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Myrtle Women’s Institute Quilt

Curated Submission
Myrtle, Manitoba
Mid-20th century
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
265 x 217
Materials & techniques
Cotton; Quilting, appliquéd, embroidery
Gift of the Dugald Costume Museum
Manitoba Crafts Museum and Library 1351.00
Susan Buchan, commonly known as Lady Tweedsmuir, was the wife of John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir. Lord Tweedsmuir served as the 15th Governor General of Canada, from 1935 to 1940, and his wife was heavily involved with Women’s Institutes across Canada. In 1945 she established the Tweedsmuir Competitions, three competitions that continue to be held every three years. Any Women’s Institute in the country may submit an entry in the handcrafts, cultural, or history competition. This quilt represents the Myrtle Women’s Institute’s entry in the Tweedsmuir handcrafts category, and it was created collectively by many of the women in the community. While the creation of the quilt was meticulously documented, it is not known whether the Myrtle quilt won the competition.
The women of Myrtle, Manitoba, chose to represent their vision of their community. The central panel is a home, signifying their belief in “home as the hearth and centre of all activities.” Around this they have shown “the four sides affecting our lives”: education, industry, sports, and religion. The town’s four-room schoolhouse signifies education and its function as a social hub. A grain elevator represents the economic heart of the community. The only church in Myrtle, another important gathering place, is shown opposite the elevator. The last of these four sides features the town’s curling and skating rinks, which were financed in large part by the Myrtle Women’s Institute’s fundraising initiatives. Other blocks around this central area represent popular activities in the community: drama, music, baseball, square dancing, curling, skating, and stock farming. A number of local birds are used as decoration alongside the wild rose and crocus, including a robin, woodpecker, oriole, goldfinch, and wild goose. The quilt’s border prominently features wheat, the community’s lifeblood.
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