Saltair’s Sesquicentennial Quilt

To watch the video presentation of the Saltair Quilter’s please click on the highlighted link:

The needles are flying, and the machines humming as a group of Saltair quilters puts the final stitches into a giant 10 foot quilt that will be unveiled in June as a run-up to Canada Day 150. Christa Stegemann and her crew of about 12 quilters talked with me about the significance of the project and the pleasures of quilting recently at their space in the Saltair Community Centre on South Oyster School Road.

Work on the project began about a year ago, when the quilters group heard the Saltair Community Centre was planning a grand opening event in June. What better way to recognized the the now and then of Saltair, than by coming together in the production of a commemorative quilt. “I thought that it would be a good idea to provide a quilt that would somehow reflect the local scenery, and also reflect our love of quilting,” Stegemann said.

Since then about 12 quilters have been contributing to the final hanging, each designing an artistically stitched fabric square for the overall design. As of mid-April all the scenes had been sewn onto three large panels and quilter Bronwen Cossey was getting ready to sew the panels together into the 10 ft. tapestry. Included in the mix are images of: The Big Rock, a well known landmark to most Saltairians; Stocking Creek Falls; wildlife like heron deer and gulls; a tug plowing through the dark blue waters of the Salish Sea.

“We did want to choose landmarks that most people are familiar with,” Stegemann said. “So that’s how the whole thing began, and I believe that The Big Rock was the first thing that came to our minds, because any of the children who have grown up in this area, they know about the rock.”

As well as a commemorative project, the Sesquicentennial Quilt is a demonstration of the collaborative and community-building aspects of quilting. “It certainly satisfies an artistic bent in every one of us,” Stegemann said of the quilters’ passion. But there’s much more to it. Quilt club members were chatting continuously in the background as Stegemann and I chatted. There’s a huge social component to quilting, reminiscent of pioneer bees people’s Saltairian forebears would have joined in.

As well, quilts are often contributed to the community, finding homes on the walls and beds of people who need warmth and comforting. Jackie Miller was stitching away at her machine, making a quilt that will be donated to a community organization. She belongs to a group called The Cowichan Valley Heritage Quilters. “They’re the ones that will be distributing this quilt to the community,” she said. “I think in a year we would give out about 150 quilts.”

Newcomer Sue Maycock, who took up the quilter’s needle when she joined four months ago, is planning to use contemporary quilt designs to decorate her new home. “I just decided now I’m retired, I’ve got a little bit more time, I can learn some new crafts,” she said. “I like making wall hangings. I recently moved into a house, which I’m filling up the walls with gradually, so I’ve been doing some more modern quilting – bright colours to brighten up the walls.”

There’s any number of reasons a person might want to quilt. To find out more, contact Stegemann at peaceshalome [at] telus [dot] net. The quilters meet Tuesdays from 9:30 a.m. to about 3 p.m. at the Saltair Community Centre. Beginners to experts are welcome. “We’re going to be offering little workshops, just to get people started,” she said. “Once they’ve started, they’re usually hooked.”

Article and video provided by writer Craig Spence

Leave a Reply