Crafty Cana­di­ans

Ex­press­ing pride and love of fam­ily through art

Our Canada - - Features - By Bail­lie Borschewski, Flin Flon, Man.

Who would have ever sus­pected a six­foot two-inch, Man­i­toba-grown farm­boy would one day de­velop a love of needle­point and cross- stitch? My grand­fa­ther Bill Borschewski’s early days on the farm in­cluded plant­ing vegeta­bles, look­ing af­ter sib­lings and tend­ing to live­stock.

He even­tu­ally moved north to Flin Flon to work in the cop­per and zinc mine and started a fam­ily of his own. He soon set his hands to a new task and fo­cused on mak­ing his en­tre­pre­neur­ial dreams a re­al­ity, open­ing his own gro­cery store with the vi­sion of a fam­ily-run busi­ness. In 1989, he passed the busi­ness along to his son, and went into semire­tire­ment to fur­ther en­joy life as our “Papa.”

Papa has never been one to sit back and re­lax and in days gone by, you could eas­ily find him hard at work in var­i­ous lo­cales, de­pend­ing upon the sea­son. Dur­ing the sum­mer months, he could be found out at the lake, more specif­i­cally, in his gar­den. Now this wasn’t just any gar­den—it was the envy of the neigh­bor­hood. He grew toma­toes, pota­toes, beets, cab­bage, beans, corn, dill, gar­lic, car­rots and let’s not for­get the rows upon rows of rasp­ber­ries. Papa’s rasp­berry patch has quickly be­come leg­endary and his list of cus­tomers ea­gerly await­ing their de­li­cious four-litre pail of berries gets longer with ev­ery pass­ing year. Pick­ing pails of rasp­ber­ries has quickly be­come a fam­ily af­fair, even our chi­huahua has joined in! In the fall, he would be found with his son, cut­ting and split­ting fire­wood for the long, frigid north­ern win­ters. Once the cabin was win­ter­ized for the year, his curl­ing and needle­point be­gan.

Over the years Papa has slowed down, more no­tice­ably this past year. You can still find him in his gar­den in the sum­mer; only now the gar­den is much smaller, and the or­ders of rasp­ber­ries take twice as long to fill. He still en­joys gath­er­ing fire­wood with my dad but now mostly stacks it in the back of the truck. Curl­ing has come to a stand­still, teams now re­ceive his cheers in place of his skip­ping strate­gies. Al­though the phys­i­cally la­bo­ri­ous ac­tiv­i­ties have slowed, his needle­point artistry is nim­ble and plen­ti­ful.

Needle­point is a form of counted thread em­broi­dery in which yarn is stitched through a stiff open-weave can­vas. Most needle­point de­signs com­pletely cover the can­vas. The roots of needle­point go back thou­sands of years to the an­cient Egyp­tians, who used small, slanted stitches to sew

up their can­vas tents. The fine art of needle­point was an un­ex­pected tran­si­tion from a life­time of work­ing with hands bet­ter suited for fix­ing trac­tors or steel rig­ging in the mine. One would never guess that this del­i­cate, fine stitch­ery was the work of burly, over-sized hands. One by one, del­i­cate flow­ers, ex­quis­ite an­gels and sway­ing wheat fields were brought to life on bar­ren can­vases.

In the spring of 2009, he gath­ered all his pic­tures and put them on dis­play at our lo­cal Ukrainian Ortho­dox church for the com­mu­nity to see. With a to­tal of 12 stun­ningly framed pic­tures to show­case, the crowds were awed by the in­tri­cacy and beauty of his artistry, which has for­ever left a mark on our com­mu­nity.

Each of his needle­points tell a story and rep­re­sent his proud­est ac­com­plish­ments—his fam­ily. Papa has two daugh­ters, a son, seven grand­chil­dren and seven great-grand­chil­dren. When he be­gan needle­point, 15 years ago, he care­fully hand­picked and matched each and ev­ery pat­tern to its even­tual in­her­i­tor. He now has 24 pieces, mat­ted and framed, more than enough to give one to ev­ery­one. His ex­quis­ite cre­ations, ev­ery­thing from an­gels and brides to fa­mil­iar rolling land­scapes, can be found proudly dis­played in fam­ily mem­bers’ homes from Man­i­toba to British Columbia.

If you’re look­ing for Papa these days, you don’t have to look very far. He’s at home, in the back bed­room, work­ing tire­lessly on his needle­point. Just fol­low the thun­der­ous Ukrainian mu­sic and you will find him seated in front of his can­vas with a look of pure en­joy­ment. At the age of 87, he was re­cently di­ag­nosed with cataracts in both eyes. Other than hav­ing to un­dergo surgery on his eyes, he is in ex­cel­lent health.

As the last stitch slips gen­tly into his lat­est work of art, “White Lace,” he casts an ea­ger eye to the loom on his left. There, his next in­spi­ra­tion, “An­gel of Heal­ing,” pa­tiently awaits his nee­dle and thread. When all is said and done, his love of fam­ily and his pride in his chil­dren, grand­chil­dren and great-grand­chil­dren will for­ever be re­flected in his lov­ingly cre­ated art. n

Clock­wise from above: “English Gar­dens” fills the room with bril­liant blooms all year; “Au­gust Har­vest” brings back fond mem­o­ries of Papa’s time on the farm; “An­gel of Heal­ing“is the most re­cent piece to grace Papa’s loom; “An­gel of Hope” is one of his...

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