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“their history was often lost…”

A while back, I browsed through the online collection of hooked rugs at the Textile Museum of Canada, and of course found some beauties. Above, you see a rug dated 1925-1935. The maker is unknown, but it was made of synthetic material on burlap, on Prince Edward Island.

The Textile Museum of Canada is in downtown Toronto, and happily, the searchable collection is online, too. My simple “hooked rug” search brought up over 250 rugs (with photos) for me. And I thought their brief description of hooked rugs was interesting:

Rug hooking is a unique North American tradition that arose in response to the need to cover the cold bare floors of pioneer homes. Weaving cloth required long hours at the spinning wheel and loom, but rugs could be made from scraps of fabrics and fibres that were pulled through a burlap base to produce warm floor-coverings to brighten the home. It is rare to find a hooked rug whose maker is known; unlike quilts, which were treasured family possessions, hooked rugs wore out and their history was often lost.

Here is another rug, made in Ontario, dated 1900-1930:

The museum presents rotating exhibitions, changed throughout the year, drawn from their collection of over 13,000 objects, and the work of local, national and international contemporary artists are featured, both at the museum and in touring exhibits. “This diverse collection includes fabrics, ceremonial cloths, garments, carpets, quilts and related artifacts which reflect the cultural and aesthetic significance that cloth has held over the centuries.”

Here is a sweet rug, dated 1900-1930, from the Niagara Peninsula of Ontario:

You can search the museum’s collection by technique (as I did) or by type (clothing, headwear, etc.), materials, region or time period. Here is a hooked rug from 1940-1960 (maker unknown, region unknown) that I admired – quite an intricate floral design:

And here is another floral, also intricately designed, from much earlier, in the 19th century (dated 1875-1900):

I would say “Road Trip!”, but Toronto is almost 8 hours drive east from Burlington, VT, or just north of Buffalo, NY, and that slows me right down. But when you have a minute, go to the website of the Textile Museum of Canada, and take an “armchair road trip” through the collection. Here is the link:

Oh, and once you get there, look around at other things in the collection beyond hooked rugs. The museum celebrates textiles from around the world, like this intriguing apron from Papua, New Guinea:

All photos courtesy of the Textile Museum of Canada.
Oh, okay, here is one more – you know how I love hit or miss rugs. This beauty was made in 1940, (yes, maker unknown) in Waterloo County, Ontario:


  • Mary Miller says:

    And you know I love the florals! Beautiful designs! Once again thanks for broadening my horizons.

  • Laura Salamy says:

    Thanks for sharing these pieces and especially the info for us to check out the museum pics ourselves.

  • Jeni says:

    Old rugs – my favorite! Thanks for the link. I love the Hit or Miss rug also. So many ideas, so little time.

    • Jeni says:

      Old rugs – my favorite! Thanks for the link. I love the Hit or Miss rug also. So many ideas, so little time.
      Second reply: Just had time to go through some of the collection. What a treasure this is, MaryJane. And what a treasure this Max Allen is/was ??? to donate all those rugs to the museum. More of us should do this, especially when our offspring doesn’t get too excited when we mention all the rugs they will inherit. What a good topic for a discussion: Should we make arrangements for our rugs before we pass? I know I would hate to see my rugs out by the side of the road. Or put in a garage sale for $25. (or less!) I have seen both of these “end of life for a hooked rug” happen. I know my rugs aren’t exactly treasures, but they do become part of us – our creations. What do you think?

  • Leah Karo says:

    already bookmarked the Textile Museum of Canada to my computer, thanks for the information!

  • Kathy says:

    Beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

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