Every Hat Tells A Story!
Norma Shephard is the founder and director of the Mobile Millinery Museum, a unique travelling museum whose “working hats” have raised funds for diverse causes; from homeless teens in rural Ontario, to cancer research and diagnostic equipment, to a women’s and children’s shelter in Israel. Shephard’s use of hats, shoes, and bridal gowns as cultural story blocks to prompt the telling of tales, myths, and legends transforms audience members into folklore informants, eager to share their own reminiscences.
Recognized as an historian and authority on vintage costume, Shephard has appeared on Canada A.M., CBC Morning, CBC Fresh Air, CBC Ontario Today, CH Morning Live, Breakfast Television, Canadian Living Television, This Morning Live, Main Street, CKCO, The Source, and Neighbour to Neighbour and has been featured in numerous print media. Shephard is the subject of a biography by Patricia Boyle, entitled The Hat Lady. “What Martha has done for the domestic arts, Norma is doing for museum curatorship,” says Boyle. “She has taken material history out of the archives and into the community, presenting it in new and exciting ways. When I realized that Norma was being recognized internationally I knew it was time for a book.”
In 1985 she earned a Canadian Achiever’s Award for entrepreneurship and since founding her museum in 1999, has penned and photographed Accessorizing the Bride; Vintage Wedding Finery Through the Decades (Schiffer Publishing), 1000 Hats (Schiffer Publishing), In Step With Fashion: 200 Years of Shoe Styles (Schiffer Publishing), Lingerie; Two Centuries of Luscious Design (Schiffer Publishing) and Dear Harry; The Firsthand Account of a World War I Infantryman. Col. Gordon Atkinson, retired, said of Dear Harry, “…fascinating and evocative of war … a tome of obvious labour and love. Tim Cook, First World War Historian at the Canadian War Museum and author of Shock Troops said, “As a student of Canadian history your book was a thrilling opportunity to gain insight into a little taught era in our heritage.”
Shephard is also the co-founder of the Northshore Wordsmiths Writers Group. Her freelance articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in the United States and Canada.