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Mary Schäffer’s Album Quilt

Public Submission
Philadelphia, United States and Banff, Alberta
Materials & techniques
High-quality chintz, ink, unbleached cotton; Quilted, appliqué, writing, woven, printed
Members of the Dr. Charles Schäffer family and Potts family, including Selena McCarley
Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies 102.01.0003
This quilt reflects the strong sense of community and love of nature held by Mary Schäffer Warren (1861-1939), a prominent historical figure in Banff. Mary and her husband, botanist Dr. Charles Schäffer, were Philadelphia Quakers who had become enchanted with Banff’s natural wonders. The name “Album Quilt” originates in the Quaker tradition, where each quilted block is signed by a family member. In this case, members of the Schäffer family have handwritten their names in ink amid ornately appliquéd flowers, birds, and insects. The level of detail and vivid colour used in such appliqués were not only appreciated by the Schäffers on an aesthetic level, but undoubtedly also cherished for their reference to the natural world, an environment they loved.

When Charles passed away in 1915, Mary moved to Banff permanently, further pursuing her passion for exploring, painting, photography, speaking about, and writing about the Rocky Mountains. In 1943, another well-known Banff couple, Lieutenant-Colonel Philip Augustus and Pearl Evelyn Brewster Moore, purchased the quilt and associated bed. The quilt was donated to The Whyte Museum, then called the Wa-Che-Yo-Cha-Pa Foundation in 1971. For more information on Mary Schäffer’s life please read: "A Hunter of Peace."
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