Sunday, February 08, 2009

Stash Sunday

While I was in Thunder Bay, at my Dad's funeral, I made a last-minute-on-the-way-to-the-airport stop at this fabric store of which I know of. It carries Kaffe Fasset's stripes and shot cottons. SO I snuck in a picked these up.

When I was folding them after I washed them (yep, I'm an obsessive prewasher since the monkey quilt disaster ), when I realized that they remind me of Thunder Bay for another reason.

Ready for a little Canadian history? If not, just look at the lovely fabric and click on through.
My home town, Thunder Bay, is one of the northern most bays in Lake Superior. Lake Superior is the most inland of the great lakes, which join together and feed into the St. Laurence River, which then feeds into the Atlantic Ocean. In the 1700's, when Canada was first settled, its major export was fur, and the major method of transport was canoe. All along the canoe routes there were Forts, where Native American and European trappers would drop off their furs.These forts were set up by trading companies and contained all the basic amenities that might be needed by trappers or voyageurs (the guys that paddled the canoes up and down the rivers and lakes) - doctors, smiths, bars - as well as some representatives of the trading company that set up the fort. Thunder Bay was originally founded at this time, as Fort William, by the North West Trading Company (if I remember correctly). It was at the head of the great lakes, and on the shores of a river that led into a series of smaller rivers and lakes that led into the rest of what is now Northern Ontario and Manitoba.

Still with me? Fast forward to the present day. About 30 or 35 years ago, Thunder Bay was still on a major trade route. Grain from the prairies would come into town by train and go out on big Ocean going Container Ships. But there was an argument between the rail union and the wheat board and wheat started going West out to Vancouver instead. In the midst of this they found / excavated the ruins of Fort William, then reconstructed it a few miles further up the river, and made it into a tourist stop, complete with summer job seeking university students in full costume baking bread, smithing metal, building canoes, and paddling up and down the river.

Okay, back to the connection to the fabric shown above. Those woven stripes totally remind me of all the bright, striped shirts and sashes worn by the French voyageurs at Old Fort William. It brought me back to field trips in elementary school where we would dress like voyageurs and cart water and paddle canoes and learn paddle dances and cook bannock around campfires and learn to find ten kinds of edible root in the forest. The soft, homespun quality of the fabric and the lively yet earthy colours triggered my very tactile memory. And that, friends, is how my mind works.

Anyway, I do love these fabrics. Don't know if I"ll use all the stripes together or as two colourways. Hmm. . . .


moiraeknittoo said...

This is a great story! I have similar feelings whenever I smell or touch deerhide. Growing up on the Front Range of Colorado, there was a lot of Native American history and teepees and frontiersmen and Western settler history. I have some doeskin in a box somewhere, and hope to get around to doing some beading or maybe a drum case someday.

Isn't it neat, how we can incorporate such memories into our crafting?

Danielle , Alberta, Canada said...

Good morning Jill, Thanks for that bit of history, I didn't know much about Thunder Bay. We drove thru on our way to Quebec this Christmas. It's a beautiful place, we slept at the Prince Albert hotel and saw a magnificent sunrise. I will add Fort William to our list of stops in 2012 on our great road trip home. Thanks for sharing. Danielle