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Wall Hanging

Curated Submission
Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
1916 to 1927
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
320 x 264
Materials & techniques
Silk, cotton; Machine-sewn, hand-embroidered
Made by Joanna R. St. Clair
Saskatchewan Western Development Museum WDM-1996-MJ-1
Patriotism and support for the British Empire was top of mind for Montrealer Margaret Polson Murray, who founded the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (IODE) in 1900. The Boer War was raging in South Africa, and Canadians were signing up to support British troops. The IODE was committed to providing aid to soldiers. By 1909 Saskatchewan had IODE chapters in Battleford, North Battleford, Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Regina, and Grenfell.
When war was declared in 1914, IODE women were ready for duty, to raise money and support Canadian soldiers and their families. The number of IODE chapters in Saskatchewan mushroomed to 24 during the war years. After the Great War an outpouring of sentiment led to the creation of memorials dedicated to those who had made the ultimate sacrifice. One such tribute, the Next-of-Kin Memorial Avenue in Saskatoon’s Woodlawn Cemetery, was the brainchild of two IODE members. A tree was planted for each Saskatoon casualty, and a small plaque was inscribed with the soldier’s name.
In Moose Jaw Joanna St. Clair took up needle and thread, designing and stitching a memorial of a different kind, while at the same time raising money for IODE causes. Not a monument of bronze or stone, it is a massive silk wall hanging, decorated with a web of maple leaves. For a small fee, St. Clair embroidered the names of donors on the leaves and stems: she embroidered some 700 names. In the centre St. Clair exquisitely stitched the crests of the IODE and City of Moose Jaw. Between the crests, on a small maple leaf, she embroidered “Nov 11, 1927, presented to the Canadian Legion, Moose Jaw Branch by Moose Jaw Chapter IODE in Commemoration of the Great War, 1914-1918.” With a touch of whimsy, the needle-and-thread artist added her signature to the lower right corner, “Executed by Joanna R. St. Clair as her bit for the IODE .” Her bit took years of painstaking work. St. Clair’s wall hanging endures, as we mark the centenary of the First World War in 2014.
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