Part 8: Quilt block designs and the Quebec block
Quilts before 1800 typically had a central motif but after 1800 the block style became more popular mainly using squares and triangles. In fact most patchwork patterns that exist today existed in the 1800’s.
The older the pattern the more variety of names it is likely to have. Names often mirror circumstances; hard times, beauty in nature, political trends, religious dedications and the everyday things that were around the quilters. Bear tracks became Ducks Foot in urban areas where there were no bears, while Quakers called the pattern Hands of Friendship. Jacobs Ladder in New England became a Stepping Stone in Virginia, Wagon Tracks in Mississippi or Underground Railway for abolitionists ….. different names, different places, different meaning. School House, Flying Geese, Basket, Drunkards Path, Hole in the Barn, Ship of Dreams, Trip Around the World, Orange Peel, Snowball Jacobs Ladder, Jobs Tears ( Endless Chain) are all patterns we still recognize and use today.… lots of block patterns at Quilters Cache
Superstition also comes into play. After-all you would never have a child sleep under a Wandering Foot pattern as they would grow up restless and unhappy. Certainly no bride would have it in her hope chest unless it was renamed Turkey Tracks to break the curse.…. more history and pattern
Blocks often have different labels to describe the same things. Sometimes it seems like different languages are spoken depending on where you live. So on the theme of language I decided to tackle the province of Quebec as my next block.
At this point I will take a political history pause to remind myself this entire “Canada 150” celebration is because Quebec along with Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were the 4 provinces* to 1st enter confederation on July 1st 1867 to form the Dominion of Canada.
(* Actually 3 provinces that entered into confederation in 1867, mainly NB, NS and the Province of Canada. Turns out that in 1791 the province of Quebec, that stretched from what is now southern Quebec and southern Ontario, was split into Upper Canada and Lower Canada …. and than becomes the Province of Canada, in 1841, with the Union Act. From what I can figure out, with the creation of the Dominion of Canada, the Province of Canada becomes Quebec and Ontario. Sorry I have gone off on a tangent but I must have slept through that nuance of Canadian confederation history )
But lets return to quilting blocks…
Quebec became my second home in 1975 when I decided to attend McGill University in Montreal. I spent the next 4 years there enjoying a lifestyle very different from Hamilton. I have such great memories of this part of Canada.
I remember the Montreal Olympics and of course the 1st referendum. I loved old Montreal, hikes up Mount Royal, the St Lawrence River, festivals, outdoor cafes and my 1st experience seeing mountains! It was fun to visit the walled Quebec City and of course carnival. Maple syrup and red maple trees are very much come to mind when I think of Quebec. I heard that 70% of maple syrup in the world comes from this province! It is not hard to understand how the maple leaf block design was especially popular in Quebec and taught for over 100 years ago in convent schools to young ladies. Even 3 green maple leaves appear in the Quebec Coat of Arms. In the end I decided water and its rivers have an even more symbolic importance to this province historically and today. The St Lawrence River brought the settlers far inland and I picture hardy voyageurs travelling the rivers and lakes. The rivers were critical to industries such as the lumber and pulp and paper industry. Let’s not also forget the massive James Bay and and other hydro developments that power the province today.
The following pattern of 4 bears paws reminds me of a generator with its spinning gears or maybe a water wheel. I am not sure what the correct name is for it. In my EQ6 reference material it is called Contrary Wife but I think this is incorrect. In my Jenny Beyer reference it appears to be the Union block (Union Square, Union Star) or Four Crowns.
Now if I did want to come up with Province of Canada block this block could have also worked . After all it was the Union Act of 1840 that created the province of Canada. Or maybe given the squabbles between Upper and Lower Canada maybe a combination of the Contrary Wife and Contrary Husband blocks could have also worked 🙂 . I wonder how these names came about???
Quebec block (Union block)