Cel­e­brat­ing Canada’s sesqui­cen­ten­nial

Rug hook­ers cre­ate spe­cial rug for Canada’s 150th an­niver­sary

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY JEREMY FRASER

Mary Mun­son still re­mem­bers Canada’s cen­ten­nial cel­e­bra­tion in 1967.

“I re­mem­ber it very well,” said Mun­son. “It was a thrill to be part of it.”

Mun­son is the pres­i­dent of the Down East Rug Hook­ers, a group of 40 peo­ple who cre­ate rugs by pulling loops of yarn or fab­ric through a stiff wo­ven base such as burlap, linen, or rug wrap.

As part of Canada’s 150 an­niver­sary in 2017, the group has cre­ated a spe­cial rug to com­mem­o­rate the an­niver­sary. The group will be do­nat­ing the rug to the Old Syd­ney So­ci­ety for its new mu­seum on Char­lotte Street in Syd­ney, where the rug is ex­pected to hang in the lobby.

The group made a com­mit­ment to the pro­ject last fall. The de­sign work be­gan in Novem­ber while work on the rug started in Jan­uary.

The rug features 14 cas­cad­ing red maple leafs as well as the sesqui­cen­ten­nial logo, bet­ter known as the Canada 150 logo, at the bot­tom, and the word Canada, copied from an old $1 bill. “I thought it would be good for us

to re­ally cel­e­brate the 150 an­niver­sary,” said Mun­son. “We also thought it would be good to help the Old Syd­ney So­ci­ety as they move to a new build­ing, so that’s why they were cho­sen — it’s part of their his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety, so this makes per­fect sense to cel­e­brate Canada this way.”

Mun­son has en­cour­aged all mem­bers to help with the rug in some way. As of now, 25 mem­bers have worked on the pro­ject.

“I think it’s im­por­tant to ev­ery­one

in the group,” said Mun­son. “It’s amaz­ing that our coun­try is 150 years old. We want to cel­e­brate our na­tion and this is our way of do­ing that.”

It’s un­known for sure when rug hook­ing was in­vented, but many be­lieve the art was de­vel­oped in North Amer­ica, specif­i­cally along the east­ern seaboard in New Eng­land, the Mar­itimes, and New­found­land and Labrador.

In early years, rug hook­ing was a craft of poverty. The vogue for floor cov­er­ings in the United States be­gan af­ter 1830 when fac­to­ries pro­duced ma­chine-made car­pets for the rich. Mean­while, poor women started look­ing through scrap bags for ma­te­ri­als to cre­ate their own home­made floor cov­er­ings.

Rita Wo­j­ty­niak, who cre­ated the de­sign for the rug with Betty Paruch, said it only made sense to make a rug for the spe­cial cel­e­bra­tion.

“Mary and I went to a show that was trav­el­ling across Canada and it was of all dif­fer­ent rugs — there were some in­ter­est­ing rugs, some 200 years old,” she said. “We were think­ing of our fu­ture, 200 years from now our rug will still be hang­ing in the mu­seum, so it’s kind of giv­ing us recognition, but also it’s such an old and es­tab­lished tra­di­tion and it’s great to con­trib­ute.”

The do­na­tion to the Old Syd­ney So­ci­ety isn’t the first time the Down East Rug Hook­ers have made a spe­cial rug. In 2013, the group made a rug with 19 shoes and boots and pre­sented it to the Red Shoe Pub in Mabou.

The group has de­vel­oped a rep­u­ta­tion over the years for con­tribut­ing to the Cape Bre­ton com­mu­nity at large.

Aside from fi­nan­cial do­na­tions to the Ev­ery Woman’s Cen­tre, vic­tims of the Thanks­giv­ing Day flood, and the Red Cross for those af­fected by the Fort McMur­rary fire, the group has also helped chil­dren at the Whit­ney Pier Youth Club learn rug hook­ing.

“I think mak­ing do­na­tions of any kind to the com­mu­nity is fan­tas­tic, it builds con­nec­tions, it builds com­mu­ni­ties and it shows peo­ple are car­ing and think­ing about where we live and what we are cel­e­brat­ing here in Canada.” said Mun­son.

The group is still work­ing on the pro­ject. Right now, they are work­ing on the back­ground of the rug and are hop­ing to be able to rep­re­sent it to the Old

Syd­ney So­ci­ety at the end of June, prior to Canada Day on July 1.

The Down East Rug Hook­ers are at the Cen­tre for Craft and De­sign in Syd­ney each Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Any­one want­ing to join the group is asked to stop by each Wednesday or phone Mun­son at 902-567-5122 or email mmun­son@ns.sym­pa­tico.ca.


Mem­bers of the Down East Rug Hook­ers are pic­tured hold­ing a rug they cre­ated for Canada’s 150th an­niver­sary. The rug will be do­nated to the Old Syd­ney So­ci­ety for its new mu­seum on Char­lotte Street in Syd­ney. From left, Mary Mun­son, Rita Wo­j­ty­niak, Betty Paruch and Diane Har­ris.

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