Hookers delve into the history of early Métis design

The ladies of the Saugeen Rug Hooking Guild of Ontario, who work out of the Chantry Centre 50+ in Southampton, recently embarked on a project to not only learn more about Métis art but to also create unique individual pieces based on Métis designs.

Founders Sybil Mercer (front C)) and Vicki Pickup (2nd L) and The ladies of the Hookers Guild with their unique                                             Métis works  –   For larger view, Click on Image

With the assistance of Jenna Maguire, Executive Director of the Historic Saugeen Métis Centre and Museum in Southampton, each ‘hooker’ worked from authentic indigenous patterns that Maguire created.

From floral patterns to geometric designs based on historic indigenous art, they were able to create individual works that have been on display at the Chantry Centre on Grey Street.

Past-president, Sybil Mercer, who initiated the idea says that it probably took each of the women 20 hours or more to create their individual pieces.  “It’s always especially interesting to try something new and, at the same time learn about history, especially of the indigenous peoples who first settled here.”

Jenna Maguire

Maguire, the descendant of historical Métis figure Angelique Longe (a.k.a. Aunt Annie) born in 1844, now lives in Annie’s home, the oldest in Southampton.

“There is a great deal of symbolism in the designs of the Métis beadwork,” says Maguire, who teaches the beading art form.  “Even the placement of a single bead or a colour used can have meaning.”

“Métis Joseph Longe III, who lived from 1843 – 1900, for instance, created beaded belts for his two daughters, Mary Henriette and Frances Ena, in the traditional Métis artistry,” pointed out Maguire, “where each symbol has a meaning.”  The family subsequently donated the belts to the Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre in 1965. (Photos of belts provided by BCMCC).  Symbols in the belts were incorporated in the patterns for the Hookers’ Guild project.

The Hookers’ Guild out of the Chantry Centre 50+ are also celebrating their 30th anniversary this year. “We are always looking for new projects and we are now creating 30 individual pieces that will tell the history of Southampton in celebration of our 30 years,” says Mercer.  “We then plan to join them all together to create a unique wall hanging.”

The group of experienced hookers are only too happy to coach and encourage those who want to join in and learn to create works of art rugs and wall hangings using recycled materials or purchased wool from ready-made patterns or those who want to try to create their own.

For more information, contact Sybil Mercer at 519-797-5337.