Textiles at Upper Canada Village contributed by Margot Dixon PDF  | Print |  E-mail

 Aerial of mills & entrance at Upper Canada Village.JPG

 Upper Canada Village is an award-winning living history museum on the banks of the St. Lawrence River between Morrisburg and Cornwall Ontario.  With more than 30 buildings spread across a 62 acre site, staffed by costumed interpreters, the Village gives visitors a step back to 1860’s life in Canada.  Textiles are an important part of the presentation, from reproduction costuming in documented styles, fabrics and patterns to the use of fibre on site.

The first weekend in June will start with 'the running of the sheep' as staff and visitors shepherd our flock from their pasture, down the main street of the village to Loucks’ farm where they will be shorn with hand shears in true 1860's fashion.



  In their new light weight summer style they will move again out to pasture for the season.  Mr. Loucks’ will use one of his farm wagons to transport the fleece to Asselstine's Woollen Mill where it will be washed, picked, carded, dyed and spun, then woven into blankets for sale to visitors in the newly renovated UCV store. 

 Asselstine Mill blanket.jpg

  Some villagers will use the yarn in knitting projects, while some of the roving will go to the McDiarmid House to be spun and woven in a demonstration of the continuing importance of these craft skills in maintaining an 1860's home.  In the past years McDiarmids have often challenged the Asselstines: which location can truly claim to have the most production?  The mill spins faster, but is often shut down due to machine repair or humid weather, Mrs McDiarmid claims more consistency and has great faith in her natural dyes to create a perfect product.


Other ladies in the Village are happy to skip some of the time consuming chore of processing the fleece and will choose to take yarn from the mill, useful in knitting warm garments for their family.

Wool is not the only fibre in evidence in the Village.  While the everyday wear will usually be cotton, the Costume Department also provides a number of garments in linen, and a summer bride will no doubt be wearing her best silk gown on her wedding day.  

wedding 2.jpg

 The Dressmaker is aware of all the latest Parisian fashion and encourages some of her clients to look to a store in a larger centre to purchase some fine alpaca fabric for a new best dress.  Not that there is a lack of fabric choice at Mr. Crysler's store; with all the combinations of textures, patterns and colours, there is really no reason for ladies to  be seen in the same dress as their neighbour!

This year Upper Canada Village will be celebrating 'all things fibre' on June 16/17, a weekend  combining our annual quilt show with a newly established fantastic fibres exhibition.  Programming includes local quilt guilds displaying their finest work, a special display of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail quilts commemorating the War of 1812 and featuring the Viewers Choice winner created by the ladies of UCV, and a quilting bee at the Ross House.

 The quilters will be joined with the 'fantastic fibre' folk – lace makers, rug hookers. spinners, weavers. 

To celebrate, a new feature is being added: 'knit-a-bit'.  Knitters of all ages and skill levels are invited to participate in a timed competition to produce a length of plain knitting.  On either Saturday or Sunday, knitters can visit the Fibre Artists display area at Loucks’ Farm, sign up and compete to ‘Knit-a-Bit’: Using Eng/US Size 7 [metric 4.5] needles, participants will cast on 15 stitches and knit for 15 minutes, plain garter stitch. Entries will be judged at the end of the weekend (4:00 pm Sunday June 17), based on length of swatch and evenness of tension.


All Images provided by Upper Canada Village and Used with permission  

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