The Oshawa Community Museum has roughly 50-70 quilts in the collection, and as of today, March 11, there are less than 10 that need to be photographed and catalogued! This month long project is coming to a close. It isn’t until the quilts are carefully unwrapped and unfolded that their stories are able to be fully told. For some quilts, unfortunately, we have little information about them. They are beautifully pieced together, with a great amount of care and attention, but little information was available when they were donated to the site. Other quilts, well, they tell stories all of their own.
There are some quilts in our collection with their history literally recorded on them. These are our signature quilts which are simply fascinating to look at. They are quite a bit of work to catalogue because every name on the quilt gets written down and recorded. Some quilts have 40-50 names embroidered on them, and there was another example which had over 200 names! This one quilt has an interesting story that I’ll share another day.
There are two quilts in our collection which are ‘mates.’ The first was donated in the 1960s and the second was donated in the late 1970s. They feature a ‘Friendship Block’ pattern, with names embroidered in red in the centre. Many names repeat on both quilts. When the second quilt was donated in 1979, the donor included a history of the quilts, as follows:
May Douglas Keddie and our mother May Farewell (Mrs Everson) were very close chums as girls and they each made an autograph quilt which their mothers Mrs Keddie and Mrs AW Farewell quilted for them in 1885. Before she died my mother gave me hers and later she gave me May Keddie’s – which Jean Keddie had given her after May Keddie died. Some years later mother agreed that Helen should have her aunt’s [May Keddie’s] quilt. She was very happy to have it but later I saw in the paper that she has presented it to the Oshawa museum. I have talked to my daughters and to my sisters and the agree with me that our mother’s quilt be put in the museum in Oshawa and that we ask you to but the two quilts near together.
Both quilts are now photographed, catalogued, and are stored right beside each other.