Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell has a secret hobby
Paul Bliss, CTV News Toronto
Published Monday, August 21, 2017 6:03PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, August 21, 2017 7:16PM EDT
Here’s something you may not know about Ontario’s lieutenant governor – Elizabeth Dowdeswell moonlights as a seamstress.
In fact, Dowdeswell makes all her own clothes.
The eldest of eight children learned to sew while growing up in the prairies. She sewed her first project -- a pot holder -- when she was 10 years old and she told CTV News Toronto that now, she makes just about every outfit she wears.
When she was young, she used her skills to make extra pocket money.
"You're not just sewing on a machine, you're shaping with your hands," she said. "For me, it's really exercising the creating side of my brain."
Dowdeswell has travelled all over the world and has made it a point to collect vibrant fabrics to work with. Once she loved a blanket so much, she bought it and turned it into a dress.
“It’s a very sensual activity, working with fabric,” she added. “I love the softness of cashmere, I love the extravagance of silk, I love the crispness of line.”
At first, Dowdeswell was shy about opening up about her secret talent, wanting to ensure her words and actions are in keeping with the dignity of the Crown.
But humanizing the position of lieutenant governor has become one of her priorities.
"Part of what I want to do in my term is extend the constituency, to see that there are real human beings," she said. "I don't think I've done an interview like this. This is a first, so don't get me in trouble."
So far, she has attended nearly 1,100 engagements – more than 700 a year -- since taking office.
And now, sewing has become more than just a hobby, she said.
“Hand sewing like that is really quite therapeutic, it’s wonderful ,” she said. “It’s why I still try to find a couple of hours on Satuday mornings to sew .. because it just takes me into another world.”
She said she always puts thought into what she makes so that it appropriately represents the occasion, whether it be ameeting with a prince, the queen, veterans or children.
“Most of the events I go to require a jacket of some kind,” she said, adding that black leather often makes its way into her style.
Over the years, Dowdeswell has made hundreds of outfits, including her sister-in-law’s wedding dress.
And as for those outfits she has outgrown, Dowdeswell says she donates frequently to Goodwill.