Tag Archives: milliner

How Miss Miller the Milliner on Bridge Street Turned into a Stanzel Story

How Miss Miller the Milliner on Bridge Street Turned into a Stanzel Story
The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
08 Feb 1900, Thu  •  Page 4

Max Movshovitz’s dry goods store was located in what was known as the
Sumner Building. Morbic Sumner operated a dry goods store also. The Sumner Building at 154-160 Bridge Street is on Lot 25, which is one of the larger lots on Bridge Street. In the 1960’s a large fire occurred and a parking lot took over where some of the businesses had been. So it is unclear based on land deeds if some of the businesses were located in the Sumner Building or at what is now the parking lot.

Dr. Winters was a dentist and his practice was taken over by Dr. Smith an MD. Two Stanzel sisters operated a millinery store where Miss Miller had a stand. William Stanzel, originally of France, settled in Goulbourn and in 1874, William moved his shoe shop from Goulbourn to Carleton Place. William’s son Stephen learned the trade and Ross and Earl later owned Stanzel’s shoes. These two Stanzel gals were William’s daughters .

So after that I began to research trying to find the Stanzel girls I found this terrible accident that fatally wounded Richard Stanzel. He had three sons, but one of his children, Viola P. died at 6 months old. After Richard accidentally passed in 1934 at the age of 61, his wife Elizabeth Ida died 6 years later in 1940 at the age of 64.

Stanzel Genealogy.

Richard Milton Stanzel
1873 – 1934

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
12 Apr 1934, Thu  •  Page 3

Spouse:Elizabeth Ida Saunders
Father:William Stanzel
Mother:Catherine Wright
Children:Viola P.
Birth:05/02/1873 Stittsville Ottawa Ontario Canada
Death:11/04/1934 Ottawa Ottawa Ontario Canada
Residence:1 Jun 1921 Carleton Place Lanark Ontario Canada
The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
29 Oct 1940, Tue  •  Page 16

The Stanzel Shoe Store

The Stanzel Homes of Carleton Place

The Fred Astaire of Carleton Place — John Stanzel

Mad as a Hatter — Wearing Vintage Hats


Alice was an impeccable milliner. She had learned how to make incredible felt for hats with camel hair from her Turkish father. He always insisted the felting process was sped up if the fibers were moistened with camel urine. However in France her co-workers used their own urine, but Alice consistently produced a superior felt and no one had any idea why except her.


Elgin and Area Heritage Society

The young milliner had long been treated for a mercury compound for syphilis, and an association had been made between mercury treatment of the fibers and an improved felt. However the use of solutions of mercuric nitrate became widespread in the felt industry, and mercury poisoning became endemic. Fellow hatmakers also had dementia and  erethism and the records showed it became common ailment among 19th Century hatmakers.



The life of someone who made felt hats would include drooling, trembles, and bouts of severe paranoia, for reasons that only became clear later. Alice herself developed severe and uncontrollable muscular tremors and twitching limbs, called ‘hatter’s shakes’. Distorted vision, confused speech, and advanced cases hallucinations and other psychotic symptoms took the lives of her father and later her aunt. there were no ‘hatty returns” in making a hat it seems in those days.


Arsenic was used in creating the lovely birds that adorned the wide-brimmed hats and some hat makers died young as did some taxidermists. The effects of arsenic poisoning were cumulative and did not kill overnight. In fact, it severely affected motor nerves, vision and even speech, giving the unknowing onlookers the impression the victims were insane. Hence, began the expression, mad hatters. The familiarity of chemical substances having archaic names and terrible toxic powers (such as vitriol and arsenic) made them like Alice–quite mysterious people.



Both in Europe and North America the milliners were the eccentrics and madmen of the clothing trades. On December 1, 1941 the United States Public Health Service banned the use of mercury in the felt industry. Although it has been suggested that the expression ‘mad as a hatter’ and although the character portrayed in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland may have other origins, it seems to have began with mercurialism among hatters similar to the life of Alice.





Thanks to Khatrina Baxter for her information on what was happening to our fair milliners and to her Mum Iris for sharing it. We will be making note of it in the Museum!

RELATED READING– Blowing the Lid of Vintage Hats series


Wearing Vintage Hats– Vintage Hats and Bertha Schwerdtfeger’s Brim…


Wearing Vintage Hats–Blowing the Lid off Katherine Newton


Pour some Feathers on Me


Weird Wendell’s Paperback Writers


Gypsies Tramps and Thieves


What Would You do for a Hat Trick?