The tuque… commonly considered to be the national winter hat of Canada, is a knit cap designed to provide warmth in winter and according to some wearers, exhibit year-round style. The tuque (or toque) is typically a hat knit from wool or synthetic fibers, either brimless or having a folded brim, and may be worn as a cap fit tightly to the skull… although purists find that the tuque should be worn loose and pointy atop the head.
Now… about the name. Is it tuque, toque or touque? The answer is… “Yes”
The dictionary provides us with the following definitions:
A warm knitted usually pointed stocking cap
1. A small hat without a brim made in any of various soft close-fitting shapes;
3. A tall brimless hat worn by a chef – also called a toque blanche
1. A kind of warm cap winter wear, usually made from a knit bag with closed tapered ends by pushing one end within the other, thus making a conical cap of double thickness;
So, clearly tuque, toque or touque can be used interchangeably; although today, TUQUE generally refers to knit winter hats while TOQUE is typically used to describe the tall, white, pleated chef’s hat. The third variation TOUQUE, according to our best sources, appears to be an English bastardization of the Canadian-French “tuque”.