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Red River Settlement Quilt

Curated Submission
Winnipeg, Manitoba
1945 - 1946
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
218 x 191
Materials & techniques
Cotton; Quilting, appliquéd
Designed by Sophie-May Osborne
Manitoba Crafts Museum and Library 102.00
This quilt depicts some of the history of Winnipeg and its origins as the Red River Settlement. It was designed by Sophie-May Osborne and sewn by members of the embroidery group of the Crafts Guild of Manitoba during 1945–46. The entire piece was hand-quilted, a task that took 34 women an astonishing 15,000 hours to complete. The detailed quilt gained quite a reputation within the textile world as it toured eastern Canada; it was displayed at the Montreal branch of the Canadian Handicrafts Guild and at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto.
The top panel displays a view of Lower Fort Garry and a York boat, the only means of long-distance travel and trade for the early settlers. The upper left panel shows the Countess of Dufferin, the first steam locomotive in the prairies, which began Canadian service in 1877. Below this is a sod cottage, a simple dirt house built by many prairie settlers.
The two figures on the next panel represent the First Nations already living in the area of the Red River Settlement. Beneath them is the original St. Boniface Cathedral, which was destroyed by fire in 1860. The next panel shows The Pioneer, one of many riverboats that travelled from the United States to Winnipeg in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Beside this is St. Andrews-on-the-Red, the first Anglican church in Manitoba; above are another two figures representing the first settlers who followed Lord Selkirk to the area. The next panels show a typical Red River cottage and two Red River carts, the settlers’ traditional means of transportation. The large central panel represents the settlers’ first winter, as they sheltered with the local Saulteaux and dreamed of their settlement’s future.
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