This is the hardest section to write. Whatever shall I say? I think each of our products speaks for itself, so I shall tell you some of our history, since that is why we are here as we are. “Mrs. Milligan’s Millinery” started as an answer to a question. I’d be out and about at Living History events, or giving presentations on Old Family Photo Identification Workshops (yeah, funny things happen when you call it a “Photo Dating” Workshop….) and people would ask where I got my hat. For these presentations, I wear outfits in 1910-12 styles, and speak in the first person, about the wonderful things Mr. Eastman has done with cameras -“Why, ‘Even a child can Kodak'”, I say, quoting a contemporary ad. So of course when asked about my hat, I say it’s from a little shop in my village, Mrs. Milligan’s Millinery, hoping to suggest I made it. The name worked, it was fun, and it stuck. “Mrs. M” started as a “product line” of Viking Leather Sewing & Repair, a business I started in the basement of another shop in Downtown New Glasgow, in 1995.
Life changes, and here we are, 22 years later. I would much rather be making hats – twining ribbons, dyeing feathers, arranging swathing and other trims – than putting new palms into dirty smelly old hockey gloves, as I used to do. I also made a lot of leather flowers, in the Viking Leather days, going to craft shows in 3 provinces, and watching sales dwindle. The internet was not what it is now. My computer had a monotone, amber screen. The processor was smaller than a current give-away thumb drive! (A 286!) and my internet plan gave me 5 hours of usage a month! Times have changed, and we, with them. But how did I get from the basement to here? We (Mr. M. and I, in this case) have both been doing Living History since,the ’90’s. We make most of our historic clothes, and even some shoes. You know what they say – “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”. Well, as a former Career Counsellor, I can vouch for the spirit of the quote, but I assure you there is plenty of work involved. That’s even true of our hobby. But we do it ’cause it’s fun, right? Since then, I have started going to “Geek Fests” Hal-Con, and other Sci-Fi / Fantasy / Cosplay / Anime conventions.
I am at a loss to describe how different the various worlds are, how strange to me, as a Middle-Aged Victorian Minded (snort) Matron. I used to worry they’d dismiss me for being too plain, not interested enough in their own particular branch of Geekery. Instead, I’ve come to love the creativity, the variety, the enthusiasm and attention to detail there is. It matches my own, albeit in a different genre. It’s sort of like being home. So come to our booth, come show us your world, and we can talk about hats.
Here at Mrs. Milligan’s Millinery and Haberdashery, we would like to express our extreme appreciation to our friends, clients, and associates who share their images for these pages. We also greatly admire and appreciate the work of Rebecca Clarke, Emotive Photographer, who provided the elegant photos in Hantsport’s 1860’s Churchill House. The large groups of people in the above pics are members of the Atlantic Living Heritage Association., at events for 1812 and 1760.
A big thank -you goes out to Judith Newman, fibre-artist extraordinaire, who made the framework for this website, and helped me learn to continue. We also thank our friends, clients and consultants who continue to help us become a reality. Without the past, there is no future. Here’s to all of you, and those yet to come!