Student Museum Musings: Guide Uniforms 1987 vs Today

By Victoria, co-op student

Hi everyone! My name is Victoria, and I am a co-op student at the Oshawa Museum. One of my jobs so far has been to organize and take in the items from the Oshawa Girl Guide House collection. Guide House closed in 2014, and the vast collection of artefacts has been in storage ever since. Now, the Oshawa Museum has gotten some of that collection! As a member of Girl Guides of Canada for almost ten years, seeing the items in this collection has been very interesting. Today, I’ll be comparing two Guide (Guides is the branch for girls aged 9 to 11) uniforms: one from 1987, and the latest uniform, released in 2019. From the long skirts of the 1910s, to the t-shirt of today, uniforms have changed quite a bit over the years.

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Image from Girl Guides of Canada Flickr Account: https://www.flickr.com/photos/girlguidesofcan/8203493766/in/album-72157625122062617/

This Guide uniform was released in 1987. Designed by Alfred Sung, a popular Canadian designer, it introduced several changes to the uniforms. One of the biggest changes was pants! Starting in 1991, pants were finally an official option for the “official” uniform. With the addition of pants, a white and blue striped t-shirt, and a blue sweatshirt with red maple leaves were introduced as “official” uniform pieces. Despite the changes, the uniform still retained some of the more formal options from uniforms prior, like a dress, and the belt, though both were redesigned. The uniform scarf was redesigned as well. This uniform was discontinued in 2001, but many people continued to wear it past that date.

Guiding has changed quite a bit since that uniform was introduced in 1987.  In between 2001 and 2020, there were several redesigns to the uniforms. When compared to the 1987 uniform, this latest one is wildly different. Introduced in 2019 as part of Girl Guides of Canada’s rebranding, it is a navy-blue shirt (available in several lengths/fits) with a small white trefoil on the chest. A large white trefoil logo is printed on the back of the shirt. Unlike previous uniforms, this one does not require a badge sash, or a scarf.

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Image from Girl Guides of Canada website: https://www.girlguides.ca/web/GGC/Home/GGC/uniform.aspx

As you may have realized, this uniform is wildly different from previous ones. Uniforms have always changed to reflect the times, and this latest one is no different. This uniform is the first one to consist of only one piece (a t-shirt), and the first to be the same for all branches. This means that everyone, from Sparks to Guiders, has the option to wear the same uniform. And though the uniforms have changed, many of the values and ideas of Guiding stay the same. After all this time, the motto is still “Be Prepared.”


Want to read more? Jill has written about her memories of Guiding and Scouting! Give it a read!


Sources:

Girlguides.ca. (2014). Girl Guides of Canada – Guides du Canada Fun Facts. [online] Available at: https://www.girlguides.ca/web/uploads/File/media_room/media_kit/ggc-fun-facts.pdf.

Girlguides.ca. (2017). Our History – 1990-2009. [online] Available at: http://www.girlguides.ca/web/ON/Girl_Program/ON/Our_History/Our_History_1990_2009.aspx.

Girlguides.ca. (2019). The Girl Guide uniform – English. [online] Available at: https://www.girlguides.ca/web/GGC/Home/GGC/uniform.aspx.

Guidehistory.files.wordpress.com. (2016). Guide Uniforms. [online] Available at: https://guidehistory.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/guide-uniform1.pdf.

Szekely, R. (2014). Iconic Oshawa Girl Guide House for sale. [online] DurhamRegion.com. Available at: https://www.durhamregion.com/community-story/4439970-iconic-oshawa-girl-guide-house-for-sale/ [Accessed 2020].

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