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Thursday, March 1st 2001

The Hundred-Year-Old Trousseau

In 2001, members of the Lake Ainslie Weavers and Craft Guild opened an exhibit of The Hundred-Year-Old Trousseau at the Mary Black Gallery in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The trousseau was created for a fictitious young woman, Rachel Campbell, who was raised on a farm in East Lake Ainslie, Cape Breton. Viewers were asked to imagine being at the 1901 home of Mr. & Mrs. William Campbell, where Rachel and friends were gathered to admire her hope chest and trousseau. Over ninety items that would have been found in a bridal box were brought together to create this collection, including clothing, bedding and housewares. The most ambitious piece was the wedding dress. Guild members wove yardage of spun and reeled silk and then sewed a simple and elegant narrow waisted gown in the popular S-silhouette of the time.

A tremendous number of people contributed to the contents of the collection with pieces from all over Inverness County as well as from the United States and other Provinces of Canada. Changes in fashion have made it easy to decide not to spend time on handwork; our aim was to show that the skills of Rachel’s Cape Breton are still being practised today. The reason we know anything about the skills of our ancestors is community. Almost unanimously our contributing artists were introduced by a relation or friend to knitting, weaving, quilting or making lace. This community of people coming together to create and share and learn continues at the Scotsville School of Crafts.