Barn quilts in South Glengarry
These three examples of barn quilts were on display at Lou Lou Lavender during their 2020 u-pick lavender season. They were created by South Glengarry artist, Cathy Major. Staff photo

VERNON – The phrase “barn quilts” may conjure up images of quilted fabric of different styles of barns, but really, it is something completely different. While these wooden quilt squares are part of the folk art heritage of rural North America, this art form has seen a resurgence. Rural barn quilts have a long history in North America, while barn quilts have been seen throughout rural areas in North America for decades, this art form has become part of the agritourism sector; as Barn Quilt Trails are developed in many areas of Canada and the United States.

Jillian Jordan, executive director of the Osgoode Township Museum (OTM), in a press release dated May 6, announced the Rural Ottawa Barn Quilt Trail project. This project, designed to showcase “rural Ottawa South’s rural landscape and its communities” began as a way “to engage community members and bring visitors to our community while maintaining physical distancing” during the Covid-19 pandemic and into the future.

Jordan explained the project is accepting barn quilt submissions between May 6 to Sept. 30 of this year from “families, farm owners and agricultural businesses as a way to celebrate our rural heritage.” She stressed how they will become “a permanent part of our landscape” and will assist in the expansion of cultural tourism in the area and assist in the building of community pride.

For those who are wondering exactly what a barn quilt is, Jordan described it as a piece of wood “that’s been painted to look like a quilt square.” There is no set design for the wooden square, with the artist able to incorporate their own creative designs into the work of art. She continues how these folk art pieces are able to tell the stories of rural life, their family history or as a promotional piece.

When asked about the community’s response to the call for submissions, Jordan explained five families have registered “in both the barn and home streams of the project.” She stressed how, although there is a Sept. 30 deadline, submissions will be accepted after that date, with a goal to having the interactive online trail ready for early November; visitors will be able to download the map and travel the trail.  More information and registration forms are available at the organization’s website, www.osgoodemuseum.ca.

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