In the early 1980s, Canada Packers Inc. established the Canada Packers Manitoba Quilt Collection as a community recognition project. The idea behind this project was to recognize the traditional and continuing Canadian craft of quilting. The Manitoba Association of Agricultural Societies participated in the project. This association represents the Agricultural Societies in the Province, which operate the fairs in many communities across Manitoba.
Quilts were entered in quilting competitions at local fairs across Manitoba. The winners in these local fairs then were entered in district competitions. The winners from these district competitions went onto to compete in the Provincial Competition which was held at the Manitoba Association of Agricultural Societies Annual Convention. The winner in this competition was declared the Grand Champion Quilt for that year and added to the Canada Packer Manitoba Quilt Collection. Canada Packers made the quilt collection available for display to any organization, association, community group, museum etc. in Manitoba that requested the collection. These groups could use the collection in connection with other displays of arts or crafts or in conjunction with a community fund raising event for charitable purposes. Canada Packers provided transportation, set-up and dismantling services at no cost to the requesting group.
The project came to an end with the 1988 Grand Champion. Canada Packers was experiencing significant financial problems in the late 1980s resulting from the outdated hog slaughter plants it was operating. Canada Packers was merged with Maple Leaf Mills with the resulting company being renamed Maple Leaf. At that time the quilt project was ended and the collection donated to the Manitoba Agricultural Museum.
Quilting in Manitoba has deep historical roots. Its many original, symbolic forms derived from the traditions of the people of Manitoba who possess a wide range of backgrounds.
The persistence of these rich and varied traditions provided a solid and fruitful basis for the quilts in the collection. Rich in tradition and artistic qualities the quilts in the collection are truly representative of the achievements of our Manitoba people.
Quilts served a variety of purposes however in Pioneer Manitoba quilts were mainly used as bed covering however quilts could be used as coverings for people traveling in cold weather. Quilts often served as a means of recycling fabrics from worn blankets, clothing and other items. However not all cloth used in quilts was recycled.
Paper was used in quilts making as patterns or used as insulation in quilts. As paper was scarce in Pioneer times, often newspapers, letters or other items were used. The paper in pioneer era quilts then can be a valuable source of information on Pioneer life.
Grand Champion Quilts in the Collection
1984 Grand Champion Quilt: Appliqué Sampler by Mrs. Thruda Floyd, Arborg, Manitoba
Many traditional appliqué patterns are combined in the first Canada Packers prize winning quilt for Manitoba. The color scheme was established by using all the colors contained in two printed fabrics. Touches of lace, embroidery and tatting added surface interest and a delicate impression. Fabrics are cotton and polyester / cotton blends.
1985 Grand Champion Quilt: Oriental Blossoms by Mrs. Doris Warnica, Miami, Manitoba
This quilt not only blossoms with appliquéd and embroidered flowers but with good wishes. The Oriental characters translate as “A beautiful and lovely individual” , “Enjoy one’s life”, “Love, Prosperity” and “Happiness, Long Life” They were formed of two bias strips which were joined then shaped and appliquéd. The tightly woven cotton shirting material has a lovely sheen.
1986 Grand Champion Quilt: International Year of Peace by Mrs. Betty Klassen, Winkler, Manitoba
The appliquéd doves depict the universal flow of peace and was particularly appropriate as the choice for the International Year of Peace. The pattern is an original design which was completed in just four months. Designs are formed by the “Celtic Quilting” technique, where bias strips are appliquéd over the joins where tow fabrics meet. Many traditional quilting patterns embellish the plain areas.
1987 Grand Champion Quilt: Wild Ducks by Mrs. Doris Warnica, Miami, Manitoba
Skilful choice of a large number of colors and prints guaranteed a nearly-alive appearance to the mallard ducks. This common Manitoba scene was appliquéd of polyester / cotton blend fabrics. Detailing of sky, water and land was created by quilting stitches. Multiple borders frame the scene beautifully.
1988 Grand Champion Quilt: Four By Eight Stars by Mrs. Anne Morrison, Winnipeg, Manitoba
This design was the result of folding scrap of paper and drawing in a few lines. The quilt was hand pierced and hand quilted using red / white hearts prints and red / white stripe polyester / cotton fabrics. The choice of fabrics create motion and give this quilt a wonderful three dimensional effect.