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September 2016 Artifact of the MonthThe photo shows the canvas bag that was used to store the sleeping bag or, as they called it, “robe”. This unusual artifact is on display in the Heritage Village’s Big Mountain Cabin. From the time of the early explorers to about World War II those who spent time in the great outdoors relied on woolen blankets to keep them warm. The Hudson Bay point blanket was the best regarded of these, but blankets have limitations.


The Artic Eiderdown Sleeping Robe was invented and manufactured by the Woods Manufacturing Co. Ltd of Ottawa, Ontario and Ogdensburg, N.Y. Founded in 1885 by James W. Woods this firm specialized in canvas camping products such as tents. Their “sleeping robe” is now regarded as the first modern sleeping bag. One of the innovations that made this item so useful was that the eiderdown was sewn between two layers in pockets so that it could not shift to one side or end up in the bottom.


This particular example was purchased new at Williams Brothers in Calgary in 1947 for the staggering sum of $107.00. This represented a full month’s wages (.50 cents per day) for the original owner. But, what price can you put on a good night’s sleep especially outside in the winter! This wonderful artifact from the past is only on display thanks to the recent loving restoration work by talented museum volunteer Gail Schau.


By the way, the Woods Manufacturing Co. Ltd. is still in business near Ottawa in Stittsville. Today they specialize in woven and embroidered promotional items and custom castings in metal or epoxy.


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Last updated: 9/10/2016 10:54:53 AM