As Molson Canadian's "Joe" has told us many times: "a tuque is a hat." But we all know that for us style-conscious Canadians, a tuque is much more than just a hat. It's a fashion statement a way to keep our heads warm and our mullets looking good.
But as fashionable as today's tuques may be, these close-fitting hats made their way into the fashion world long before the 20th century. Before the "tuque" there was the "toque," a round brimless cap women wore in the 12th and 13th centuries to perfectly accessorize their outfits. In fact, it wasn't until the late 16th century that black velvet toques became popular for men to wear.
Although the velvet toques were a popular fashion statement throughout Europe, the actual warm tuques we know today find their roots in French Canadian travellers who, in the mid-1800s, trekked through present day Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba in search of pelts. These wandering travellers used these close fitting "beanies" (as the rest of the world likes to call them) to keep themselves warm during our frigid winter temperature and, thus, began the long tradition of the Canadian tuque.
Canadians love their tuques so much that we even named a town after them. In southern Quebec there is a town called La Tuque. It started out as a lumbering settlement and received its name from a rock on the river's edge that was shaped like, none other than, a tuque.
Canadians are proud of our tuque heritage and so we should be. After all, any clothing accessory that started out being worn by wandering travellers in search of pelts, but is still considered stylish today, should be something to be proud of.