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Randall House - Wolfville Historical Society

Gown, Evening


Accession number: 10.8.2
Category: Main garment
Date: 1860 – 1867
Materials: Fibre, silk; Fibre, cotton; Metal
Narrative: An evening gown of this period was characterized by a low neck and shorter seeves.
Description: 1-piece evening dress with wide scoop neck and pointed front bodice waist. 3-tiered puffed sleeves. Has a back closure of 46 eyelets held together with a gold lace. There is piping at bodice waist edge, the armscye, and neck. Bodice and skirt were made seperately but joined. Whalebone (?) in front darts, bodice lined in cotton. Skirt has 8 panels and is a bell shape, gathered evenly to the waist and a small train at back. The silk fabric has fern and daisy pattern. Separate are two long sleeves that were once attached.
History of Use: The dress was worn by Jane Purcival Cowan and was part of her wedding trousseau. She was married to George Barnard Baker (b. 1834 - d. 1910) a Quebec lawyer and political figure. He  was Liberal -Conservative member of the Canadian House of Commons,  and a representative of the Legislative Assembly of Quebec. He was named to the Senate of Canada in 1896 and served until his death. He and Jane had 2 daughters and 4 sons. The Baker family were United Empire Loyalists who settled in the Eastern Townships in Quebec. The Cowan family were of Irish descent. Peter Cowan (b. 1817 d 1880), Jane Purcival Cowan's father, came to Nelsonville from Montreal in 1836 with his brother Andrew  where he bacame the first postmaster, also a merchant, clerk of the Circuit Court, member of the local militia and later Sherriff of the District of Bedford.  Nelsonville later was renamed Cowansville. This dress came from the estate of Kenneth Baker, the donor's husband, who was a descendant of George Barnard Baker, and  who was long time resident of Wolfville.