Quilt Stories, Part V; Our Quilting Conclusion…

The final stories I want to tell through quilts are the stories of the Henry’s quilts.  The Henry’s are one of the families that are closely associated with the Oshawa Community Museum.  Their family home (built c. 1840) is still standing in Oshawa’s Lakeview Park, and it is one of the three historic houses that make up our museum.

Henry House, Oshawa
Henry House, Oshawa

The Henry Family lived in this home from the time it was built through to the turn of the century.  The family’s patriarch was Thomas Henry, a farmer, minister in the Christian Church, and a harbourmaster for a number of years.  With his first wife Elizabeth, he had a daughter (Nancy, who died in infancy), and five sons: John, William, George, Thomas Simon, and Ebenezer.  After Elizabeth died, Thomas married Lurenda Abbey, and they had a total of 10 children: Eliza, James, Phineas, Albert, Elizabeth, Joseph, Jesse, Clarissa, William, and Lurenda Jane (Jennie).

Thomas, left, and Lurenda, right
Thomas, left, and Lurenda, right

The Oshawa Community Museum has many cherished artifacts which once belonged to members of the Henry Family; some are on display in Henry House while others are in storage for safe keeping.  Some of these artifacts are textiles and quilts.

973.13.2 - Victorian Crazy Quilt
973.13.2 – Victorian Crazy Quilt

This Victorian crazy quilt was once owned by Mary Myrtle Ellis (nee Henry).  Mary’s father was Albert Henry, and her mother was Harriett Guy.  Harriett died while Myrtle was young, and for a time in the 1870s, Myrtle and her sister Alberta lived in the family’s stone house with their grandparents Thomas and Lurenda.  Many of the patches on this beautiful quilt feature floral patterns.  On the left side of the quilt, second patchwork square from the top, there is a blue patch which has been embroidered with the words “Flora 1889.” The middle right, top square has a patch which features the wording: “Tammany Hall, Toronto, Granite Island Camp, Thousand Islands – 1887”.  This quilt was on display for some time in the Henry House bedroom, however, the bottom of the quilt is now rather frayed and delicate, and it is now safely in storage.

973.13.3 - Tied cotton quilt
973.13.3 – Tied cotton quilt

This quilt has the same provenance, belonging to Myrtle Henry.  In one corner, embroidered in red, are the initials MH.

70-L-136 - Woven wool blanket
70-L-136 – Woven wool blanket

While not a ‘quilt,’ there is an interesting story behind this blanket.  As the story goes, the wool for this blanket was prepared by Lurenda Henry herself.  The wool was then sent away and was professionally woven into this blanket.  There is a blue piece of fabric which has been attached to the top to allow the blanket to hang.

For more stories from the Oshawa Community Museum’s quilt collection, be sure to check out our newest exhibit for the summer: Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt Collection!  Opening in June 2013!

Co-op Student’s Thoughts

HI, my name is Caitlan and I am a co-op student here. I’m in grade 12 and I plan on going to university in September for Social Media. When we had to start applying to universities I had no idea what I wanted to take and how should I know, I’m only 17 and I wanted to make sure the program I was going to take, I would enjoy. After all I would be stuck in it for a year and A LOT of money is involved! I started to research different programs and the only one that stood out for me was Social Media (which is radio, television/film, journalism etc.) So I decided to do co-op that would have, to some degree, of what I would be doing in university, just so I know money is not going to waste. That is how I found my way here.

Although I never thought of myself has a person really interested about history especially since my brother is a history buff and is getting a degree in history. So naturally, many people thought it was strange to do co-op at a museum. But I have found my co-op experience here is going really well and enjoyable. I have learned quite a bit about Oshawa’s past, and many things that actually surprised me or I found amusing. So what exactly have I been doing here? Well, when I first started I researched a lot about Oshawa’s railway, which is one thing I never even knew Oshawa had. I started to create tweets about the railway to help create awareness about the Railway exhibit (opening May 1st) which started to go out on the first of April. I was able to create 31 tweets, one for each day of April and one for May 1st. I also created two different posters for the Railway Exhibit and the poster for the Summer Lecture & Tour Series which starts June 5th. Since then I have been getting ready the ‘Month that was’ and so far that is one of my favourite things to do here! The reason is some of the things that people thought was news or even just the way that wrote was very opinionated and if some of the things that were printed back then was put in a newspaper today, let’s just say someone would be getting fired or in quite a bit of trouble. Even the advertisements in the papers and comics are written completely different (for example an ad. for a colouring contest, the grand prize winner would receive a pony!). In addition to that, I have also been helping Lisa photograph artifacts over in Henry House and I can now say I officially know how to correctly number an artifact! I have seen some really cool artifacts, some of which I think should have stayed around today and some creepy artifacts but I will not go there!

For the next 3 months I hope to complete a few short videos, a press release for the Downtown Walking Tour and a few more blogs, as well as continuing to photograph artifacts and more of the ‘Month that was’. Overall I am really happy I have co-op here! I know that I will enjoy my program starting in September and I cannot believe I get to start my days off in a new and interesting way, every day with a wonderful and friendly group of people!

As I said above I have been taking some photograph’s and I thought I would share a couple with you! …

This is  a shot form the Henry House desk!
This is a shot form the Henry House desk!

 

Love the pattern of the Henry House Couch!
Love the pattern of the Henry House Couch!

 

 

This picture does not do the these shoes justice! They are actually really tiny!
This picture does not do the these shoes justice! They are actually really tiny!

 

 

Quilt Stories, Part III

This quilt story has a special meaning to me because I found my own family history on this quilt!

990.21.1 - South Oshawa Methodist Church Autograph Quilt, c. 1914
990.21.1 – South Oshawa Methodist Church Autograph Quilt, c. 1914

First, about the quilt.  This autograph quilt features over 200 names embroidered on it.  It was made c. 1914 as a fundraiser for the South Oshawa Methodist Church.  The church later went by the name Albert Street Methodist (United) Church.  For a dime, a name could be embroidered on the quilt.

In the centre of the quilt is an embroidered picture of the South Oshawa Methodist Church, and the quilt is red and cream in colour.  The quilt has been completed with the hourglass or broken dish pattern.

The original Albert Street United Church, from the Ontario Reformer, June 30, 1927
The original Albert Street United Church, from the Ontario Reformer, June 30, 1927

The church was established in 1910, operating as the South Oshawa Mission of the Methodist Church.  A small, white building was erected for this new mission in 1914, and it served the congregation until 1928 when a new building was erected at the southwest corner of Albert Street and Olive Avenue.  This building is still standing, however the Albert Street United Church closed in 1996, amalgamating with the Centennial United Church to become the Centennial-Albert United Church.  This church was described by Rev. Pogue as “a typical working class church, very family oriented, that’s what made it really strong.”

990.21.1 - Detail of quilt showing the name of Mr. G. Trainer
990.21.1 – Detail of quilt showing the name of Mr. G. Trainer

As I mentioned, names were embroidered on the quilt for 10 cents.  One of the names embroidered near the top is ‘Mr. G. Trainer.’  My grandfather was married twice; his second wife, my beloved Grandma, was born and raised in Oshawa, around St. Lawrence Street.  Her father, George Trainer, was a local barber.  He also supported the South Oshawa Methodist Church in 1914 as his name was found on this autograph quilt!  I never expected to find a little touch of my family on any of the quilts in the Oshawa Community Museum Collection, and I was quite surprised when I found this name among hundreds others.

George Trainer, a local barber in Oshawa
George Trainer, a local barber in Oshawa

‘Lest we forget – the quilters!  God bless them! They sew and sew and sew some more to fill orders for beautiful quilts.  They also raise a lot of money thereby!” – Memories of Albert Street United Church, 1990, Oshawa Community Archives.

Quilt Stories, pt.1

In early 2013, our museum was thrilled to learn that we received a Museum and Technology Fund Grant which would go towards digitizing Henry House.  In anticipation of our summer exhibit Common Threads: Stories from our Quilt Collection, the first artefacts to be cataloged, photographed, and digitized were our quilts!  The museum has over 75 quilts in the collection, and photographing these large artefacts has proven to be quite the challenge.

The first step was finding space to photograph the artefacts, and the upper floor of Henry House, which is off limits to the public and therefore limited traffic, proved to be an ideal space.  The entire floor area in one room, with grey photographer’s paper laying against the carpet, became the photographic studio.

The upstairs of Henry House, with our quilt photography studio set up
The upstairs of Henry House, with our quilt photography studio set up

The next challenge we needed to face was how we were going to get the picture we wanted!  Before undertaking this project, we researched how other sites photographed their large textiles, and we had a clear idea of what we liked and what we didn’t like.  Photographing our own quilts at first was a trial and error process, seeing what worked, what didn’t, and what technique got us the image we were looking for.

What technique worked for our quilts?  A camera, on a tripod, on top of a ladder.  It sounds elaborate, but we were happy with how the images were turning out.

Our set-up for photographing large quilts.
Our set-up for photographing large quilts.

We’re also trying our best to ensure we capture the whole quilt, as well as an image with the back, because quite often the fabrics on the back are quite detailed.

971.1.5_1
The front of a ‘log cabin’ patterned quilt
A 'log cabin' quilt, with the back fabric showing
A ‘log cabin’ quilt, with the back fabric showing

In the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing posts about the quilts in our collection, the patterns used, and the stories that are associated with the quilt.  This was simply the story behind the story.  Please be sure to check back often!