The Mackinaw Car Coat
“Good old Roberts! He did the right thing, for it was beastly cold.”
—Soldiers of Fort Saint Joe’s.
Saint Joseph’s Island, 1811.
Captain Charles Roberts sent another of his fatalistic letters to G.H.Q. Alas, winter was approaching, and the captain’s men had not been sent great coats since 1807. Sure, Saint Joseph’s Island was a small dispatch, but for God’s sake, could the Queen’s men not get a decent coat?
Bucking authority (always better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission), he instructed John Askin Jr, the keeper of the King’s store, to use the 3 1/2-point Hudson Bay blankets as coat material. Askin’s wife, Madelaine, saw to designing the full-length coats and, with the help of local seamstresses, made 40 in less than two weeks. The request for blue coats, however, went unfulfilled due to a shortage of blue blankets.
The rest were made in red and various plaids.
Later, when Roberts oversaw the Island of Mackinaw in 1812, his men donned their 3 1/2-point blanket coats to fend off the enemy and the beastly cold. By then, the coats had been trimmed to waist-length, resulting in the classic Mackinaw that we know today.
I’m a little partial to those original, fuller length versions.
Good old Roberts.
The Mackinaw Car Coat (No. 5511). Woolen fabric. Eye-catching, oversized plaid pattern I found on a classic Mackinaw in Hudson, NY. Four black corozo buttons down the center front. Patch pockets with flaps, two interior double-welt pockets. Fully lined. Center back seam and vent. Imported.