Unveiling the New Town Crier Uniform for Lloyd Smith

SLR_4_3472-005The Town Crier Uniform, that I have been working on for Lloyd Smith, these past almost six months, was unveiled on May 18, 2013, amidst much to-do at the Convocation Hall at King’s Edgehill School in Windsor, Nova Scotia. It was a most appropriate place for this event, which was well attended by Lloyd’s many supporters.SLR_4_3471-010

The Hall is almost one-hundred and fifty years old, so a very good setting for this 18th century Uniform. So wonderfully Gothic, it is stunning both inside and out. I had never visited this building prior to this event and I was so impressed with the beauty of this old place, that I had to do some research about it. The Convocation Hall at Kings Edgehill School is renowned as Canada’s first library Museum building. Made of sandstone it was designed by architect David Stirling, and built by George Lang, who was a Stonemason.SLR_4_3641-003

This incredible building took six years to complete between 1861 and 1867 and was built on the original campus of King’s College School which was founded in 1788. In 1923 King’s College moved to Halifax but the school continued at it’s present location. Originally a school for boys, King’s Edgehill School is the oldest private residential school in Canada. This is a beautiful place, lovely buildings, beautiful expanses of green and even a great view.

Convocation Hall is valued as a rare example of nineteenth century Gothic Revival stone architecture. It, and all land within a distance of 10 feet surrounding the building is designated as a Provincial Heritage site.SLR_4_3648-002

Today it continues to function as a library and is the oldest library built for that purpose in Nova Scotia. SLR_4_3528-002It is also used as a gathering place for various events.

Although King’s Edgehill is a private school you can tour this building by appointment, as well as several other nineteenth century buildings on the property including a lovely Chapel, and the Head Master’s home.

Lloyd Smith is celebrating 35 years as the official Town Crier for the Town of Windsor. He is also the official Town Crier for the Apple Blossom Festival, where he will be wearing this new uniform in public for the first time at the Coronation of Queen Annapolisa 2013, on May 31st. He is Honourary Town Crier for Kentville, Kingston, Greenwood, New Minas, Hantsport and Wolfville, as well as the Counties of Kings and West Hants.

SLR_4_3526-003Many dignitaries were present for the unveiling of this new uniform. MP Scott Brison was not able to attend but sent along a very nice congratulatory letter.  MLAs Jim Morton and Ramona Jennex spoke, so did Windsor Mayor Paul Beazley and Kentville Mayor Dave Corkum. Many more supporters and council members, past and present, of the various communities that he volunteers his talents to, were also present.

Ed Coleman, who is the official piper for Acadia University and a well known columnist in the valley, was present to pipe and escort Lloyd into the hall. There was an honour guard from King’s Edgehill, and fellow Town Crier Gary Long and his wife Sara. Gary is the official Town Crier for Berwick and Canning. His wife Sara accompanies him to most events and is always dressed in period costume herself.SLR_4_3543-002

Roger Taylor and the Horton High School Senior String Ensemble were present to provide beautiful period music which everyone very much enjoyed, and which did certainly lend a certain ambiance to the occasion. Jason Calnen from Light and Lens Photography was there to take the official photographs, and David Bannerman served as Master of Ceremonies. Even I had a role to play and was there to speak about the construction of the uniform.

Lloyd’s oldest uniform was presented and donated to the Hants Historical Society.

It was a rather fine afternoon and my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Don’t forget to click on the pictures to view them in full size; and come again, for I will soon be writing a post that will focus on the construction of this beautiful uniform.SLR_4_3558-002



Aboard a man-of-war, the cry “Up or Down!” was not an uncommon one to hear in the morning hours—it signaled the beginning of the naval day, as the watch below in their hammocks, resting precariously close to one another, would have to rise to meet the tasks and challenges set before them by the ship’s warrant officers. Up or down indeed; either rise with the cry from your betters, or be “relieved” of your resting place with a quick cut of your hammock strings! I’m sure it wouldn’t take too many tumbles to condition instant readiness!

The anecdote is meaningful—it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog update, and I mean to correct that negligent behaviour. Life has a way of intervening, and a busy schedule often affects the priority we place on Capstan updates. That doesn’t make it right, certainly, but it does present itself as a reasonable explanation!

We’ve a few updates to convey. Firstly, I will be working on a decent summation of our Tall Ships experience in 2009. We’re coming up on the one year anniversary of the event, and while we’ve posted a boatload of pictures (found here), I haven’t yet written a detailed narrative of the experience (which still strikes me as one of the most evocative and wonderful trips yet). It’s on the way!

This post, however, will focus chiefly on some recent work Man the Capstan has accepted (referenced with our lovely header and the title of this post). We don’t usually perform work outside of our own interests, but have always pondered on the opportunity to offer our services to others in the community (both geographically and online). Our tailor, Johanna, is a very resourceful woman and extremely talented with a sewing needle (as evidenced by our growing collection of reproductions). With history as our guide and inspiration, she has been able to craft some very elegant and accurate replicas.

It turns out that a chance encounter in a grocery store led our official town crier, Lloyd Smith, to inquire about our services; it seems he had a uniform that was quite well-worn that needed some restorative work. Johanna’s experience  with tailoring has always been from the ground-up (creating a uniform or dress from scratch, using her own patterns and materials), so we approached the job tentatively but with enthusiasm! After having viewed the uniform in question, it seemed like a possible endeavour and certainly seemed like an exciting task! We offered a quote for our services, and having obtained approval Johanna set to work.

Before we get into the details of the restorative work, I did want to comment a bit on our very personable town crier. Mr. Lloyd Smith is a talented appointed official with the Town of Windsor, but also serves as town crier for many municipalities in the region including West Hants, Kings County, Wolfville, New Minas, Kentville, Kingston and Greenwood. Mr. Smith attends many events within Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley in his official capacity, invoking the historical charm of the region with his theatrical talent and presence—to be a town crier, I’ve learned, is not a simple matter; it is a skill and talent that takes training, experience, and perhaps most importantly, personality! Lloyd Smith is the most dedicated and senior of town criers in all of North America, having served his communities loyally for over thirty-one (31) years!

In his capacity as crier, Mr. Smith has a couple of uniforms in his possession; the one that Man the Capstan was to restore would be his bright red, circa 1760, 45th Regiment of Foot uniform, a highly accurate garb that had seen better days. The uniform is comprised of soldier-red breeches, waistcoat, coat and cloak; the coat and waistcoat is lined in silver bias-and-stand military lace. The buttons along the coat and waistcoat are silver as well. The breeches and coat had several areas of wear, leaving parts of the cloth threadbare (in some areas, especially where Mr. Smith would tuck his bell under his arm, holes had begun to manifest).

The silver bias-and-stand lace had become tattered, worn and had most certainly lost its shine and lustre. Man the Capstan recommended that all of the military lace be replaced. The buttons had to be restored or replaced, and the holes on the arms and breeches would have to be patched. Thankfully, the breeches were easily corrected with a patch that fit neatly along the seam of the seat. For the arms Johanna had to be creative; after conferring with Lloyd they agreed that a contrasting colour and material could be used to create a “protective” patch—a soldier’s brown in suede that, when completed, looked fairly charming! Though perhaps not quite accurate for a soldier in the 45h Regiment, it was perfect for a town crier who would tuck a bell ‘neath his arm. It made the uniform particular to his vocation!

In my opinion, however, I believe the most stunning work was the replacement of all the lace. This was an incredibly time-consuming task. All of the old lace had to be carefully removed. This included all of the waistcoat, all of trim around the pockets and cuffs and all of the lace on the cloak. Replacement lace had to be ordered from our very good friends at MilitaryHeritage, who shipped it to us in a very expedient manner (thanks again guys!) Comparing the new lace to the old, it was clear that such an addition would breathe a incredible amount of life into the uniform. The buttons were silver, but in poor condition. Using a technique we picked up from our Marine uniform reproduction, Johanna was able to apply some silver plater to the buttons (after having removed every single one, however), which gave them a new lease on life!

The uniform was dry-cleaned and pressed before work began, so after the restorative work had been complete it looked like a new uniform. Johanna was quite pleased with how everything turned out, and Mr. Smith received some very nice comments following the work. It had been Man the Capstan‘s first real official gig (that included some form of monetary reimbursement), and was quite a success. Mr. Smith and the Town of Windsor were a treat to deal with, and all of us here are very excited to see Mr. Smith in his 45th Regiment of Foot while at work!

Until next time!