by Betty Bardswich
MINDEMOYA—A large number of the Island Quilters Guild members attended the May membership meeting at the Community Hall in Mindemoya and welcomed guest speaker Jill Thorpe.
Guild president Pat Pepper opened the meeting and asked former president Myra Tallman to introduce Ms. Thorpe, who had lived on Manitoulin and was an early member of the society, but now calls Stratford home. Ms. Tallman told the audience that she had carpooled with Ms. Thorpe in the early days and the two of them had quilted together saying, “Jill is a very accomplished sewing person also.”
Ms. Thorpe began the Trunk Show by talking of the roots that led to her passion for quilting. “Both my grandmothers made quilts,” she explained, “and one supported her family with quilts during the Depression. I think I have been sewing all my life, beginning with sewing outfits for my dolls. I worked at Fabric Land in Stratford and I wanted to take fashion design at Ryerson College, but could not get a degree there.” Ms. Thorpe then went to university and teacher’s college and ended up in British Columbia where she taught school and got married. But there were no quilts to be seen in that area, so she cut four-inch squares from material and made more quilts. After some time, Ms. Thorpe’s husband asked her if she wanted to move back to Ontario and the family ended up in Sheguiandah. “And then there I was,” she said, “in a room with women surrounded by quilts with a warm welcome and another quilt was made.”
As Ms. Thorpe continued her talk, members of the guild held up various quilts she had made over the years, beginning with a honeybun child’s bedcover she had made for her son who is now 33. As she talked, large quilts were shown, one after another, and wall hangings and a skirt made from her squares. In talking about the skirt, to the delight of the audience, Ms. Thorpe said, “I was teaching at CMPS and I was wearing this skirt one day and was in the school yard, when a kid came up to me and said, ‘Mrs. Thorpe, why are you wearing a tablecloth?”
Ms. Thorpe moved to Mindemoya and she was making a ‘big boy’ quilt for her son, but still there were no quilt stores, until, one day, to her joy, Wool ‘n Things opened.
Two of the quilts that Ms. Thorpe made were for her parents and her in-laws. The first was a Golden Doubly Wedding Ring for the 50th wedding anniversary of her parents, complete with a wedding picture on the back. This quilt won the best in show at the Providence Bay Fair and was the first time she had entered a quilt in competition. Over the years, she has won the Grand Champion quilter many times at this event. And a beautiful quilt of different flowers was accepted into an Ontario juried show and was shown at the Royal Ontario Museum. She has also been commissioned to make a quilt for Emmanuel United Church in Sebringville for its celebration of 175 years and had one of her quilts auctioned off to benefit the World Festival of Children’s Theatre which was held in Stratford.
Elections were also held at the Guild meeting with Kathy Grant taking on the role of president, Brenda Pakkala as vice president, with Cathy Jeffery as treasurer and Judy Brown as secretary, maintaining their positions. The last meeting before September will be held June 9 with a dinner for members at Garden’s Gate.