This type of coat, equipped with a hood, is made from caribou skin by the First Peoples who inhabit Arctic regions, including northern Canada. It is a must to stay warm.

The meat of the caribou is eaten, and its skin is used to make coats, pants, mittens, and boots. The tanning of the skins is also an art. The hunting is entrusted to the men, but it is the women who tan the skins and make clothing from them.

This parka has long, rounded, paler (almost white) stripes on the front reminiscent of the dewlap of the caribou. The seamstress artists illustrated a caribou skin by skillfully shaving certain sections of fur.

This garment was given to Jean-Jacques Spénard (1913-1996), a ceramic artist, by one of his cousins through marriage, Louis-Philippe Martel, an Oblate Father of Mary Immaculate. The latter served as a missionary in the James Bay region for several years. Father Martel most likely wore this parka, since each one was handmade according to the measurements of the person who would use it.

Louis-Philippe Martel (1883-1981) was the son of Emma Béliveau and Siméon-Xénophon Martel (1856-1923), a merchant from Victoriaville. Following the death of his first wife, the latter got remarried in 1892 to Arlène Spénard (1858-1924), the aunt of Jean-Jacques Spénard. The latter was the son of Florette Nobert and Arthur Spénard, Arlène’s brother.

Donation from the estate of Jean-Jacques Spénard by Suzanne Spénard Lundahl
Musée Pierre-Boucher Collection
1991 1169 C