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.

Image from Girl Guides of Canada Flickr Account:

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.

Basic RGB
Image from Girl Guides of Canada website:

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: (2014). Girl Guides of Canada – Guides du Canada Fun Facts. [online] Available at: (2017). Our History – 1990-2009. [online] Available at: (2019). The Girl Guide uniform – English. [online] Available at: (2016). Guide Uniforms. [online] Available at:

Szekely, R. (2014). Iconic Oshawa Girl Guide House for sale. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2020].

Guiding and Scouting

By Jill Passmore, Visitor Experience Co-ordinator

Some of the earliest and most fond memories of growing up in Oshawa stem from my family’s involvement in Guiding and Scouting. Everything happened at Glen Stewart Club House on Cartier Avenue, just west of the Oshawa Centre, though I’m fairly certain Waverly PS and St. Michael CS were temporary or later locations for some units.

I started as a Brownie, with a brown dress uniform, white tie with orange maple leafs printed on it, and sash and small leather pouch for dues. Today my daughter wears pants and a t-shirt with brown trim. The tie is the same, but the maple leafs are brown. The sash is still there but online payments ahead of time or post dated cheques have replaced the dues pouches! An online program has even replaced the Brownie workbook, but that just happened this year. Later I flew up to Guides, wearing my sister’s hand me down uniform, which I donated to the Museum within the last few years.

Guiding taught me so many important life lessons and I am proud to tell people how I learned them. The responsibility of taking care of a pet, learning to do laundry and why it’s important to keep a clean home. How to sew on a button and be a good hostess. These may seem dated and useless to many kids today, but I challenge you to find an eleven year old who can properly introduce themselves to adults or sew a hole in their clothing.


My parents were supportive when we no longer wanted to be involved in Guiding or Scouting, but until then, they were just as involved as we were. Dad was Hawkeye and Mom was Rainbow as Beaver and Cub leaders. After I was finished with Guiding, I still spent a lot of time attending Cub meetings when my Mom was working. My Dad tired hard to lobby for me to join the organization at a time when the policy was staunchly ‘no girls allowed.’ My son wondered why I was able to tell him what the Beaver Motto was (complete with bent beaver teeth hand gesture); I bet he’ll wonder when I can recite the Cub Grand Howl to him too!

Recently, we all had the opportunity to visit the Scout Shop at Camp Samac. Did you know that it still smells the same thirty years later? Growing up the whole family had grey wool campfire blankets. We would sew on patches and badges we’d earned and later of other places we’d visited. When I went as a kid, we’d always get to pick out a new patch that we would sew on ourselves. We all took great pride in our campfire blankets. Returning as an adult is just as fun. Everything has a slightly different meaning. My new ‘I survived camp’ patch means I got through the weekend by sleeping in a trailer with a clean bathroom and kids that haven’t maimed each other and a bottle of wine, and not my daughter’s version of ‘I survived one night of Sparks camp without my brother.’


I’m hoping that my kids will begin to understand how meaningful these experiences will be to them in the future. The games I played, the songs I’ve sung are all things that I share with them now as a parent and product of Guiding and Scouting.

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