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Immigration Quilt

Curated Submission
Township of East Nissouri, Ontario, Canada
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
200 x 180
Materials & techniques
Cotton; Plain woven, printed, appliquéd, embroidered, quilted, hand-sewn
Gift of Nora Jones from the family of Jean Hones (née Moore)
Textile Museum of Canada T2011.11.1
When Christena and John Mackay were forced by their landlord from their farm in Lairg, Sutherlandshire in Scotland in 1830, they crossed the Atlantic and settled in East Nissouri near Ingersoll, Ontario. Canada became home for them and their offspring; when the couple died in the 1860s, they left behind 80 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.
This quilt was made by a direct descendant of the Mackay’s second daughter, Betsy. It tells the story of the family’s journey on the ship Cleopatra from Cromarty in Scotland to Quebec City. According to family records, they were at sea for 13 weeks and three days. Sailing ships, women and children waving goodbye, a dog, and a tartan-clad piper are depicted in appliqué and embroidery. There is much detail in the ships’ rigging, people’s clothing, and women’s hair carefully curled from tightly twisted threads. Fruit and flower garlands in the border are probably meant to represent the abundance of the Mackay’s new homeland.
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