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A Happy Hooker – As I learn the traditional skills of rug hooking.

Sir Doctor Wilfred Grenfell, a visionary for the Great Northern Peninsula and Labrador instilled in others the opportunity for greater economic development. A visit to the Grenfell Interpretation Centre in St. Anthony illustrates many hand hooked rugs on the walls, as well as available at the gift shop. A video played notes that women should send their stockings to Labrador. This would allow the material to be recycled and hooked into rugs.

I enrolled four weeks ago into the basic mat hooking course, offered by the College of the North Atlantic, St. Anthony Campus at my local high school, which is 10 minutes from where I lived. I have a love for life-long learning, especially skills that stemmed from necessity.

The class has eleven people registered. Most are nearing retirement or are retired, some are even senior citizens. It is quite safe to say, all are older than myself with the exception of our instructor. Ms. Gaulton, a graduate of the CNA Textile studies program learnt the rug hooking process and continues to create her own unique designs. Youth like Ms. Gaulton will continue to inspire others to learn, be creative and retain elements of local culture.

Rug hooking is no longer a necessity, as it was in the past. I was told by a co-worker, women would hook rugs out of potato sacks to place by bedside to protect their feet from the chilling cold of winter. They did not have a choice not to have these skills.  Those with a high skill-level were also able to sell to the International Grenfell Association, a specialty designed rug. A visit to a Personal Care Home in Flower’s Cove brought back memories for some residents who proudly say they hooked mats for Grenfell Handicrafts. Today the definite loss to preserve our culture is more and more evident. I am curious as to why did our parent’s generation not continue to practise such a useful skill? Most did not have large families, what consumed their time? Did our parents just become victims of mass consumerism and not producers? This inability to pass on tradition has a domino effect on the future generations. Typically, one learns from a parent, guardian or close relative various skills during childhood. These generational gaps, without proper bridging will see many skills lost in the near future.

There is interest in the revival of this tradition as I continue to tell people of my enrollment, which to my excitement,  includes youth. The interest grows knowing that the course is offered in their own community. General interest courses offered at satellite locations can create an environment to learn and continue on an individual or group setting after the last class is over.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore


Opportunity to Hook: Mat/Rug Hooking Training

Grenfell Hooked Rugs

Dr. Wilfred Grenfell, founder of the International Grenfell Mission supported economic development on the Great Northern Peninsula and Labrador. He organized co-ops, especially for local women to help supplement fishing or other incomes from spouses. A visit to Grenfell Historic Properties this summer outlined a quote of the Doctor, asking people to “send your stockings to Labrador”. The women would then take the silks and use them to produce mats or rugs to sale. Some residents today continue with this tradition  and realize an opportunity to preserve tradition, generate revenues and expand your skills.

The College of the North Atlantic, St. Anthony, is interested in offering part-time evening Mat/Rug classes in the Flower’s Cove area.

They are attempting to determine the level of interest. Sufficient enrolment required in order for classes to commence.

To express an interest or to obtain more information, please contact Joan Kinden at 709 457 2719 or Sabrina Gaulton at 709 456 2834.

This is a great opportunity for residents of this region to learn a unique talent, make product or gifts that is one of a kind to pass on to family, friends or others locally and across the globe.

Live Rural NL – Christopher Mitchelmore

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