Historical Performances

Bloomers and Bicycles across Canada: 1850 – 1900

Join Grant Simpson as he sings, plays and talks his way through the “Bloomer controversy” of the 1850s, to the High-Wheel racing of the 1880s and 90s. Learn how “the wheel” took Canada by storm and even ended up as an unlikely vehicle in the great Klondike Gold Rush.

Hear about Amelia Bloomer and how she started the “Rational Dress Movement” to free women of the heavy, bulky cloths of the Victoria era. Unbeknownst to her, a garment she suggested as rational was to soon don her name.

Hear the story of Quebec born Louise Armaindo who took the Bicycle Racing World of the 1880s and 90s by storm. Louise took on men, women, horses and anyone else who wanted to challenge her on her trusty High-Wheel.

Through the 60 minute historical show, Grant uses singing, storytelling, joking, piano, banjo, musical saw and guitar to tell the story of “Bloomers and Bicycles Across Canada”

Songs include:
 Harrah for Girls in Bloomers
 The Bloomers Complaint
 I’d Be a Bloomer Girl
 Get yer Lamps Lit
 The Scorcher
 The Bicycle Race
 …and more

More about Amelia Bloomer:
Born Amelia Jenks on May 27, 1818 in Homer, NY, she was the first woman to own, operate and edit a news vehicle for women.
At 22 she met and married Dexter Bloomer who encouraged her to write for his NY newspaper. He also supported her activism and even gave up drinking in support of her temperance movement involvement
In 1848, Bloomer attended the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women’s rights convention

The following year, she began editing the first newspaper for women, The Lily. It was published biweekly from 1849 until 1853. The newspaper began as a temperance journal, but came to have a broad mix of contents ranging from recipes to moralist tracts
The paper encountered several obstacles early on, and the Society’s enthusiasm died out. Bloomer felt a commitment to publish and assumed full responsibility for editing and publishing the paper

In her publication, Bloomer promoted a change in dress standards for women that would be less restrictive in regular activities.

More about Louise Armaindo:
Born Louise Brisbois in rural Quebec, she began her career in Chicago in the late 1870s performing as a circus trapeze artist and a strongwoman who could lift more than 750 pounds.

She became a pedestrienne – one of an elite group of women endurance walkers who captivated audiences across the U.S. for a brief decade – whetted promoters’ appetites and soon Armaindo was racing the faddish new high-wheel bicycles (or penny farthings to the British) competitively. Initially, Armaindo was considered a spectacle – a sideshow to “compete” against the men – but as word spread, more women entered the sport. And as the popularity of cycling rose, so did the ankle-revealing hemlines.
(from Ann Hall’s “Muscle on Wheels”)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Shows by Grant Simpson:
“The French Cancan: From Paris to the Klondike Goldrush” (1825 – 1920s) Join Grant for this multimedia presentation on the real story of the French Cancan. Celebrate the great pioneers of the dance and the cancan movement.

Greasepaint on the Prairies: The story of Music, Vaudeville and Ragtime Craze on the Prairies. (1850 – 1930) Join Grant as he plays, sings and talks audiences through the history of early theatre in the Prairies, the invasion of Vaudeville and the story of Alexander Pantages and the Pantages Theatre empire.

Lola Montez: Spider Dancer! (1821-1861) The story of the notorious Lola Montez, her epic life as the lover of the Queen of Bavaria, her part in the Bavarian Revolution, her fling with the Czar and her move to Grass Valley, California, where she taught Susan Robinson and Lotta Crabtree her scandalous “Spider Dance”

Klondike Kate: The amazing story of Queen of the Klondike