Extraordinary Quilts that Bridged Nations in World War II

Collections Manager Megan Purcell holds the donation of a war time quilt that was made by Canadian women and sent to England.

If objects could talk, this quilt would have an extraordinary tale, traveling thousands of kilometers to bring warmth to families in need.

Our part of this story starts in early 2023, Museum Collections Manager, Megan Purcell (pictured) was contacted to see if the Museum at Campbell River would be interested in accepting into the Collection a hand crafted quilt made by Canadian women and donated to families in England who had lost everything in bombing raids during the World War II. 

This extraordinary act of generosity had almost been forgotten if it weren’t for the efforts of three friends in Britain. In 2005, Anna Mansi, Jackie Maxwell, and Maxine March heard a talk about quilts that had been made in Canada and sent by the Canadian Red Cross to the UK as part of civilian relief during the war. This left a lasting impression on each of them, and as keen quilters themselves with an interest in the history of the craft, they were surprised that they had never heard of such quilts. Then shortly afterwards, one of them came across such a quilt in the charity shop where she was a volunteer, it encouraged them to look for more and to find out more about the project.

They decided to set up a research group to rescue as many quilts as possible,  share their remarkable story, and to raise the profile of the quilts and to bring them home to Canada. In the following 18 years, the group documented over 200 quilts and formed a collection of more than 100.

This story is told in the Look Back feature article in the Campbell River Mirror newspaper, published October 21, 2023. Read the full story here.

This quilt, and it’s story, are on display at the Museum at Campbell River from November 7 to 12 in honour of Remembrance Day.

Museum at Campbell River respectfully acknowledges the Liǧʷiɫdax̌ʷ First Nation, on whose traditional lands we work to preserve, interpret and share the collective human history of North Vancouver Island. The Liǧʷiɫdax̌ʷ First Nation is comprised of the We Wai Kai, Wei Wai Kum and Kwiakah First Nations. Our closest neighbors are the Coast Salish Xwemalhkwu, Klahoose and K’ómoks First Nations.

These nations have close connections to the land where Campbell River is located today.

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