Quilt Top from Saskatchewan – Updated



August 30, 2023



Soon after the Lost and Found Mystery Quilt story was published on the Blog, CQA/ACC received an email from Beverly Rambo of Oxford, Ohio. She had picked up an embroidered signature quilt top from a Goodwill store in northern Michigan several years ago.

“The quilt top (or tablecloth) is of Canadian origin, which makes me wonder,” she wrote, “could it be a misplaced or lost textile? Was it really intended to be sold at Goodwill? Is someone looking for it? What story does this quilt tell?”

Saskatchewan signature quilt top from World War II

Joanna Dermenjian, of Suture and Selvedge, who researches Red Cross quilts and other quilts made during the world wars and sent overseas, thought it was “an amazing piece, full of history and geography and story”. She thinks it is likely a summer bedspread, possibly made for a fundraiser for the war effort.

“Sometimes Canadian women made items like this during the war to auction off in order to raise funds to buy materials to make quilts or knitted items for the war effort,” Joanna explains. “It was common for many women to each contribute a block.”

What is especially interesting about the 30 blocks (each approximately 11 inches square) in this quilt top is that they are made by women from seven different communities in Saskatchewan: Verigin, Hamton, Rhein, Yorkton, Runnymede, Regina, and Playmore.

Saskatchewan quilt top detail

Do you recognize any of the names on this quilt? Beverly kindly transcribed the text as best she could, noting that the embroidered lettering can be difficult to decipher.

Column 1:
Mrs L.M. Fesjk
Edna K
Mrs J. Tomek
Jinnie Kulczycki, Runneymede, Sask
Mrs Mary Kozmech
Anna (?)

Column 2:
Mrs. D. Wlasichuk
Mrs M. Prokopetz
“A” and 1942
Mrs Ann M. Andrychuk, Verigin, Sask
Mrs Annie Filipchuk, Hamton
Mrs Mary Andrychuk

Column 3:
Miss K. Andrychuk, Verigin, Sask 1942
Mrs J.A. Zaharia, Rhein, Sask
Mrs Lena Oystryk, Verigin, Sask
Mrs. M. Filipchuk, Regina, Sask
M. B. 1942—Mrs Edith Boychuk, Playmore, Sask

Column 4:
Mrs (can’t decipher name), Verigin
Mrs N Chyril (?), Hamton, Sask
Mrs T Oystryk, 135 Betts Ave, Yorkton
Mrs Metro Kereluk, Rhein, Sask
Mrs Zelly Todoschuk, 1942
Mrs F. Oystryk

Column 5:
Mrs M.T. Bernard, Hamton, Sask
Mrs Mary Uhryn, V for Victory
Mrs John Andrychuk
F-Mrs Mike Uhryn
Mrs George Achtymichuk
Martha Oystrick

“I am writing,” Beverly says, “to share information about this item to see if anyone, particularly in the Saskatchewan communities listed, has any knowledge about this quilt top and/or would like to take ownership of it due to its historical significance.”

If you have a lead, please email editor@canadianquilter.com.

OCTOBER 16, 2023—A Family Connection!

In September, Beverly’s story was shared in a Canadian Quilter newsletter, and inspired a reply from Sandra A, who sent us this link to a Readers Digest article. The story also appeared in print in Our Canada magazine, and was written by Tracy Perreault, whose family quilt is almost identical to Beverly’s!

Tracy Perreault’s signature quilt.

Tracy Perreault’s family signature quilt

Tracy had found the quilt in a cedar chest that she was looking through after her mother passed away. It belonged to Tracy’s grandmother, her Baba, who had lived in Kamsack, SK.

Tracy’s family immigrated to Saskatchewan more than 100 years ago, from Ukraine.

Just like the quilt top that Beverly found, this quilt was embroidered with the names and places of family members. She says it was created in 1941-42, during the second world war, but it isn’t a Victory quilt. It was made to commemorate a wedding anniversary of her grandparents. Tracy subsequently donated the quilt to the Ukrainian Museum of Canada in Saskatoon.

After reading Tracy’s article, Beverly immediately searched her quilt for similarities. She did find at least one name on both quilts that could be the same person. Joanna Dermenjian searched obituaries and was able to confirm that Mrs Mary Uhryn on Beverly’s quilt, and Mrs Ivan Uhryn on Tracy’s quilt, were indeed the same person!

This detective work was getting exciting!

Some of the info in Tracy’s article intrigued Beverly, for example that the blocks would have been embroidered in the evenings in the light of kerosene lamps, as the pioneers didn’t have electricity at the time.

Tracy believes the size of Beverly’s quilt indicates it may have been used as a tablecloth, unlike Tracy’s quilt, which was safely stored in a cedar chest as a keepsake. Admittedly, Beverly’s quilt has some age spots/stains and dirt smudges, but these do not detract from its beauty. It merely means the smaller quilt more regularly saw the light of day, while Tracy’s Baba’s quilt was a “good” quilt that may have been brought out only for special occasions or periodic viewing.

The women who embroidered the blocks would have sent the blocks by mail to whomever assembled the quilt top, according to Tracy’s article. This explains the numerous locations from which the blocks originated (seven on Beverly’s quilt). Beverly commented: “How interesting that quilters have been sending/sharing work through the mail for years. It seems the idea of a long distance quilting bee is not a ‘modern’ concept after all!”

Armed with lots of curiosity about the similarities in the names on both quilt tops, Beverly set out to contact Tracy directly, which she was able to do with the help of the museum and Our Canada magazine. Their correspondence started with email, and then a phone call.

Imagine Beverly’s delight when Tracy confirmed two things: that three quarters of the names on Beverly’s quilt were Tracy’s relatives; and that Beverly’s quilt likely belonged to one of Tracy’s Baba’s sisters.

In a second phone call, Tracy confirmed with Beverly that a THIRD quilt exists and is currently in the possession of a cousin of Tracy’s mother! Could this get any more exciting?

Also, Tracy thinks she’s discovered the answer to the question: how did the quilt top end up in a Michigan thrift store? After consulting with her relatives, she learned that members of her parents’ generation often went to Michigan in search of temporary work in the auto industry.

“In my wildest dreams,” said Beverly, “I never really thought I would connect with an actual family member of even one of the women on my quilt, so this is really exciting!”

Tracy mused that the story has the makings of a Hallmark movie.

What will happen to Beverly’s quilt?

“I think it is very important that the quilt in my possession be returned to Canada,” says Beverly. “I’m just not sure yet to whom and when. Details still to come.”

“I am just thrilled…that we all understand and value the importance of what has transpired since I sent that first email to the Canadian Quilters Association website in late August, 2023!”

We look forward to hearing where Beverly’s quilt top ends up!

Quilt Canada July 19-22, 2023

Quilt Canada July 19-22, 2023

Quilt Canada July 19-22, 2023 in Edmonton, Alberta