Crossroads of Culture 200 Years of Canadian Immigration (1800-2000)
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Arts and Crafts

The residents of New France, both in Acadia and Québec, are known for their craftsmanship in designing and making wooden furniture by hand. Also noteworthy is their legacy of hooked-rug making, weaving and lace patterning. British North Americans enjoy a historical reputation for their watercolour paintings and quilting*. Europeans who arrived as immigrants in the last century brought scores of old-country materials, methods and techniques, particularly in the areas of fabric arts and ceramics**. More recently, Asians have contributed silk products, precious jewellery, and carvings in wood and stone done in homeland motifs.

Our museums are filled with the fine, decorative and applied arts of newly arrived citizens or sojourners. Among the items to look for are salt-glazed clay pots excavated from east coast sites such as Louisbourg or 1920s handmade moulds from the Alberta-based Medalta Potteries.

Famous among collectors are late-nineteenth-century British earthenware plates illustrated with Canadian scenes. Other prized items include decorated Easter eggs made by Ukrainian immigrant women, or finely embroidered furniture coverings and other needlework produced for their own households or local sale by Irish, Jewish, Dutch, Belgian, German and Polish women, as well as other women of northern European origin.

Of special importance to architecture and home furnishings was the international Arts and Crafts Movement of the 1890s to 1910s, which originated in England. It was an attempt to incorporate decorative and applied art into the objects of everyday life. Over the past three generations, antiquarians and anthropologists in Quebec have located, recorded and preserved a wealth of folk art. Similar efforts have been made more recently on the Prairies and in Atlantic Canada, with very praiseworthy results.

If you are interested in reading the testimonies of recent immigrants to Canada please connect to the "What Canada means to you" section of the Passages to Canada site.

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