As Town Crier, I adopt different styles of livery to suit the event. Hats are a prime example, and I have the following in my repertoire.
A tricorne hat is traditional style for a town crier, and dates back to the 17th century in
France and Spain. It was worn by both aristocracy and common civilians. The distinguishing
characteristic is that three sides of the brim were turned up to form a triangle around the
crown. Often, feather plumage added to the style (representing the quill pen used to author
cries, verifying we can read and write), and gold/silver/red braiding accents the edges.
Beaver Fur Hat
Beaver Fur hats were the product of the fur trade, becoming highly fashionable in Europe,
They were also worn by the Factors (senior traders) when they negotiated to buy beaver and
other fur pelts from the native Indians along the Fur Brigade Trail that wended its way
through the Okanagan in the 1820s until 1846, when the 49th parallel became the
Top hats were in style at the time Okanagan towns were being founded. Notably this
included the founding of Peachland, Summerland and Naramata, all by John Moore Robinson
in the late 1890s. I have several. The white top hat. is integral to my all-white Summer outfit,
which in turn may be modified using other-coloured top hats, complemented with same- coloured cummerbund/hankie/ascot. For variety with my traditional livery, other colours for
accessories include red, black, blue, grey, brown, gold.
Many Town Criers opt for a coat similar in style to the blue one shown here. It is a great-coat and
certainly stands out from the crowd. It allows for formal occasions, and during colder weather.
It transitioned into cutaway morning coats (tails replaced wraparound cloth) in late 19th century,
and I have chosen a style between the two.
I have chosen blue as the great-coat colour, to represent the water of Lake Okanagan, and the
grapes that make the wine. Gold pocket trim adds impact, and represents the golden sun of the
The waist-coat or frock-coat is traditional attire of a Town Crier, with contrasting gold colour
from the great-coat to enhance impact. It went out of fashion near the end of the 19th century, but
is a fair representation of tradition and timeliness for settlers to the area. I have chosen gold as its
colour, representing the gold rush that brought early settlers to the Okanagan (there wasn’t much
gold in this area, but many settlers stayed), and also representing the golden sun that blesses our
A blue capelet completes the fabric parts of my upper-body outfit. It also is trimmed with gold
to match the waist-coat.
Shirt and Jabot
I wear a white shirt with frilled sleeves, suitable for the time period my traditional outfit
represents. A jabot is attached at the throat. A jabot is a decorative clothing accessory consisting
of lace or other fabric falling from the throat, suspended from or attached to a neckband or collar;
or simply pinned at the throat. It evolved from the frilling or ruffles decorating the front of a shirt
in the 19th century. For more formal occasions, I wear a formal shirt with a bow tie whose colour
may match a vest worn over the shirt..
Breeches that reach just below the knee are another traditional element of Town Crier attire. I
have chosen black for my breeches, representing the mining industry that developed in this area
after the gold rush, including Gladstone Mine and Brenda Mine. My white Summer outfit includes
stove-pipe linen pants reminiscent of those worn (then usually grey pinstripes) at the beginning
of the 20th century.
Traditional garb for Town Criers included either buckle shoes, or knee-high boots. I have
buckle shoes, with knee-high white socks. I also have knee-high boots, in a blended black/brown,
to represent colours often attributed to the Ogopogo in early sightings, although green/black is
more common today (I cover that by having a green Ogopgo carved onto my staff. My white
Summer outfit includes white casual loafers and white socks.
My traditional livery is several layers of relatively thick material, too hot for the Okanagan
Summers, where temperatures frequently exceed 30 degrees Celsius. For shoulder season events,
I do not wear the great-coat - the gold waist-coat and blue capelet yield a better match for the
However, for the hot Summer days, even that is too perspiration-inspiring, so I have created a
whole new Summer outfit, with the added purpose of being reminiscent of our white-man
founders, and particularly John Moore Robinson. The outfit is white linen (created in Naramata),
including stove-pipe pants & a white shirt with stand-up band collar (standard in the 19th century).
A white top hat adds to the period effect. The outfit is accessorized with cummerbund, hankie and
ascot, also in white. The non-colour of white yields a high-impact colourful effect. Sometimes,
I wear a vest to introduce a colour particular to the event in which I will be performing. For variety, I also
have the accessories in red, black, peach (for Peachland), yellow, blue, silver, and more!.
Mrs. Town Crier is both my consort, dressed in comparable attire, and also the videographer, who uses an iPhone to record most CRYs that I do. We make these available to our clients, and, on request, upload them to our YouTube page for future viewing by them and their family & friends.
Most Town Criers use a handbell (similar to a school bell) to draw attention to their following
CRYs. Some in Netherlands used a gong, and in France a drum.
I have chosen a handbell as my instrument of noise, and it is very special! It was gifted to me by
a teacher who taught at my high school in Winnipeg years after I graduated. He now lives in the
same condo complex as my wife and I, in Peachland BC. The name of the school is Gordon Bell. it is
now date-inscribed with both his name as donor, and mine as Okanagan Town Crier.
Staff (Walking Stick)
A staff lends authority to the user, and I have chosen to have a walking stick for that reason.
The staff also represents the lumber industry that grew out of opening the Brenda Mine, when
Peachland, for example, grew from 750 to 3500.
I have two staffs, both about 5 feet high, as follows:
Authentic walking stick, with a green Ogopogo carved onto the top of the black walnut stick. The
staff is a branch from a tree planted in Vernon in 1959 by Queen Elizabeth II
The Ogopogo was designed by a Cree native, Mel Ellis, & carved by her husband, Fred
Barrett (Marchand), of WFN/Okanagan tribe. They own Fred & Mel’s Eclectic Native Art, in Vernon.
See their contact info under Links. They are special authentic people, who have become friends.
Diamond willow hiking stick is the second staff. This is a popular hardwood, light in weight, but strong, with beautiful contrasting light and dark colours, the dark being in diamond shape. Grape leaves and fruit clusters adorn the stick, which is used for Ok-WINE-agan performances. Designer and painter again was Mel Ellis.
Scroll and Its Pouch
The scroll is a critical element of my Livery. On it will be the messages I deliver. The scroll is
made of aged parchment, with walnut finials (handles). When unrolled, I attach
a page(s), with scroll-like appearance, that has the specific message(s) on it.
To have ready access to the scroll, I wear a pouch that the finials/parchment
fit into. I have pouches in several colours, including red, blue (same as great-
coat), black, white, BC Tartan, gold.
Another modern addition to my Town Crier’s livery is a portable waistband amplifier and microphone to enhance my voice for outdoor events.
No, I don’t wear a website. However, it is a key marketing tool to let people know what a Town Crier does, and to arrange for appearances.
I have been truly blessed to have my website designed and built by Travis Oleniak, who is also a very talented photographer, videographer and designer. Travis was an inspiration and a joy to work with – great ideas, quickly implemented, and always available. Refer to Links for how to reach Travis.
As with all aspects of being a Town Crier, building relationships and goodwill is essential to the total experience. Hazel from Calowna Costume visualized and created a terrific uniform from patterns, sewing the great-coat, cape and waist-coat, and staff there (Kerri, Jo, Laura, and Victoria) were amazing help in planning the total outfit.