Haliburton Dinner Jacket in national spotlight
By Sue Tiffin
Published Dec. 27, 2017
Imagine Matt Duchene’s amusement to see a sign being held by a young Ottawa Senators fan with a shout-out to a hometown joke.
“If Matt Duchene scores, Dad will buy us Haliburton Dinner Jackets,” read the sign, which was captured in a photo Duchene posted to social media.
“Easily the best sign I’ve ever seen...great job, kid!” he posted alongside the photo on Instagram. “Way too funny and made me feel right at home.”
The photo, with a #haliburtondinnerjacket hashtag, was liked almost 17,000 times, bringing attention to a longtime gag that a red and black plaid shirt can be considered formal wear in cottage country.
The Haliburton Dinner Jacket was also in the national spotlight when Tara Slone and Ron MacLean, visiting Haliburton for Hometown Hockey, wore shirts on air gifted to them by Suzanne and Walt McKechnie.
“I thought, they should take something home that would make them think of Haliburton, and the Haliburton Dinner Jacket came to mind,” said Suzanne.
“We just had to find the right lumberjacket. I kept sending Walt into town to get the right jacket, the traditional lumberjacket, which he found at Bernstein’s.”
With the help of a seamstress in Eagle Lake, a black and white paisley pattern was added to the collar and cuffs.
“It kind of made it into a sort of country-city combination,” said Suzanne. “I just wanted it to be a little more modern, bring it up to date a little bit and put a little twist on it.”
Suzanne said she thought it was bit of Haliburton culture that she remembers as a child growing up in the area, that the hosts could take with them. She was happily surprised to see them wear the “dinner jackets” during the live broadcast across the nation.
“We told them, if you have one of these, you can go anywhere in Haliburton,” she said.
Laurie Bonfield at Country Pickin’s has been selling red and black plaid clothing – everything from socks, scarves, vests, sweaters, pajamas and flannel shirts – for decades.
“It never goes out, ever,” said Bonfield, who sources the items from Woolrich, where the iconic pattern originated in 1850.
“For over 165 years, Woolrich has produced the Buffalo Check pattern at our woolen mill in central Pennsylvania,” reads the Woolrich website, which states the Buffalo Check Wool Shirt was the first article of clothing featuring the pattern. “An instant hit with workers and outdoorsmen alike, the rugged piece became synonymous with quality and dependability.”
Woolrich said the history of the pattern can be traced back to the 1700s, at least, and is known as MacGregor Red and Black by the Scottish Tartans Authority. Though it’s unknown how the pattern came to North America, Woolrich claims it was their idea to start using it.
“The name [Buffalo Check] seems to connote the wild open spaces of the west,” reads the Woolrich site. “Legend has it that the Woolrich designer who first introduced the distinctive pattern back in 1850 owned a herd of buffalo – nothing more complicated than that. The name stuck and the rest is history.”
“It’s weekend wear, cottage wear, outdoor wear, it’s just a classic,” said Bonfield, who sells out of clothing featuring the red and black pattern regularly and said it’s one of her No. 1 sellers. “It’s one of the staples. I’ve got a feeling it always will be.”
Sterling Nesbitt and her fellow teammates on the Oshawa Lady Generals Bantam A team are now proud wearers of the Haliburton Dinner Jacket after V&S Stedman’s donated 17 shirts to the team.
“We are proud to call Haliburton County home, with the town of Minden being our hometown,” wrote her dad Wyatt on social media.
“We are fortunate to have businesses in our area making sure these girls, who they have never met yet, receive a gift that will turn into an adventure with lifelong memories.”
The girls will wear the Haliburton Dinner Jackets to a Senators game on Feb. 1, where they’ll have the chance to meet with Duchene. No word on whether he’ll be wearing one, too, although he did tell the Ottawa Sun he has a couple he usually wears fishing.
“I think everyone has one somewhere around the house,” said Suzanne.