2014 marks 100 years since the beginning of WWI and there will undoubtedly be many events commemorating this terrible war in the next few years. In particular, Canadians will be marking the battle of Vimy Ridge (fought in 1917) for many consider it the beginning of Canada’s true nationhood.
Wikipedia has a brief description: “The Battle of Vimy Ridge was the first occasion whereupon all four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force participated in a battle as a cohesive formation, and thus became a Canadian nationalistic symbol of achievement and sacrifice. France ceded to Canada perpetual use of a portion of land on Vimy Ridge under the understanding that the Canadians use the land to establish a battlefield park and memorial. Wartime tunnels, trenches, craters and unexploded munitions still honeycomb the grounds of the site, which remains largely closed off for reasons of public safety. Along with preserved trench lines, there are a number of other memorials and cemeteries contained within the site.”
One of the statues is called Mother Canada, or Canada Bereft and represents the nation of Canada mourning her dead. (3,600 Canadian soldiers died at Vimy Ridge)
You might well ask…What has this to do with rug hooking? Let me back up and tell you what happened. I was taking photos of people’s work at our meeting on Tuesday, and came to Ann Hallett, who had two piles of wool in front of her she had obviously been cutting by hand. What are you working on Ann I asked? She proceeded to pull out her “just started” piece and ended up speaking about it to the whole amazed group.
I’m hooking a tribute to Vimy Ridge she told us. My grandfather was killed there you know!
…and what a poignant story…..
Her grandfather had written a letter to his wife shortly before the battle, and tucked it in his pocket. The letter was found on his body, and sent to his wife, who received it two weeks after learning of his death.
As Ann read the letter, there was hardly a dry eye in the room.
…and as if that weren’t significant enough, she is hooking the whole piece using ” used stump socks” from the Canadian army. (woolen socks used to cover and protect the ‘stumps ‘ of amputated limbs) They are 100% wool in order to absorb any moisture from the stump, and to keep it warm.
They come in various sizes and she dyes them as needed. then hand cuts them for hooking. (cross ways as you do when hooking nylons)
This is the template she used for the two towers, depicting Canada and France.
…and she drew Canada Bereft on a mylar sheet for transfer to the backing…
She has just recently learned that she is actually holding lilies in her right hand that is hanging down, so she’ll adjust the pattern to include them.
When completed, this wonderful tribute will hang in Saint James Cathedral in Toronto. A moving tribute to such an important part of Canadian history, created by a dedicated and talented Canadian fiber artist.
I’ll keep you updated on its progress.