To celebrate, Canada’s 150th anniversary will be the theme for this year's Block of the Month. All year, we’ll be exploring Canada’s history and celebrating our pride in our nation. Join us in making some or all of the blocks that we will be sharing this year. You could use the blocks to make your own Canada 150 quilt, or maybe you can try some of these blocks that are new to you.
Each month will also contain a bit of history, so you can learn about Canada as you quilt!
For September, the block is the Canada Star. Barbara Brackman* created a beautiful 9-patch variation in honour of Lucie Blackburn, an African-American woman who travelled across the Canada-US border in 1833 into the relative safety of Upper Canada (Ontario).
Slavery in Canada
During the early 1600s through the early 1800s, blacks lived as slaves in much of Canada, from BC to Nova Scotia. While slavery was abolished in Upper Canada in 1791, it wasn’t until August 1, 1834 (Emancipation Day – same day as Simcoe Day, the popular August long-weekend holiday) that the British Parliament passed a law abolishing slavery in all British North American colonies. Slavery continued to be legal in parts of the US until abolition in 1865.
Canada was a symbol of hope for many slaves hoping to make the dangerous journey to freedom. Canada was marked as the “North Star” on quilts that mapped routes to the “Promised Land.”
With help from abolitionists including Harriet Tubman, many black slaves sought refuge in Canada in the Underground Railroad Movement, between 1830 and 1865. By the time of the US Civil War, some 35,000 fugitives had found freedom in Canada. After abolition, many former slaves returned to the US while others, like Lucie Blackburn, built a life in Toronto and prospered.
The Canada Star Block
This month’s block is a pieced 12” block. There were samples shown in the September meeting. Please talk to Sherri if you would like to see them again.
You can read more about Lucie Blackburn’s story including her life in Toronto on Barbara’s blog, which also features this pretty block and instructions on construction (scroll down to the bottom):
* Barbara is a renowned quilt historian and amazing quilt-maker in her own right and has given permission for us to use her pretty block for this month’s program. You may have seen Barbara’s contributions in American Patchwork & Quilting – she provided a historical context for each of the blocks used in the latest issue of the magazine. She is also a prolific author of quilt books including from 2012, “Barbara Brackman’s Civil War Sampler: 50 Quilt Blocks with Stories from History”.