photo of stacks of charity quilts made for canada 150

Giving and Caring Through Quilting

Rebecca McAlpine
Winter 2019

Across the country, Canada’s sesquicentennial saw great numbers of community initiatives. Indeed, one of the federal government’s goals for Canada’s 150 celebration year was “to bring Canadians together to build community and activate a groundswell of local initiatives.” This challenge to reach out to local communities, was fully embraced by the Quilt Guild in Oakville, ON, west of Toronto.

Our president during the 150 sesquicentennial year, Rosemary Rosier, challenged the guild to make 150 quilts to be distributed within the local community. This was a formidable challenge considering the objective of having quilts completed and ready for distribution by the end of Canada’s 150 year. Guild members went straight to work.

The kick off to the 150 Quilt Challenge was a fun, musical guild meeting. The guild members worked in teams and picked fabrics to the sound of various musical themes and within an hour had five quilt tops completed. To keep the momentum going, 69 pizza box kits were distributed to members to make quilt tops outside of guild time.

photo of stacks of charity quilts made for canada 150

Following the mandate to reach out to the local community, the guild engaged Oakville at Family and Culture Day sewing events. These events produced another 62 quilt tops. Guild members rallied behind the vision by donating 33 quilt tops and 40 fully completed quilts! Guild workshops brought teams together to work on strip, quilt-as-you-go quilts, adding another 12 quilts.

Collaboration among members came easily – everyone took pride in progressing toward the goal. To keep on track, a colourful poster with a running total of completed quilts was revealed each month at meetings. Our final tally estimated using 332 metres of batting, 995 metres of backing and 1,105 metres of fabric for quilt tops. Not to be forgotten, the 583 sheets from lint rollers! Less precisely measured were the hours of fun, laughter and new friendships.

The initial challenge of 150 quilts was well surpassed. The guild completed and distributed 213 quilts to local community charities, such as Big Brothers® and Big Sisters®, Erinoak Kids, Hope Place, Salvation Army® Hospice and included many newcomers to Canada. In memory of this historical year, the quilts are labeled with a commemorative 150 Sesquicentennial label (at right).

photo of oakville quilters guild canada 150 quilt label

As members relished the accomplishment it was the thank you from local community organizations that was truly humbling. We give thanks to all guild members for rallying behind the 150 Quilt Challenge. The greater thanks, however, goes to our community for providing us the opportunity to foster a lasting legacy of giving and caring through quilting.

Rebecca McAlpine was the president of the Oakville Quilt Guild in 2018.


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