What hairstyles were worn in Canada’s capital city in the 19th century?

The fashion for hairstyles in the territory of modern Ottawa, like the fashion for clothes, came from the European countries of England and France. In the 19th century, the hairstyles were as aristocratic as possible. During that period, wide dresses with ruffles, lace and various fur additions became the most fashionable in Canadian cities. The fashion for hairstyles was changing rapidly. It was constantly set by European countries. In the 18th century, very elaborate hairstyles that could take half a day to make and wigs came into fashion. As for the 19th century in the modern day Ottawa territory,  it was the century when natural hair color was fashionable. Canadian women frequently cut their hair pretty short or knotted it into a bun exposing their necks. The most popular in the 19th century were the curls that covered the face. They were added to almost all hairstyles. Learn more at ottawanka.com.

Jane Austen women’s hairstyle

Portrait of Jane Austen

Jane Austen was an English writer in the 18th and 19th centuries. After her death, fashionistas decided to inherit her image. That fashion reached the women of Ottawa as well. 

Jane Austen’s hairstyle was highly in vogue in the 1820s. It was highly fashionable to part the hair on your head in the center and pull it back smoothly. Complementing this hairstyle were all sorts of hats. It was the hairstyle that Jane herself wore.

Open Mind men’s hairstyles

Portrait of Beethoven

In addition to women’s hairstyle fashions, there was a fashion for men’s hairstyles in old 19th-century Ottawa as well. Men’s hairstyles were much more straightforward than women’s hairstyles. Canadians didn’t bother with elaborate hairstyles or wigs. Men in the 19th century had a fashion for looking natural. 

In the early 1800s, the men of Ottawa territory used no artificial products whatsoever, unlike the women. The hair on the men’s heads looked very disheveled. It was exceedingly dry but the men appeared exceptionally natural-looking with such hairstyles. Among Canadians in the early 19th century, it was generally believed that such a natural look emphasized their individuality. This hairstyle, in particular, was worn by Beethoven back in the 18th century. Europeans constantly set the fashion trends, except that European fashion reached Canadians with a delay. Therefore, residents of old Ottawa and other Canadian cities have often been considered old fashioned.

It was only later that men began to devote more time to their hairstyles and began to care about the condition of their hair and how best to style it to look as perfect as possible.

A 19th century photo from the National Gallery of Canada

The absence of a mustache and beard

Portrait of Friedrich Schelling

In the early 19th century, it was not fashionable for Ottawa men to grow mustaches and beards. Such men were seen quite rarely in Canadian cities. It was because men gave all their attention to the hair on their heads and their natural appearance. For shaving, the men of old Ottawa used knives. In the 19th century, it was believed that a man with a shaved face had more expressive hair on his head.

A 19th century photo from the National Gallery of Canada

A 19th century photo from the National Gallery of Canada

Fashion for hair curling

A portrait of Queen Victoria

In the 1830s, curling hair for women became the most popular. In the first half of the 19th century, women spent a great deal of time making sure the hair on their heads looked as exquisite as possible. 

In the 19th century, the women living in old Ottawa curled their hair in many different ways and many variations. They curled hair strands upwards or created loops of curls. Moreover, they even invented their own hairstyle. The main thing was to have curls in it. 

Such a hairstyle looked extremely elegant. Even Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain made curls in the 19th century. Therefore, this trend has become very fashionable in modern Ottawa.

A 19th century photo from the National Gallery of Canada

Pulled back gathered hair 

A photo of Queen Victoria

One more trend that Queen Victoria set worldwide, including in Ottawa, was the fashion of pulled-back gathered hair. Queen Victoria, in particular, wore her hair pulled back in the Victorian era. The Victorian era was a time of enormous economic and industrial boom that occurred in European countries and Canada between 1837 and 1901. So Since Queen Victoria was queen not only of the United Kingdom but also of Canada, many Canadian women imitated her. Queen Victoria wore her hair pulled back and gathered quite often.

A particular feature of this 19th-century hairstyle was that Canadian fashionistas lifted their hair and gathered it in a bun at the nape of their necks. At the same time, the women living in old Ottawa made small loops around their ears in the form of plaits or ordinary strands. Such a hairstyle looked very classy. Queen Victoria, compared to the usual fashionistas, had much more details in her pulled back gathered hairstyle. It showed her superiority.

A 19th century photo from the National Gallery of Canada

Fashion for men’s beards

A 19th century photo from the National Gallery of Canada

Fashion is very changeable. While in the early 19th century, it was fashionable for Canadian men to have a shaved face as early as the 1850s, men started growing facial hair.

It was very fashionable among men in the territory of old Ottawa to have the curls around their cheeks and jaw. At the same time, mustaches were not in vogue, so Ottawans tried to shave them off as much as possible, leaving only the beard and sideburns. Thick beards and sideburns were quite popular in the middle of the 19th century.

Volume men’s hairstyles

The fashion for men’s hairstyles also changed in the middle of the 19th century. Residents of old Ottawa began to devote more time to their appearance, styling and other things. In the 1850s, the high hairstyle was very fashionable among Ottawans. All hair was slicked back and combed. With such a styling, the men’s heads had very high waves in the middle of their heads, with much smaller waves on the sides. The top of the men’s heads looked as high as possible with such a hairstyle. With such styling in the middle of the 19th century, men used many artificial products to achieve maximum volume and long-lasting styling.

Rolled hair on the sides

A portrait of Queen Victoria

In the 1850s, hairpins became fashionable for women. Women of old Ottawa started using them in their everyday hairstyles. The most popular hairstyle in the mid-19th century was rolled hair on the sides. Such a hairstyle resembled a small hat. It created a uniquely elegant look. Rolled hair on the sides was done with both gathered and loose hair.

Strict parting in the middle

A portrait of Queen Victoria

Besides having their hair rolled on the sides, there was another fashionable hairstyle among Canadian women in the mid-19th century. It was very simple yet elegant, featuring a strict parting in the middle and pulled back gathered hair. At the same time, the pulled back gathered hair completely covered the ears. It was not the hairstyle worn by all the women of old Ottawa in the mid-19th century. Those women with hair that was too thick could not hear well because their hair was too tight around their ears.

Lower hairstyle for men

The fashion for high hairstyles among Canadian men was short-lived. In the late 1850s, fashion had already changed. The hairstyle remained similar to the previous one, but, at the same time, the Ottawans began to do less tall styling. Besides that, citizens of old Ottawa separated it with a parting and started covering the sides of their ears. As before, men used a lot of chemicals to make their hairstyles last as long as possible.