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Carnival pride: Corner Brook woman still wears the hat and scarf she knit over 40 years ago

Bessie Reid’s hat and scarf look just as good today as when she knit them many years ago. Reid calls the hat and scarf the uniform of the Corner Brook Winter Carnival.
Bessie Reid’s hat and scarf look just as good today as when she knit them many years ago. Reid calls the hat and scarf the uniform of the Corner Brook Winter Carnival. - Diane Crocker

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CORNER BROOK, N.L. —

Bessie Reid has a bin filled with Corner Brook Winter Carnival memorabilia that she keeps neatly organized and only takes out once a year.

It’s then the Corner Brook woman will look through the stacks of carnival booklets, reminiscing about some of the names she sees — Mabel and Bud Dunphy, Claudine Wall and Stan Brake — people who were once a big part of the city’s winter celebration.

She’ll look at the pictures.

“Not a care in the world,” she said of all the smiling faces that look back at her.

An assortment of the Corner Brook Winter Carnival memorabilia that Bessie Reid has collected over the past 48 years.
An assortment of the Corner Brook Winter Carnival memorabilia that Bessie Reid has collected over the past 48 years.

There’s also a banner in the bin that she’s filled with carnival buttons. She has every one, but the first year.

And perhaps most important among the items is her carnival uniform — the carnival hat (or toque) and scarf.

Reid, 84, knit the hat and scarf, when they first became a part of carnival. She’s not exactly sure of when that was, but the hat and scarf have to be more than 40 years old.

A knitter for most of her life, Reid said when she saw the hats and scarves she had to have one.

“I had the booklet and the pattern was in it. And it was carnival and I love carnival.

“I love a uniform type thing,” she said.

She only knit the one set for herself and a hat for her daughter, all made with Canadiana wool.

She also has a few sets of the miniature versions of the hat, scarf and some mitts, that can be worn pinned to a coat.

Reid said the design was an easy one to follow, just straight knitting, and for the hat the sides are tucked in at the top and some blue pompoms added. There have been variations of styles seen through the years, but she prefers that old pattern that was shared in the booklets for many years.

To see people wearing the hats and scarves today makes Reid proud and before she puts her treasures away for another year, she’ll display them on Feb. 22 at the Bennett Hall at the Bennett Hall Ladies Auxiliary’s baked bean lunch.

Carol Bishop is the vice-president of the Corner Brook Winter Carnival Society Inc. In looking through some old carnival booklets, Bishop said the hat and scarf started becoming popular around the early ’80s.

Then they sort of fell out of fashion.

But today, Bishop said they’re coming back.

Winnie Fitzgerald says she’s seen a revival in the interest in Corner Brook Winter Carnival hats and scarves. The Massey Drive woman, who grew up in Corner Brook, is knitting and selling carnival hats and scarves.
Winnie Fitzgerald says she’s seen a revival in the interest in Corner Brook Winter Carnival hats and scarves. The Massey Drive woman, who grew up in Corner Brook, is knitting and selling carnival hats and scarves.

“I don’t know if it’s the generation whose now more grounded, more environmentally conscious. They’re going back to the hand-knitted goods.

“The generations now are turning back to what their grandparents did,” she said.

“Home-made crafts in the ’80s were all the rage. Then they disappeared. Now they’re all back again. And were seeing all these markets with all these homemade goods.

“It’s all moving backwards. It’s all coming back.”

Winnie Fitzgerald agrees that knitted goods are seeing a revival.

The Massey Drive woman started knitting the iconic carnival hat and scarf about two years ago. It was just a few for some people on the carnival committee.

This year the crafter behind Winnie’s Woolies has started selling them to other people.

“That’s the sign of winter carnival,” she said.

“There was a need for it. People were asking for them. So, it seems like winter carnival is revived, coming back.

“I think it’s just a sign of the times that people are getting back into carnival.”

Fitzgerald, 58, has been getting requests to knit hats for all ages. To keep it authentic she’s sticking to the original pattern, the same one that Reid used.

“I think it’s kind of neat.”

The 48th annual Corner Brook Winter Carnvial begins Feb. 15. See the full schedule. 

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