Mystery Scrapbook

Sometimes there are mysteries in museum collections. This scrapbook contains woven samples of flax fibre sourced from small communities in four provinces.  In 1942 Mdme A. Martin from Riviere Ouelle, Quebec, received samples of flax from sixteen locations in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. She spun them all by hand and wove small swatches in plain, twill and reverse twill weaves.  These were gathered in a scrapbook which is now in the MCML collection.

The spine reads “FIBRE FLAX”

We have no other information about this scrapbook. No sense of why she did this, how the samples of flax were sent to her, and what anyone intended to do with the results.  It’s a mystery all round.

For the most part, the locations are small communities in rural areas. They include:

Manitoba: Fort Garry and Arborg

Twill Weave from Fort Garry shown below.

Saskatchewan: Nora, Big River, Norquay, Smeaton, Moose River, Canwood, Spiritwood, St. Walburg and Usherville

Plain weave from Nora shown below.

Alberta:  Fort Kent, Warspite, Maillaig, and Athabaska

Reverse Twill Weave from Fort Kent shown below.

British Columbia: Creston

Twill Weave from Creston shown below. It’s noted that the sample was washed after it was woven, something that appears on other pages too.

It’s an interesting item in the collection. Each sample is different from the others in colour and texture. It’s fascinating to see the variety that comes from just one type of raw material. But we are wondering how this woman from Quebec came to be involved in this project, and how the finished scrapbook then came back to Manitoba.

If anyone reading this knows about A. Martin from Riviere Ouelle, or anything about this flax project, please get in touch with us directly at [email protected] or 204.615.3951.

Prepared by Andrea Reichert, Curator