Friday, 26 February 2016

Creative Legacy

I`m the family historian in my family - for both sides. I`ve always been interested in my family history and would pester my grandparents for information. I`ve been researching my family history for about 15 years now and have done very well. My Mom`s side has gone much better than my Dad`s - for a variety of reasons, but that mostly involve more accurate records in Germany.

About a year ago or so I discovered, through the research of someone else, that my great great great grandmother, Maria Beck Warning, had made hooked rugs that the Textile Museum of Canada acquired at some time. I tried to see them when I located them, but the museum doesn`t allow the public access, unless they are on display.

On Feb 7, I went with my parents to see the rugs. On the 6th, I happened to look on the museum`s website, for something else someone told me about, when I stumbled on the fact that there was a hooked rug display on, which closed Feb 8th. One quick call to the museum, and a very helpful volunteer, and I knew that two of Maria`s rugs were on display.

The display was called Home Economics and the rugs were from various places in Canada. Maria`s rug are special in that they are dated (during the 1880s) and they can be attributed to a particular maker. Most rugs didn`t last long because they were made of used materials (clothing) and were used under foot, so they wore out.

These are Maria`s rugs:

The rabbits are dated 1884 and the swan 1885. Both rugs have some wear, so they were used. That`s about all I know about them. One of her daughter`s did marry about this time, but the marriage didn`t work out, so I wonder if they were made for her, then put away later, and that`s why they survived.

It was a thrill to see them - it felt like I can place some of my creative talents on another ancestor. Both my Grandmother`s made things so I see their talents in me, and it was nice to see it farther back.

This is Maria, with her husband. Maria was born 1832 in Germany and died in 1918 in Canada. She came to Canada sometime in the 1850s and married here. She was a Mennonite and lived in Perth county where she farmed with her husband.

Here are some other photos from the exhibit. Some rugs were very primitive, drawn by the maker, and some were very artistic (they may have been drawn by the maker or purchased). At one time, Eaton`s catalogue sold patterns for them.

This art almost died off. At one time, everyone had these rugs in their home, then along came factory made carpet and linoleum, and the need for these to warm the floors wasn`t a big. Hooked rugs were also seen as a sign of poverty and mother`s wouldn`t teach their daughters how to do it and forbid the making of them.

There are now some hooked rug guilds - I might try one. I met some women at the exhibit younger than me who are rug hookers and they were very encouraging. Luckily for us, people like the Textile Museum of Canada saw the need to preserve this artwork so that we can still enjoy it.