was 3 months old my parents bought three tickets for 25 cents on a raffle for a church group fundraiser. First Prize was a red HBC blanket with four black stripes - that could be cut in the centre to make two blankets. (This is what is called an unseparated pair. All HBC blankets used to be packaged and sold this way, and were only separated at the time of sale - Ed.) Both blankets are still in the family. When I was getting married I told my father that I was going to take both blankets with me. He was convinced that my new husband and one blanket would be quite enough to keep me warm, so he got to keep the other! When my own children were preparing to leave home there were many discussions about who should get to take the blanket with them. It was decided that I would keep the blanket. After all, if their grandfather were to pass on the other blanket would come to me. Then of course, since I have two children, they would each eventually get one blanket from me. Over the years the blankets have moved from northern Ontario to northern B.C., back to Ontario and now are both with me here on Vancouver Island. They've traveled back and forth across this country almost as much as the original fur traders. But the kids will have to wait. Their papa is now seventy years old and neither he nor I have any intention of giving up our blankets which have kept two generations of our family warm to this day.
Do you have an HBC point blanket story to share? If so, please contact us.