The Handmade Quilt at Randall House Museum

The Handmade Quilt at Randall House Museum
By Krystal Tanner, Curator

When you think of the word quilt, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it a decorative bed covering, a piece of wall art, or perhaps a loving memory of someone? One of the things that museums do best is use objects to evoke stories from our visitors. You know you’ve done a good job when a simple object can bring a visitor to tears over the memory of a loved one or bring a smile to a weary traveller’s face as they share a fond story of growing up in a farmhouse similar to the Randall House. It’s a common thing to hear phrases such as “we had one of those growing up,” or “I remember when…”

As the Wolfville Historical Society has recently relocated the majority of the textile collection to an offsite storage location, we thought this year would be the perfect time to display part of our quilt collection in the exhibit, The Handmade Quilt. The exhibit features a variety of handmade quilts including crazy quilts, yo-yo quilts, and patchwork quilts.

While it’s difficult to choose a favourite from the nineteen that are on display, one of our staff’s top picks is the Flying Goose quilt. While it doesn’t have a strong local connection, the historical background of the pattern itself is fascinating. The pattern was used as part of a secret communication system called the Underground Railway Quilt Code. The arrow shapes, which represent the geese on the quilt, would point escaped slaves in the direction of travelling geese who were migrating north in the spring.

Another favourite of our quilts on display is a signature quilt made by the Wolfville Ridge Club. The club was first organized in 1936 with the primary objective of helping those in need. The quilt on display at the museum dates to 1958 and contains the hand-stitched names of all the girls who were part of the club at that time. What a historical gem! We wonder what your favourite quilt will be when you come to visit!

The Handmade Quilt will be on display at Randall House Museum (259 Main Street, Wolfville) until December. For more information and museum hours please visit our website wolfvillehs.ednet.ns.ca. You can also email us at randallhouse@outlook.com or give us a ring (902)542-9775.