Ontario's Heritage Quilts. Rev. ed.


160 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 1-55046-383-4
DDC 746.9'7




Reviewed by Karen F. Danielson

Karen Danielson, Ph.D., is a research consultant at Laurentian
University who specializes in leisure, textiles, family life, and Japan.


In this well-illustrated book, Marilyn Walker has preserved a record of
heritage quilts in Ontario. She has also included the necessary
information to show why they are cultural treasures. It is significant
that quilts provided settlers with a warm cover in cold weather and a
colourful accent in their homes, but Walker also explains how they
represent the time of their making.

Walker finds clues to the expertise, age, and motivations of the women
who made them by studying the cloth, colour selections, stitches, and
patterns. Early quilts were made from flour sacks, yardage from the
mail-order catalogue, traded scraps, textiles from nearby mills, and
cloth brought from other countries. Quilts made from kits, Mennonite
quilting traditions, quilting bees, and commemorative quilts are
covered, as are the contemporary artistic quilts.

The way the quilts were used is also an important aspect of Walker’s
record. The images show how different quilts might have decorated a room
in summer or winter. She discusses how a nursing mother might have used
a quilt to keep warm, how a church community used one to honour a
retiring minister, and how a quilt may have covered a soldier’s bed, a
table, or a living-room couch. Many of the quilts have added importance
because they were given away on special occasions or have been passed
down through the generations.

The book covers many techniques, from natural dying to embroidery,
appliqué, trapunto, paper cutting, and piecing. Walker draws attention
to excellent stitching, the work of young children, the basis for
various design and colour choices, examples of creative adaptation, and
the meaning of symbols. Care of the quilts is discussed throughout, and
a special section on cleaning, storage, and display is provided. Basic
instructions for making a quilt are also included.

This book is an excellent guide and a source of inspiration for anyone
who wants to acquire, create, or display heritage quilts.


Walker, Marilyn I., “Ontario's Heritage Quilts. Rev. ed.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 20, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/17563.