Fashion at the Museum

Get your Maple Leaf Tartan on!

With Tartan Day fast approaching—April 6!— the McCord Museum is bringing together Montrealers of all backgrounds to raise awareness of the Maple Leaf tartan, an obscure national symbol.

Montrealers, Quebecers and Canadians are invited to wear our national fabric with pride as a way of celebrating our plural and complex identities that enhance our national fabric. In this video Dress, Fashion and Textiles curator Cynthia Cooper demystifies the origins of this obscure national symbol, which she is touting as the “best official symbol for Canada today.” With gentle humour, she relates the history of the Maple Leaf tartan and asserts the right for everyone to wear it as they see fit.

Created in 1964 by David Weiser, a first-generation Russian immigrant, the Maple Leaf tartan was made an official national symbol of Canada in 2011 in recognition of the contributions of … Scottish immigrants and their descendants to the founding of Canada.

Given this reinterpretation of history and missed opportunity to make the Maple Leaf tartan relevant to a greater number of Canadians, Cynthia Cooper, the McCord’s curator of Dress, Fashion and Textiles, felt she had a duty to promote it and bring it in step with contemporary Canadian society by making it a symbol of openness and inclusion.

If our other official symbols hark back to darker times in our history—take the beaver, for instance, a key factor in the economic impetus that underpinned our colonial history, but one that is also a gnawing reminder of the violence perpetrated against Indigenous peoples—the Maple Leaf tartan, with its checkered colours representing the life cycle of the maple leaf, can be seen as an emblem of our environment and the land, a subject that touches all of us and brings us together.

Learn more

Discover the rich history of Canadian tartans and Maple Leaf tartan:

Thank to all participants

Guests

Jonathan Burnam | Director of Cultural Affairs, Consulate General of Israël in Montreal, and men’s fashion blogger at Fashion Is Everywhere
Irvine Carvery
Laurent Chamroeun | Setup configuration specialist at Aon
Lolitta Dandoy | Fashion journalist and founder of Fashion Is Everywhere
Grece Ghanem | Montreal based personal trainer and fashionista
Avi Finegold | Founder and lead educator of The Jewish Learning Lab
Amani Jebali | Fashion business student at ESG-UQAM
Robert Kleinman | Executive Vice-President of the Jewish Community Foundation of Montreal
Philippe Lépine | Lifestyle journalist
Gabrielle Laïla Titley | Montreal artist known as PONY
Hardip Singh Manku | Born and raised Montrealer Sikh, he is a fashion designer for his own brands.
Jessica Prudencio | Jessica offers her community to live with her all kinds of exciting experiences, both culinary and cultural. She advocates open-mindedness and feminist values, and encourages her subscribers to feel good about themselves, especially through fashion.
Maïtée Saganash | Waswanipi Eenou, columnist, activist
Stéphanie Verge

Members of the Museum Staff

Suzanne Sauvage, President and Chief Executive Officer

Alexandre Côté
Laura Delfino
Mélanie Deveault
Johanna Gaude
Josianne Gauthier
Sandra Heintz
Mélissa Jacques
Catherine Julien
Julie Laframboise
Mathieu Lapointe
Philippe Leclerc-Lachapelle
Sabrina Lorier
Angèle Macoine
Eugénie Marcil
Jessica Marie
Heather McNabb
Patrick Migneault
Yanchuan Pan
Nadraath Radji
Margaux Sanfourche
Christian Vachon