Della Calder’s Parisian Gown, 1910s
Truman Frederick Calder, a wealthy Saskatoon financial broker, bought this ornate green satin and black silk gown on a trip to Paris, France in 1912 for his wife Della. The delicate hand-stitched embroidery sets the gown apart as an exceptional example of French couture in Saskatchewan.
Della’s dress transports us back to Saskatoon’s first boom time. The entrepreneurial city had not yet felt the hardships of war and economic uncertainty that would shape the next three decades. For Della, her world would change suddenly when she was widowed in 1914.
Finding Her Way
The death of her husband left Della with little money and few options. Though women could inherit property by this time, earning the money required for the upkeep of their large family home was near impossible for a woman without the help of a man’s wages. Women in any profession made significantly less money than men.
In order to financially support herself and her three children, Della was forced to sell the Calder House on Saskatchewan Crescent, one of Saskatoon’s finest homes. They made a new life for themselves in Saskatoon, running a boarding house on Temperance Street.