Smithbilt’s founder, Morris Schumiatcher, was only 18 in 1910 when he convinced his father to move their large family to Canada from Russia. Taking the way around language barrier, they were renamed Smith.
Eight years later after doing research on a business to open, Morris Schumiatcher ‘Smith’ went to his local bank, borrowed 300 dollars to buy Calgary Hat Works and Smithbilt Hats was born.
Smithbilt concentrated on the local market and soon gained a reputation as the best hat maker around.
At first Smithbilt produced mostly dress hats with small brims, styles that flourished in the East and in Europe. In 1926, however Morris began a co-operative effort with local businessmen and the Stampede Board to promote western wear for spectators as well as partisans in the Calgary Stampede. The Stampede was providing a focus for local manufacturers who responded by developing products of western style.
Increasingly, Smithbilt made Western hats a specialty, and in 1946 Morris created the first white cowboy hat. He was very proud of the White Smithbilt, and indeed this small contribution to the Canadian identity became a symbol of the Stampede and of Calgary. The White Smithbilt, proudly worn by local officials, was traditionally presented to visiting dignitaries and Royal guests. It is now known throughout North America and the rest of the world.
As the years passed, the company continued to improve its products and reputation. The company’s ownership passed to Morris’s son Judah and then on to the long-term employee Marshall Harvey. In 2003, the Harvey family passed the Smithbilt torch to a family friend.
Today, the company is owned & operated Calgary area businessmen, whom are associated with Calgary Stampede. Dedicated to the preservation of western heritage values and traditions they are committed to moving the legendary Smithbilt name forward with an emphasis on quality and service.
There is a great amount of pride in being part of the icon that has come to symbolize the traditions and hospitality of Calgary and all over the world…The Smithbilt “White Hat”.