To celebrate that fact, Canada's largest textile project was undertaken.
The result is a very special quilt called The Quilt of Belonging. The idea of visual artist, Esther Bryan, to celebrate the Millennium in 2000, the quilt took 6 years to complete. It includes 263 blocks each hand worked and each representing every nation of the world and the First Peoples of Canada. Hundreds of volunteers worked many hours piecing the blocks together and fashioning them inside the maple leaf motif that frames the whole quilt.
I, like over a million others, have had the special pleasure of viewing this quilt as it tours North America. At 120 feet long, it is too much to take in all at once; you need multiple visits. It is roped off so there is no touching and many quilters bring their binoculars so they can view each block close up. The workmanship and variety of materials used to fashion each block is fascinating.
This quilt is of special interest to all needle artists. Beading, applique, patchwork, and all forms of embroidery are represented in the various blocks. In particular I was surprised and pleased by how many stitchers had used cross stitching to represent the emblems of their country. Whatever method was used, they each looked like tiny masterpieces to me.
Here is a brief sampling of the quilt blocks.
This is the block representing England and it is a beautifully embroidered flower arrangement typical of an English country garden.
A pretty block incorporating items symbolic of the Metis
The beautifully embroidered block above for Australia incorporates some of the flora and fauna of that continent.
The Danish block incorporating cross stitch and pulled thread embroidery...
The block for Scotland...the tartans, thistle and heather
I tried to grab a photo of the block for the United States but could only get a too fuzzy image. It is a patchwork log cabin design with cross stitch lettering surrounding it and is worked in red, white and blue.
There is a beautiful book available with each block highlighted, the embroiderer, and methods used. It is very interesting and inspirational especially for those making their own designs. You can buy a used copy from Amazon for as little as $10.00.
A wonderful Youtube video is available where Esther talks about the project and she explains her choices for backgrounds, shapes and colours as well as what the contribution she hopes the quilt tours are making. A link is HERE
There is a web site for this quilt and the schedule for tour dates is listed. You can get a close-up look at each of the blocks on that site as well.
If you have the opportunity, don't miss out on seeing this spectacular quilt.
The link to the website is HERE