General TPL Talks and Programs

Library Map Pass Keeps on Giving!

Last year I visited the Textile Museum of Canada courtesy of a library Map Pass. I enjoyed the experience so much that I returned last week just in time to see Dreamland: Textiles and the Canadian Landscape before the exhibit ended.

Signature Quilt, New Brunswick 1875-1900

Fascinating art and artifacts populated Dreamland in every direction, almost overwhelming me with visual delight. I loved the hooked rugs holding memories of the lost farm of a New Brunswick couple (“The Gagetown Hookers”) and the remarkable examples of ordinary nineteenth-century clothing.

Lydia and Raymond Scott
New Brunswick
Mid to late 20th Century
Lydia and Raymond Scott, New Brunswick, mid to late 20th century
Man’s Shirt, Quebec, 1870-1890’s (wool, hand-spun, hand-woven)
Child’s Shirt, Ontario, Mid 19th Century

The quilts and samplers reminded me of my grandmother Raine, a beautiful textile artist who knitted a pink poncho with pearl buttons for my Barbie and sewed doll clothes for Her Barbiness, too. Grandma’s favorite quilt pattern was log-cabin, a very disciplined form, so I wonder what she would have made of the crazy quilt I saw in permanent exhibit one floor below.

Crazy Quilt, Ontario, c. 1890
Crazy Quilt, Ontario, c. 1890
Crazy Quilt, Ontario, c. 1890

Even before I knew it was the work of a loving Canadian grandmother, I was drawn to a display of a doll’s complete Red River winter outfit. I also learned from the explanatory text that Anna McLeod Gilmor “would make a doll’s dress as a Christmas present for Margaret (her granddaughter).” She did this “each Christmas from 1945-1950.” Decades later, Margaret Johnson donated these doll clothes to the Textile Museum of Canada.

Doll’s Red River Outfit, Anna McLeod Gilmor, Toronto 1945-1950

In addition to the poignant textile legacy of an awesome grandmother, the exhibit that affected the most strongly was Michael Snow’s “Solar Breath/Northern Caryatids.” Snow’s cinematic illusion of a window in a house off the coast of Newfoundland was so effective that I thought it was real.

Michael Snow, “Solar Breath/Northern Caryatids,” 2002 (62 minutes)

The sound of the wind pulled me into the darkened viewing room and I was hooked. Although chairs were available, I settled down on the carpet to better surrender to the meditative peace of a film in which the star actor was the wind flapping the curtains, offering brief revelatory glimpses of a woodpile, solar panel, trees, and the Atlantic Ocean

Michael Snow, “Solar Breath/Northern Caryatids,” 2002

TPL and Map Pass, thank you for giving me the opportunity to experience Solar Breath, marvel at quilts, sashes, long underwear, dresses, rawhide stuffed animals, and a camel cover from Turkemenistan!

Coverlet, John Campbell, Ontario, c. 1880


Coverlet, John Campbell, Ontario, c. 1880 

Quilt, New Brunswick, late 19th century (cotton)
Quebec, 19th century (wool, finger woven)
Man’s Long Underwear, Quebec, 1870-1890’s
Girls’s Dress, Quebec, 1870-1890 (indigo blue top)
John Henry Fine Day, “Rez Dog in Flight,” 2006
John Henry Fine Day, “Rabbit,” 2006
Camel Cover, Turkmenistan, early 20th century (red wool probably recycled from Russian army uniforms)


2 replies on “Library Map Pass Keeps on Giving!”

Oh, me too. We might even have passed each other at the exhibit, since I also went there on a library pass just before it closed. I loved everything, especially the Grenfell Mission hooked rugs.

Thanks for the pictures.

I’m so glad to hear from a fellow textile museum and Map pass fan. It’s lucky we got to see the exhibit before it left!

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