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Women’s Institute Quilt

Curated Submission
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
264.3 x 20.3
Materials & techniques
White cotton, red thread; Quilted
The Women’s Institute of Niagara
Niagara Historical Society and Museum 972.263
Niagara-on-the-Lake was one of the most active training grounds in Canada for soldiers being sent for service during the First World War. In a town with a long military history, the townspeople were accustomed to the constant influx of soldiers, officers, and dignitaries who visited Niagara-on-the-Lake during this period. Residents of Niagara strongly supported the war effort, and many young men from the town enlisted for service overseas.
Featured here is a signature quilt, which was produced as one of many fundraising activities carried out by the Women’s Institute of Niagara during the First World War. Completed in 1917, the quilt raised $150 for the Red Cross. Cotton squares measuring 8 by 8 inches were sold for $16, and a maximum of 16 people signed their names on each one. Members of the Women’s Institute then sewed over the signatures in red thread. There are 80 squares on the quilt with 69 signatures. Many notables signed the quilt, including Janet Carnochan, Vice-President of the Ontario Historical Society, and Elizabeth Carr Ascher, who was later awarded the Polonia Restituta medal for assisting Polish soldiers who trained at Niagara. Businesses and military units also purchased squares. After the war, the autograph quilt was put on display in the Niagara Historical Museum in recognition of the support from the local community.
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