The Orangemen’s Quilt
by Linda Butler
This quilt was made by Jane Turner, circa 1916. Jane was born in 1880 and lived in Minnedosa, Manitoba. She never married, and remained on the farm with her parents and assisted in the farm operation. She was an accomplished quilter.
The Turner family was Protestant and belonged to the Orangemen’s Organization, a group which promoted Protestant values. Jane used their colors when she made this quilt and through the vibrant colors gave expression to her strong religious beliefs.
Jane’s niece, Myrtle Forsyth, daughter of Emily (Turner) Vance Jackman, recalls this quilt on her grandparents’ bed at their fiftieth wedding anniversary in 1926. She believed that the quilt was ten years old at that time.
Jane’s parents both died in 1927 and she was left to manage the farm. She remained on the homestead until 1929 or 1930, at the start of the Depression, then gave up the farm and worked as a housekeeper. She died in the early 1930s.
The quilt passed to our grandmother Emily, a younger sister. Emily’s life was also difficult as she lost her first husband in a farming accident. She remarried, and in the early 1940s moved to Rosedale, British Columbia with her second husband, Wes, bringing the quilt with her.
Emily was also an accomplished quilter, and worked tirelessly to make quilts for her grandchildren, but throughout the years, the Orangemen’s Quilt remained folded in her closet, and was displayed only for special occasions.
In 1963, Emily passed the quilt to her granddaughter, Linda Vance (Butler). The quilt was displayed on her parents bed on occasion, but when Linda married in 1968, the quilt went with her and was again stored.
In the 1980s the quilt was displayed as part of the BC Heritage Quilt Project and a casing was sewn across one end at the back for a wooden rod, to hang it. The design at that time was identified as “Feathered Star”.
There are a couple small patches on the quilt that were sewn on by Linda, around the time that her Grandmother gave it to her.
In 2006, the quilt was donated to the Minnedosa Museum. If this quilt was made circa 1916, it is now approximately one hundred years old. We are fortunate that it is now in the hands of the museum for preservation.
Description of Quilt: Approx size is 91 inches x 71 inches. The red block is 8 ½ x 8 ½. The blue and white border is 1 ½ inches. Diamond square is 13 ½ x 12 (with red diamond in center). The design in the corners is different. There is folklore that suggests that there should always be an error in the design* and this might explain the different corners.
(*Note from cousin Chris: this “error” was commonly incorporated into past quilts and perhaps other handwork as a form of respect toward the Divine Creator. An elderly friend back in Ontario, an avid quilter, told me that women of old always made one small “mistake” in deference to the fact that only God could create something perfect.)