Writing about a politician at this election time in 2021 might cause you to think that I’m about to make some major political confession relating to my political thinking. Mr. Robert Stanfield was the leader of the PC Party of Canada from 1967-1976 and the leader of the Opposition when Pierre was Prime Minister. He was sometimes referred to as “the best Prime Minister Canada never had”.
However, I’m not going to do any such thing. What I am going to rant on about is men’s underwear.
For you younger folk who know nothing about Robert, I will tell you that he was a gentleman politician and generally a class act. Unfortunately, he wasn’t aggressive enough in the eyes of his party and that led to him resigning his leadership position in 1976.
More importantly to me, he also was a senior member of the Stanfield family of Nova Scotia—the family that created and owned the Stanfield Clothing Company.
As a boy, then a teenager, I was outfitted by my mom and dad. Dad was a devotee of Stanfield underwear so I ended up with the same. I didn’t realise how that would spoil me in later years as I moved through life.
I understand that I have a common trait of many men and that is to wear my underwear until it is just about threadbare. The consequence of that is that my stock of Stanfield underwear that I had when I finished University in 1966 lasted me for at least another three to four years, through my time in England and my early engineering work years in Calgary and Vancouver. Sometime after that I started to find it very difficult to find Stanfield underwear and finally had to resort to some other brands of much thinner construction and a fitting that probably required me to lose an inch off my rear end and exchange some other parts of me that were not happy hanging about in such a constrained space.
There was an emotional moment for me when my old Stanfield briefs gradually wore to nothing and had to be thrown out. I then entered the world of also-rans underwear with names such as Jockey and Marks (Work Wearhouse). Reading the labels of these confirmed that they all came out of some clothing factory in China. After wearing them it was clear to me that men in China are built differently from me.
The ultimate period of discomfort came when Les and I went on one of our longer trips to the States. I woke up on the first morning in Helena Montana to find that I had forgotten to pack any underwear. I had no choice but to buy a package of Jockey shorts, thinking that such a well known trade name would be indicative of good underwear. Let me tell you, they didn’t stand up to the physical attributes of my old Stanfields. All you men will understand when I say that during that trip, where I spent many days ‘hanging about’ in very hot weather, I was not comfortable.
Run the calendar forward a few years and imagine my surprise when I came across a whole display rack of Stanfield underwear in that American-based warehouse giant, Costco. I could hardly contain myself and stocked up on several packages. I came home and immediately threw out all of my still intact but useless underwear of all those other brands. As I slipped on my new Stanfields I felt like I was coming home. Their fit and my comfort was just like old times. It seems they haven’t changed their design and the label still says, ‘MADE IN CANADA’.
So ‘all of me’ is quite happy now — one less stressor in my life. What a relief.
Thank you, Robert Stanfield. Thank you for your family’s company and an uncompromising approach to the standards of your clothing. You have been gone a long time, but your clothing lives on. In my case, at least for five years at a time.
Now, if I could just find a place that sells those excellent Stanfields T-shirts……..