When Canadian pride peaks (usually during hockey games), Canadians like to say that they live in the "Great White North." That white is a reference to the blankets of snow that envelop the country for many months of the year. It's true that snow is absolutely beautiful during month one. By month four, it's less charming and just plain cold in cities like Toronto.
Tuck Shop Trading Company's coats are warm, durable and fashionable — Photo courtesy of Christine Flynn
When your fashion choices start to boil down to whether or not your articles of clothing have a fleece lining, your fellow patriots start to look uniformly bland. It takes a true Canadian to understand the need for contemporary outerwear that won't make the wearer look washed out.
The pop-up shop has cashmere galore — Photo courtesy of Christine Flynn
This is where Lyndsay Borschke comes in, as owner and designer of Tuck Shop Trading Company. After designing and selling clothing to camps and schools around North America, she quickly found that much interest lay in the toques. For those who don't know, the toque is a knit cap.
When asked if her American customers get the lingo, Borschke admits, "We have to explain it. In Montreal, they spell it differently as well because in French, toque is a chef's hat. T-u-q-u-e is the spelling in Quebec. In the US, you seem like you are speaking another language."
Your neighborhood is your identity, so wear it loud and proud — Photo courtesy of Lyndsay Borschke
Language exchange is about to occur at a rapid rate, as Tuck Shop Trading Company's growth has recently expanded to Montreal and L.A. (Who knew that they needed winter hats there?) New York is also coming up.
Big growth for a company that launched their cheery hats with 14 Toronto neighborhoods! Considering that there are 140 official neighborhoods in Toronto alone, this is a big job, indeed.
Borschke laughs, "As the requests came in, we started adding them on."
The Annex is the area around the University of Toronto; now it can be around your middle — Photo courtesy of Jennifer Morden
Borschke does the design work, which is then translated into a knitting program. She was starting the search for a flagship store in Toronto when she found out that she was pregnant.
"I didn't think I could pull off both things at the same time," she admits.
Still, she jumped at the opportunity when a pop-up store, well, popped up. Now the plan is to be at 1226 Yonge St. in Toronto until at least April or May 2015.
We don't often see deer in the city — Photo courtesy of Christine Flynn
The pop-up Tuck Shop Trading Company is resplendent in rustic charm. A wall is decorated with everything from a deer head to canoe paddles to road maps. Cashmere scarves are piled atop one another, each color peeking out prettily on the shelf.
Hats with the neighborhood markers sit in basket shelves, effectively held prisoner until bought and displayed in the open air. Won't you rescue one?
A toque for you, a tuque for your cousin in Montreal and a beanie for your friend in New York — Photo courtesy of Christine Flynn
But the intention is to open a permanent location that works as a showroom and a retail space by the fall of 2015. Until then, you can visit the pop-up or shop online for county-inspired sophistication in the form of capes, coats and, of course, toques.
"Toques are very Canadian," says Borschke. "It's a fun way to be proud of who you are."
Winter is also part and parcel of being Canadian. We might as well look darn good during it.