'Their families should know': 1930s yard sale find in B.C. has woman searching for Saskatchewan connections

·2 min read

Wendy Morton was at a friend's yard sale in Barriere, B.C., a couple of summers ago when she spied 24 quilt blocks and bought them.

"They were hand-embroidered blocks done on what looks like the fabric from sugar sacks, and then all are put onto pink fabric,'' Morton said.

"They are beautiful, brightly coloured with embroidered flowers and birds, and they are old, really old."

Her friend didn't recall how she got them, but suspectst she purchased them at a yard sale sometime earlier.

The embroidered squares were likely meant to be sewn together to create a quilt, but for all those years stayed separate a collection of 25 by 25 cm (10 by 10 inch) blocks.

Vintage quilt blocks

Morton said the blocks were signed and dated. They were made between 1937 and 1939.

Of the 24 squares, 22 of them were made by women living in Saskatchewan. The other two were made by women living in Alberta.

Most are from the Yorkton, Sask., area, including the communities of Stenen, Veregin, Hyas, Ormside and Tiny.

Morton thinks they may have been made by a church group, but how they got from Saskatchewan to Barriere, B.C. —which is near Kamloops — remains a mystery.

Morton collects vintage lace and fabric for scrap booking and other craft projects. She said she felt it just wasn't right to repurpose these blocks, so instead she's decided to try to send them home.

"It would mean so much for me if someone did that for something my grandma or great-grandma made, so I thought, it would mean so much to someone else," said Morton.

"These women did such beautiful work and for it to last this long, I think their families should know about it."

Online search

She turned to Facebook and joined pages from communities near the aforementioned towns. She said the response has been great.

In a short time, Morton has managed to send seven of the blocks back to the families connected to the name on the quilt block. She said most have been sent back to Saskatchewan, but one has gone to Alberta, one to Ontario, and a woman from Newfoundland also inquired.

Morton said she is making new friends, who are grateful to have a connection to something their grandmother or great-grandmother made.

"Many of the Facebook posts begin, 'As I type this up, I'm crying,'" she said. "It's a part of history that you don't really think about a lot. What those women went through and all the hard work they did, and yet they could produce these beautiful pieces of art."

She said that she'll continue her search, and if she has any blocks left when she's done, she'll consider offering them to an area museum.