Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Why I Moved to the Country: Reason #70

No matter where I have lived, there has never been a time when I didn't take an interest in learning about the local history. A whole new set of challenges crop up, however, when you're trying to learn about the history of a rural area. There are fewer books, photographs or museum exhibits testifying to rural life. To date, our best resource has been word of mouth from long time residents, which is pretty much everyone except us. We have yet to determine who the original occupants of the old farmhouse were but I'm itching to find out. It will likely require a visit to the city records office and we have that on our list for fun times during our summer holidays. Exploring our local heritage is a wonderful way to become part of our local comunity and is a fun summer activity while we very patiently wait for harvest time to roll around.

In the meantime, I've been browsing these books the Artist stumbled upon at our local library branch. It seems our nearby village was a bustling community at the turn of the previous century. During the 1860s, the same time the old farmhouse was constructed, the village was home to 67 dwellings, 7 stores, 1 tavern, 1 cooper shop, 4 blacksmith shops, 2 wagon shops, 1 bakery, 3 tailor and millinery shops, 2 saddle and harness shops, 3 saw mills, 1 grist mill, 3 shoe shops, 1 woolen factory, 1 pottery, 1 oil refinery, 1 school and 2 churches. Today, there is the library, the post office, a variety store, a feed store and 1 church. There are farm markets, of course, an electrical contractor and probably a few other home based businesses but when comparing store front to store front, times have certainly changed.

There is still a sense of community, people are friendly and always willing to help out for various community events, including a large celebration for Canada Day.

Do you like the gratuitous background I used in the photo above?

It's another thrift store find. It's a hand sewn quilt for a single bed. The reverse is white; each tiny stitch is impossibly perfect and the radiating floral pattern in the centre is just beautiful. What I really love about this quilt, though, is that it's the same style of work that my great grandmother used to make. My mom still has one or two that my 'Big Grandma' made. (That was the moniker given to her to differentiate between her and my grandmother.)

I can still remember going into the dark, low ceiling basement of her old house, quite scared of the ominous furnace at the end, but also quite enthralled with whatever large quilt she had set up in the frame waiting for her to sit and stitch a spell. I used to crawl underneath and look at the pattern from the bottom up, but only for a minute; there were Chinese checkers upstairs, calling my name.

~Be well friends~


ain't for city gals said...

Suonds like a trip to my Grandma's attic...when I was little that room was gigantic...when I was 25 or so I went back and the room was so tiny...lots of good times those. Thanks for this post...brought back lots of good memories..

~from my front porch in the mountains~ said...

I am a local history nut, too! I have to know who lived in my home and everything about the area!
Wow. We have so much in common!

Your quilt find is awesome :) Love the color.

I am looking forward to a tour of all the things you have uncovered about the area you live in!!!

xo, misha
p.s. look for an email from me this weekend! Geez, you would think we were mailing letters!

Elle Bee said...

Oh my gosh, you paint such a vivid picture of childhood. My Nana had chinese checkers! And a scary furnace in the basement too! No quilts though. That is quite special.

Unknown said...

Hi there, interesting that you wrote about a library today...we are getting a new state of the art library in our little town soon, and it now behooves me to go and get snaps of the old one before they move out...
always a pleasure,

Deb said...

We are local history nuts here as well. Do you have a local historical society? We got all kinds of info from their records here. I love your quilt too, my mum always had the quilt frames set up in the living room from January to March doing at least two quilts in that time.

Julia said...

I think finding things out about your area gives a depth of meaning to the place where you dwell, its a lovely thing to do! The quilt reminds me of something my nan had once, its beautifully made isnt it!

Sending love
Julia x x x

Maura @ Kisiwa Creek Photography said...

Good Morning Andrea, what an interesting post! I'm like you...I want to know as much as I can about the farm that we bought and the little town just 7 miles from us. It makes you feel more rooted when you know these things. I LOVE the quilt that you found and about how you would sit under your Great Grandmothers quilt rack and see it from the bottom up. What a great visual. You've given me an idea for a future post....thank you Andrea and I'm going to mention that the idea came from you! Have a wonderful day....Maura :-)

Flat Creek Farm said...

What a wonderful post, Andrea! I really should delve more into our local history. We know who built the house we live in, oh so many years ago.. a very eccentric doctor. I've always wanted to know more about him and his family, but kept hitting roadblocks and gave up. You've inspired me though! Sounds like you live in an area rich in history and interesting stories! -Tammy

Harvest Kitchen Sisters said...

I love my Grandmother, just sitting around listening to her stories about the good old days. Picking her brain about how her family used to do things (canning, home butchery,etc)and trying to implement some of these lessons ito my own life so that I can pass them down to my children. There are so many super important lessons about sustainability that are lost from generation to generation.

Girl Tornado said...

I love the idea of researching your local heritage and history... our town is not much more than a teeny post office, the propane gas company, a BBQ catering place that opens up to the public one Saturday night a month, and I think that's about it? I think there might be a very teeny bank branch in town too. No gas station, no grocery, nothing!

And I love that quilt in your photo. My 93 year old grandmother was a quilt maker extraordinaire. She specialized in cross stitch and applique, and I have several of her quilts. When we were cleaning out her house last month, I found a bag in a trunk in her attic, full of pieced together quilt tops. I know she didn't make them, she never did the patchwork style... but we have no idea where they came from! I took them, and I hope to finish each one, supplying the batting and fabric back, and quilting each one with hand stitches. It will take the rest of my lifetime, fershur, there's about 7 of them in that bag! :-) But I just know there's history and possibly a story behind them... sure wish we knew what it was.

Anonymous said...

Wow, a hand-stitched quilt found at a thrift store? Amazing!