Lanark County Quilting Legends – of the 1950s, 60s and 70s

Almost every family had one – a quilter; someone who could take random bits of cloth, even scraps or rags, and turn them into a work of art. They were the creative ones; usually the quiet ones, sitting off in a corner, away from the crowds, working on their quilting blocks, embellishing their squares of cloth with embroidery, and intricate stitchery. They were the serious ones, labouring with precision, ensuring that their stitches were evenly spaced, even in places hidden deep within the seams of the cloth.

Ladies quilting # 2Ladies quilting # 3quilts at the fair

These quilters were the unsung heroes of home crafting. Blessed with nimble fingers, tireless hands, and meticulous sight, they turned the family’s cast-off clothing and abandoned fabrics into beautifully designed bedcovers; fit for the coldest Eastern Ontario winters. Often young, inexperienced hands worked alongside older, farm-weathered hands, at community quilting bees. The older ones were the masters, the coaches, and the instructors, guiding the young ones on the finer points of their art.

quilting at the frame

 

Pattern:  Parasol Ladies

umbrella ladies quilt

Pattern:  Log Cabin

log cabin pattern

 

Pattern:  Double Wedding Ring

Double Wedding Ring

Many of these artisans were sociable, and organized quilting bees, welcoming all of the ladies in the neighbourhood. They assembled quilting frames, and set up sturdy, wooden chairs all around, inviting the experienced and the not-so-experienced, to join the circle.

ladies around quilting frame

There were lively conversations along with occasional laughter and story-telling, mixed in with the stitching. The quilting bees always ended on a high note – with hot tea poured lovingly into delicate china cups, served alongside decadent homemade cookies and squares.

cookie and tea

 

A few quilted on their own, but many were members of local churches, community organizations, or Womens’ Institutes.

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Eleanor Conboy’s Quilts

Eleanor Conboy  (Eleanor was the daughter of George Garrett and Edith Armstrong)

Eleanor Conboy (1922-2015) was an avid quilter, and good friend to my mother.  The Conboy family farm was not far from the Stafford home on the Third Line of Bathurst (Tay Valley Township) Eleanor Conboy and Audry Stafford often worked at the quilting ‘bees’ together, at neighbour Lottie (Charlotte Keays Jordan) Jordan’s house.

Many thanks to Trina McMillan Conboy for sharing the photos below, of some of Eleanor’s beautiful quilts!

Eleanor Conboy's quilt # 1     Eleanor Conboy's quilt # 2

Eleanor Conboy's quilt # 3   Eleanor Conboy's quilt # 4

Eleanor Conboy's quilt # 6   Eleanor Conboy's quilt # 7

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200th Anniversary Quilt- by the Lanark County Quilters Guild

This quilt was designed and produced by the Lanark County Quilters Guild to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the pioneer settlement, and features a map of Lanark County.

200th Anniversary quilt

200th Anniversary quilt detail

Detail of 200th Anniversary Quilt, photo taken at the 200th Anniversary event for Tay Valley Township

The Shamrock Quilt of Ferguson Falls

One of the most beautiful quilts in Lanark County, was crafted by the ladies of Ferguson Falls, and features many of the local names on each square.  Known as ‘The Shamrock Quilt’, it was donated to the Lanark Museum, and may be seen there, one of their treasured artifacts.

shamrock quilt

The Shamrock Quilt,  from the collection of the Lanark Museum, Lanark, Ontario.

Shamrock Quilt July 2018 Lanark Museum

Arlene Stafford-Wilson, with The Shamrock Quilt, Lanark Museum, Lanark village,  July 2018

Some of the most active quilting groups

in the 1950s, 60s and 70s in Lanark County:

 

Balderson Women’s Institute

Bethel Women’s Institute

Calvin United Church – Calvinettes, and U.C.W

Drummond Centre Women’s Institute

Elphin community quilters

Flower Station community quilters

Glad Tidings Tabernacle Church, Ladies group, Perth, ON

Harper Women’s Institute

Hopetown community quilters

Innisville – St. John’s Women’s Association

Lanark – Catholic Women’s League

Maberly United Church W.A.

McMartin House, Perth, ON

St. John’s Church Perth – Catholic Women’s League, Perth, ON

Port Elmsley Women’s Institute

Rideau Ferry United Church Women’s Group

Salvation Army Church, Perth, ON

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Women’s Missionary Society, Perth, ON

St. James Anglican Church, Perth, ON

St. Paul’s United Church, Ladies group, Perth, ON

Watson’s Corners U.C.W.

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The highlight of the year for many in farm country, was to enter quilts, sewing, needlepoint and other handy-work into the local fairs with the hopes of winning a first prize, second prize or third prize ribbon.

Fair quilt display

Many of us who lived in rural areas looked forward each year to the local agricultural fairs.  Our mother, Audry Stafford judged the quilts at area fairs, and those as far away as Madoc and Tweed.

Perth Fair logo on blue

prize ribbons
Audry Stafford judging a quilt

(missing text – First Place awarded to Gladys Haughian)

Whether quilts were entered in the local Fairs, raffled as church fundraisers, or created to keep family members warm on those cold Lanark County winter nights, – they each had their own unique beauty.

Some area quilters were known for their meticulous stitching, their creative designs, or how quickly they could complete their work.

Some quilters were so skilled that they even made the headlines of the local newspapers.

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The Port Elmsley Womens Institute

Completes Quilt at One Sitting  ! ! !

 

Port Elmsley quilters complete

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Do you remember some of Lanark County’s Quilters

of the 1950s, 60s and 70s?

Mrs. Ralph Affleck

Mrs. Alexander

Mrs. Elsie Anderson

Mrs. Ralph Barrie

Mrs. E. Benedict

Miss Jean Blair

Mrs. Bothwell

Mrs. Boyce

Mrs. F.J. Byrne

Mrs. Mildred Briggs

Isobel Cameron

Lillian Cameron

Marguerite Cameron

Mrs. Stewart Cameron

Mrs. Walter Cameron

Mrs. Joseph Chamney

Mrs. Charlton

Mrs. R. Charlton

Mrs. Churchill

Eleanor Conboy

Mrs. Conlin

Mrs. Cooper

Mrs. Charles Crampton

Mrs. George Crampton

Mrs. Clarke Devlin

Mrs. Cecil Dobbie

Mrs. Hilda Donnelly

Mrs. M.J. Donohoe

Mrs. Barbara Dowdall

Mrs. Betty Dowdall

Mrs. H. Duby

Mrs. Clarence Ennis

Mrs. H. Ferguson

Mrs. Dave Foster

Isobel Foster

Marlene Foster

Mrs. B. Fournier

Heather Fournier

Mrs. M.J. Furlong

Maria Fyfe

Miss Mae Gallinger

Mrs. Gamble

Mrs. Clifford Gardiner

Mrs. Lillian Gardiner

Mrs. Oliver Gardiner

Mrs. Thomas Gardiner

Mrs. Adam Geddes

Mrs. Aldon Gray

Mrs. Beverly Hall

Mrs. Earl Hallaren

Mrs. Charles Hermer

Mrs. George Ireton

Mrs. A. Ireton

Mrs. Harry Ireton

Joan Irvine

Mrs. James

Charlotte ‘Lottie’ Keays Jordan

Marion Jordan

Mary Jordan

Mrs. Edward Joynt

Mrs. Kennedy

Mrs. W.P. Kilfoyle

Mrs. Keith Knapp

Mrs. James King

Mrs. Violet Kirkham

Ethel Korry

Mrs. John Larmon

Mrs. Manion

Mrs. C. Matheson

Eleanor McInnis

Mrs. Alex McIntyre

Mrs. McPhee

Mrs. Charles Miller

Edith Miller

Mrs. Ernest Miller

Mrs. Forrest Miller

Mary Miller

May Miller

Mrs. Robert Moodie

Mrs. Eleanor Munroe

Miss Ursula Murphy

Mabel Palmer

Mrs. John Pennett

Mrs. Thomas Phelan

Mrs. Lester Polk

Mary Popplewell

Mrs. Ed Rathwell

Mrs. John Reid

Christine Rice

Florence Rice

Miss Jean Riddell

Mrs. Norman Richardson

Jean Scott

Dorothy Scragg

Eleanor Senkler

Mrs. H. Shaw

Mrs. A.M. Sheppard

Miss Elspeth Smith

Mrs. Somerville

Miss Spence

Audry Stafford

Mrs. Frank Stead

Mrs. Harold Stead

Mary Stewart

Mrs. Stokes

Mrs. E. Thompson

Madge Thompson

Bertha Toutant

Mrs. John Vanden Bosch

Mrs. George Wales

Mrs. Mabel Walroth

Mrs. H. Warwick

Mrs. Sadie Watson

Mrs. Allan Weidenmaier

Mrs. Fred Weidenmaier

Mrs. W.G. Weir

Mrs. Wilfred Wesley

Alice White

Mrs. J. White

Mrs. Roy White

Mrs. Murray Wilson

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quilt pattern book

vintage quilt books

Quilt pattern in Perth Courier

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15 Characteristics

of an outstanding Quilter:

  1. They possess the patience and commitment to complete a long-term project such as a quilt
  2. They have the skill and precision to produce work with fine craftsmanship
  3. They have an artistic eye for good design
  4. They have tremendous self discipline to produce consistent stitching throughout the piece
  5. They have a natural gift of creativity and originality
  6. They have a rare ability to see connections in patterns, and to draw ideas from many sources
  7. They possess a high level of esthetic skills in order to situate patterns to set them off to their advantage
  8. They have the ability to focus on solutions, not on regrets. When they make mistakes, they learn from experience
  9. They experiment with open minds in order to improve
  10. They meaningfully communicate with others in the quilting circle to share ideas
  11. They create designs that have the power to withstand time
  12. Their works are easily distinguished from others of their own time
  13. They have the ability to portray light, perspective, color and space
  14. They teach others and pass down their knowledge
  15. They inspire others to be the best they can be!

These quilting legends of Lanark County passed down their knowledge, and left their legacy in the form of the beautiful quilts that they produced. They were the gifted artisans of their time, and will be remembered for their delicate stitching and colourful designs, works of art that will be handed down through families, for generations to come.

***If you remember a Lanark County quilter, or a quilting organization, (1950s-70s) that has not been mentioned in this article, please send their name in the ‘comments’ box below, and they will be added.

To view additional squares of The Shamrock Quilt, photographed at the Lanark Museum:

The Shamrock Quilt at the Lanark Museum

To learn more about the 200th Anniversary Quilt produced by the Lanark County Quilters Guild in 2016 and the celebration in Tay Valley Township:

200th Anniversary Quilt – 2016

To discover more about quilting in the 1950s, 60s and 70s in Lanark County, read “The Quilting Queens of Lanark County”, from “Lanark County Connections – Memories Among the Maples”  ISBN 978-0-9877026-47

LC Connections

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Book Review – OTTAWA LIFE MAGAZINE

Ottawa Life Magazine reviewLanark County Connections small book cover

“Lanark County Connections – Memories Among the Maples”

In her latest collection of short stories, Ottawa author Arlene Stafford-Wilson remains loyal to the past; faithfully reconstructing the rural Ontario of her childhood. She has crafted these stories, once again set in Lanark County in the 1960s and 70s, with attention to detail; so that people and places, lost and gone in the real world, remain alive on the pages.

As the book begins, the reader is invited to step back in time to enjoy some carefree summer evenings at an old style country dance hall on the Rideau Lakes, known as Antler Lodge. Perth is the setting for another story, where the reader is transported back to an elegant mansion in the 1960s, where the secrets and scandals of its wealthy inhabitants are revealed. Also, in this collection, the author shares an eerie encounter on Gore Street, with a restless spirit, who walks the halls of their childhood home. In one of the more light-hearted tales, the author takes the reader on a laid-back bus tour, set in the 1970s, as it weaves its way through Drummond, Ramsay, Darling, and Dalhousie townships, on Lanark County’s back roads, meeting some delightful local characters, and visiting some lesser-known scenic gems.

The lives of ordinary people sing out from these historical stories, which take place over two decades of closely observed regional life. As in her previous books, the author weaves the names of local people throughout the stories, and includes each name in an index at the back. You may even find your own name in the book!

(Author of “Lanark County Calendar”, “Lanark County Chronicle”, “Lanark County Kid” & “Recipes & Recollections”)

http://www.staffordwilson.com

Free Online Lanark County Land Records 1763-1865

Tobias Stafford petition

Did your ancestors immigrate to North America between 1763-1865? This online database contains more than 82,000 individuals who arrived in present-day Ontario, Canada between 1783 and 1865. Keep in mind that may pioneers from America landed and settled first in this particular area of Canada before moving on to the United States.

Lanark County land record

To obtain a grant of free land, each pioneer settler was required to submit a written petition. He had to supply the necessary certificates from a local judge confirming his age, that he was of good character, and if available a discharge certificate from the military. Usually, the documents were returned, so they are not included with these land petitions.

The process of granting the land followed four essential steps:

• Assigning of specific lots to each settler;
• The land assigned was surveyed to establish exact boundaries
• Settlers were required to clear and cultivate a small section of the land
and build a dwelling house
• Finally, when all of these requirements were satisfied, the deed was issued

Click on the link below to search for your ancestor:

Index of Land Petitions of Upper Canada

Type your ancestor’s name into the search fields:

Land record search

Search land records

This link is an index to the petitions, with full details on where the actual petitions can be found for each individual listed. Remember to note the microfilm, volume, and page numbers, so you may easily find your ancestor’s land records using the next link:

To see the actual images of your ancestor’s land petition:

Digitized Image of Land Petition

land search results

The digitized images are presented in PDF, but there is also a link on the page to the JPG file if you would like to print the record, or save it to your computer’s hard drive.

Once you have the microfilm number, in my case it is C-2739 (see above), then click on the Land Record link below, and it will take you to the page with the digitized images.

Land Record

 

land record link to microfilm

Your record may be on the first page, or you can use the ‘Next’ button at the bottom of the page to move forward to the page where you’ll find the link to your ancestor’s record:

 

link to microfilm

Click on the link to your record, and look for the listing that matched the results in your first search:

 

(this shows you the Petition number, the Volume number, the Reference numbers, etc.)

land record search info

microfilm listing

Use the arrow to move to the pages that you are looking for.  In this case, for my record it is in Vol. 421, RG 1, L 3, and document 59f-59g:   (you may have to check the tops of the pages for the page number you are looking for.  Make sure that you are in the correct section according to your initial search results)

land record page number

….and here is the record for my ancestor, Tobias Stafford, on concession 11, lot 10 of Drummond Township:

land record Tobias Stafford

 

If you are researching your family history, a land record is a valuable addition to your genealogical records.

Finding the land records for your family can be fun to do with the kids or grand kids, and can teach them a bit about their own family history.

grandkids

 

Lanark County also has an interactive map showing historic land ownership.

Click on the link to the site below, click on the township and concession where your ancestor lived, and you will see the listing for the land grant:

Historic Land Ownership for Lanark County

Lanark County historic Land ownership

 

genealogy image

 

The original records are available on microfilm at the Library and Archives Canada.

Contact the Library and Archives Canada

If you are not able to travel to Ottawa, you may email or call the LAC to find out if these microfilms may be loaned to your local library (NAC Series RG 1, L 3)

For more help in finding your Lanark County ancestors’ land records, contact the Archives Lanark:

Archives Lanark

(images of land records and search pages are from the Library and Archives, Canada, 395 Wellington St, Ottawa, ON K1A 0N4)

 

Good luck with your search!

http://www.staffordwilson.com

First Snowfall of the Year

mailbox-snow-2

The first snowflakes of the season fluttered down softly, carried gently by the light breezes, back and forth across my path, until they finally touched the earth, and vanished. The very first snowfall of the year seemed magical, and we gazed up in wonder as if we’d never seen the fragile white crystals before.

It had been many, many months since the last few signs of snow had disappeared late in the spring, and I wondered to myself if these first light flakes of the new season would stay on the ground. Almost in unison with the first snow, the merchants of Perth began to decorate their windows for Christmas, and up and down Gore Street there were signs that Christmas was coming.

Gore Street 1960s

 

James Brothers, Stedman’s, and Beamish had bright lights and shiny garlands in their windows, and Shaw’s always had a festive window display.

kids Christmas store window

jamesbrothers1963-644x435

 

shaws1-644x336

A walk down to Haggis’ candy store was not to be missed, as Mrs. Nee’s colourful candy canes, creamy Christmas fudge, and salty nuts were temptingly displayed.

 

Sophia Nee candy cane

(photo of Sophia Haggis Nee in front of her shop at 60 Gore Street, Perth, Ontario)

The Perth Apothecary always had a beautiful Christmas window with all of their lotions and potions packaged so beautifully, ready to place under the tree.

girl at store window   Christmas store window

Charlie gift set Old spice gift set

 

The signs of the season weren’t visible only in the town of Perth.

Out in the country, we turned on our outdoor lights on December 1st, and even though the lane was long, we could see Dad’s handiwork as we drove up the Third Line, coloured lights draped round and round the spruce tree.

Dad putting up Christmas lights

Tobias ‘Tib’ Stafford, attaching Christmas lights onto our spruce tree, Third Line, Bathurst Twp. , Lanark County  – c. 1970s

Dad took great pride in his annual Christmas display, though it was a far cry from the elaborate decorations on the more stately homes in Perth. It’s strange how, as a child, the lights on your own home, no matter how modest; seem brighter, and more magical than all the rest.

spruce-tree

That first, delicate snowfall of the year falls so silently, whispers so softly, and serves to remind us that Christmas is on its way. It’s time to gather the boxes of decorations from the attic, and time to test our outdoor displays. There are Christmas cards to prepare for mailing, and special foods and drinks to assemble for the big day.

Whenever I see that first snowfall, and the lights and displays all around, I am reminded of our own humble spruce tree on the Third Line, and the weeks of preparation that followed, leading up to the most glorious time of the year.

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Christmas mailbox

 

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http://www.staffordwilson.com
“First Snowfall of the Year”, an excerpt from ‘Lanark County Calendar: Four Seasons on the Third Line”  ISBN  978-0-9877026-30

L C Calendar book cover

photos of James Brothers Hardware and Shaws of Perth courtesy of ‘Perth Remembered

 

We Will Remember Them

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

What a brave and selfless generation they were! When there was a need to serve they signed up for duty, leaving Mothers, Fathers, siblings and sweethearts back home. They had no cell phones or laptops and couldn’t skype or text-message friends and loved ones left behind; but had to be content with writing letters that took weeks sometimes months to arrive.

These soldiers didn’t have up to the minute news broadcasts from CNN alerting them to changes ahead in the long roads that they travelled, but relied on the word of their commanding officers.

Alone at times in foreign countries, after long arduous voyages at sea, these soldiers landed on unknown soil prepared to lay down their lives for Canadians back home. They put themselves in the line of fire to liberate other nations such as Holland and Belgium from the ever present Nazi threats.

They were the gentlemen and often forgotten ladies of wartime. Tomorrow, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, remember those who gave so much to help so many.

I invite you to remember some soldiers near to my heart, gone now, but not forgotten:
Women: l to r: Corporal Audry Rutherford Stafford, Audrey Ham, Mayme Anderson and Marge Harrison
Men: Sgt.Tobias Stafford and his brother Sgt.Peter Vincent Stafford

Grey November Skies

It was one of those mornings in the late fall, when the sky was so grey that you couldn’t tell whether it was daylight, or still dark outside. Halloween was over for another year, and the snow hadn’t begun for the season, to remind us that Christmas was coming. It was just one of those four or five dark, grey, lifeless weeks in between the colourful fall, and the bright snowy winter, when Mother Nature didn’t seem to know what to do.

bare trees 2

I headed downstairs that Saturday morning, and took a quick look at the clock on the kitchen wall. With the sky so overcast, I couldn’t even guess what time it was, and I didn’t have a clock in my bedroom upstairs. All I knew was the weekend was here, so I didn’t have to go back to Glen Tay School for another two days.

The whole house seemed gloomy. When I got to the bottom of the stairs, and opened the door, the living room was empty. Where was everybody?

old fashioned living room

The only room that seemed to be lit up in the old house was the kitchen, and as I walked through the living room, and got close enough to see, Mother was in full production, as usual.

Mother in the kitchen

She had the old aluminum meat grinder attached to the kitchen table, and had bags of flour and sugar, and boxes of baking soda and baking powder lined up along the edge.

Christmas cake ingredients

There were packages of raisins and candied pineapple, and currants and cherries, all over the top of the freezer, as though they were waiting their turn to go into the huge white ceramic mixing bowl. It looked as though some kind of dried fruit was making its way through the meat grinder, and dropping into one of the melamine bowls waiting below.

grinding fruit

“Can you run down to Cavanagh’s, and pick up some molasses for me?”, she said without looking up from the meat grinder. “I forgot to pick some up at the IGA last night, and I’ll need some for the Christmas cake.”

“Sure.”, I said, and picked up the three quarters that were already sitting there waiting for me, at the end of the table.

three quarters

I grabbed my blue corduroy jacket off of the hook, and headed outside. As soon as I opened the door the cold air hit me, and I remembered how the weather had been getting cooler and cooler these past weeks. It felt cold enough to snow, I thought to myself, and I picked up my old, red, battered bike, still lying on the same spot where I’d left it in the yard, the night before.

old red bike 2

Brrr. It felt even colder once I was on the bike and moving. The lane was downhill, and I coasted all the way onto the Third Line. I had a quick check for cars, and turned right, still coasting for a bit, then I began to pedal. Ugh, Heney’s dogs!, I thought. I needed a newer, faster bike, or a car, or a spaceship; something to get me past Heney’s faster.

As soon as I saw Conboy’s house, I pedaled like mad. I should have eaten breakfast first, I thought. I could use some energy.

I made it past Heney’s unscathed. They didn’t even come out barking that day. They must have been feeding them or something, I thought. Whew! That was easy.

I was moving pretty fast, and made it to Cavanagh’s in no time. Helen was working, and she pointed out the molasses, and asked how everyone was doing, just like she always did.

molasses

I paid for the molasses, and picked up my bike where I’d left it; propped up against the front entrance of the store.

cavanaghs-store-black-and-white-without-garage

Since it was Saturday, I decided that I’d take the long way home. I just didn’t feel like riding past Heney’s again and was sure those dogs would be back out on the road, full of food now, and ready to chase me up the Third Line.

I crossed the road and headed up Cameron’s side road. I passed S.S.# 4 school, and was heading up toward Calvin Church.

S S # 4 School for book

This part of the trip was a bit harder, as it was uphill all the way.

Calvin United Church December 20140001

I passed the church, then up the road a bit more, and turned right onto the Fourth Line. It wasn’t long until I was down near Calvin and Marion Jordan’s place, and I slowed down a bit, as I rounded the corner, and headed toward the railroad tracks.

Tracks back the side road0001

I glanced down into the ditches and spots where I could usually find some flowers to bring home for Mother, but there was no colour in the ditches that day, and even the cattails had gone to seed in the swamp and looked dirty,white and furry. I didn’t see anything worth bringing home for a bouquet.

cattails autumn

When I finally arrived back in the yard, I threw down my bike, and walked into the kitchen.  I could smell the cake batter as soon as I opened the door. The batter for the Christmas Cake was pinkish. I’m not sure why it was that colour; maybe it was juice from the cherries. Mother had saved the bowl for me to clean, and it was sitting on the edge of the table. Mother said she would add the molasses in with the ground fruit, and that sure worked for me. I loved cleaning out the cake batter bowls. This was my kind of breakfast!

cake batter bowl

I’m not sure why the Christmas Cake had to be made so early. Mother said it had to ‘ripen’ and I was never really sure what she meant by that. It wasn’t like a green banana, or one of the green apples from back in the orchard. Still, it was part of the process of making the cake each year, and there was no point in arguing.

dark fruit cake

No matter what the reason for making the Christmas Cake in what seemed like the drabbest, dreariest part of the year, I liked to think of it as kind of a light at the end of a tunnel. It was so grey and colourless outside. The bright leaves were lying, lifeless on the ground. The birds had left the yard. I couldn’t find one bright, pretty flower to bring Mother for a bouquet; not even a cattail. Nature seemed to be in limbo; not sure what to do next.

Creek behind the house0001

Making the Christmas cake was the first sign that the brightest season of the year was on its way. In just a matter of weeks we’d be celebrating Christmas. Bit by bit, in the days ahead, we’d be making progress on our preparations. The Christmas cards would be signed and addressed. Betty Miller and Frances Dixon would begin organizing the Christmas concert at Calvin Church, and we’d all have our parts to study, and new songs to learn.

Dad would be stringing the Christmas lights on the big spruce tree near the house, any day now. Soon, we would be strolling back into the bush to size up the possible candidates for the Christmas tree, that would grace the corner of our living room.

Before too long, pans of fudge would be prepared, and all sorts of cookies and squares would be baked and stored. Crepe paper streamers would be brought out of storage, and old decorations glued and repaired.

So the grey days, I concluded to myself, were days of preparation. These were the days when we would have time to spend getting ready for Christmas. They were the days when we wouldn’t be distracted by the bright sun, and green grass, to go outside and play, but would stay indoors, and stroke things off of our to-do lists.

In its wisdom, Nature had given us quiet, thoughtful days like these,to focus on the things to come, because Christmas would be upon us in no time at all.

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Granny Rutherford’s Dark Fruit Cake

(should be baked a few weeks ahead, and allowed to ripen before Christmas)

2 cups raisins

1 1/2 cups of cherries

1 cup currants

1 cup dates

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 cups seeded raisins

1 cup pecans

1 1/2 cups mixed dried fruit

1/2 cup candied pineapple

1/4 tsp. mace

1/2 tsp. ginger

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp salt

3 cups flour

1 cup butter

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp cloves

6 eggs

1/2 cup molasses

1/3 cup cold coffee

Mix fruit and nuts (may grind coarse or fine, as desired)

sift flour and spices and mix well

cream butter, and add sugar and eggs

Add dry ingredients

Bake at 300 degrees for 3 – 3 1/2 hours

………..

Allow to cool on baking racks

(double-wrap in plastic, then double-wrap in foil, and store in a cool dry place to ripen)

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Who was Granny Rutherford?

Dorothy Woolsey, born in Lincolnshire, England, was just sixteen years old when her mother Mary-Jane Foster Woolsey, passed away.  She often told the story of how they dyed her favourite red coat – black for her mother’s funeral.  In 1909 her father, William Woolsey, brought Dorothy and her siblings over to Canada, because his eldest daughter, Edith, had weak lungs, and the doctor advised him the air in Canada would be better for her.

Dorothy Woolsey Rutherford

Dorothy Woolsey at age 20, in 1914

They settled first in Winnipeg, and Dorothy’s older sister Florence, married, and moved to Saskatoon.  Dorothy went to visit, and she met a handsome young man named Charles Rutherford, a Mechanical Engineer, who came to Canada from St. Lawrence County, New York, to seek his fortune.  Dorothy and Charles fell in love, married, and settled in Edmonton, where their children Dorothea ‘Dolly’, Mildred ‘Mill’, Audry, Muriel, and Jack were born.

Mother and Granny Rutherford

Mother, (Audry Rutherford Stafford) age 18, with her mother, Dorothy Woolsey Rutherford, in front of their home in Edmonton in 1936.

Arlene Granny Mother

Arlene Stafford (Wilson), Granny Rutherford, and Audry (Rutherford) Stafford, 1967

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Christmas Cake recipe – in “Recipes and Recollections –  Treats and Tales From Our Mother’s Kitchen, available in local stores or online.  ISBN 978-0-9877026-0-9

recipes & recollections cover 1

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