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Islands Museum

Costume, Performance

Accession number: 1994.029.09a-c
Object subtype: Knights of the Maccabees
Date: 1881 – 1914
Materials: fabric
Measurements: 94 cm LHat: 56cm inside circumference, Shield: 50cm in diameter
Narrative: The Knights of the Maccabees of Laurier Tent #11 in Tiverton used soldier costumes in the Degree and initiation ceremonies, representing the Maccabean army. Founded in London, Ontario in 1878, the Knights of the Maccabees took their name from the biblical Jewish family who rebelled against Antiochus IV and reconsecrated the defiled Temple in Jerusalem. A benevolent legal reserve society, they provided sick and death benefits to their members, who had to be white persons of sound health and good character. Those who made, sold or drank alcohol were automatically excluded from membership, as were workers of dangerous professions, such as coal miners. Their motto was Astra Castra Numen Lumen, meaning: The stars my camp, the Deity my light, and the colours were black, red and white. Each chapter was known as a Tent, and contained the offices of Commander, Lt. Commander, Knight Record Keeper, Master at Arms, Sergeant, Chaplain, Guards, Sentinel and Picket. Many Tents also had the office of Past Commander. Among their rituals was the conferment of degrees, namely the Degree of Protection, the Degree of Friendship, and the Degree of Loyalty. Each involved a ceremony and dramatization of biblical events associated with the rebellion led by the group’s namesake, Judas Maccabeus. In 1914 the name was shortened to the Maccabees, and in 1962 became the Maccabees Mutual Life Insurance Company. This costume was made by Dominion Regalia, a Toronto Ontario company that has been in operation since 1881. Originally catering to fraternal and religious organizations, they now (2007) have four areas of specialty: awards and identification, fraternal organizations, embroidered, and church products.

Knights of the Maccabees soldier costume with hat and shield. Bodice is woven in fish scale design, silver metal thread inside and blue cotton thread as edging. Lined with loosely woven muslin. Drop waistband in solid black cotton, edged at top and bottom with gold metallic trim. Three oblong panels hang from waistband, constructed of bodice material and backed with black cotton. Middle chevron longer than other two. Full-length sleeves in black cotton. Back has iron snap closures down full length of garment. Skirt is four panel A-line of same black cotton with gold metallic trim above hemline. Hat has a crown of white cotton with blue ruching around the base. Interior is woven muslin with stiffening applied. Hand sewn black stiff material on interior with newspaper used to stiffen around brim. Shield is tin with arm brace and grip on interior side. Concave with 3 divisions marked out by decorative ridging.