Festival of Textiles
( Lang Pioneer Village)
Festival of Textiles Re-visited
by Festival Nomad "Scoop" Correspondent, Judi McWilliams
Lang Pioneer Village is an awesome place to visit and their special events are always a lot of fun. To give variety, Lang alternates two special events, with the Fur Trade Reenactment taking place one year and the Festival of Textiles taking place the next year. 2011 featured the Festival of Textiles. This was an important year because the new Weaver Shop had just been completed and this was the “Grand Opening” of the "S.W. Lowry Weaver Shop" There was a short opening ceremony and then everyone was invited in to view the interior and the restored Jacquard Loom. Once the viewing and ceremonies were over, Judi and I wandered off to inspect the different village buildings and activities. If you have never been to Lang Pioneer Village, you have missed a great treat! Not only are the buildings fun to walk through and inspect, the staff and volunteers are always interesting to meet and talk to.
The Weaver Shop...
To give you further information about this amazing “Weaver Shop” we quote from Lang Pioneer Village’s website …. “There are few museums in Canada that can boast having a 19th-century Jacquard loom in their collection. The Jacquard Loom at Lang Pioneer Village was purchased by a young man named Samuel Lowry who was born in Warsaw, Ontario in 1862. He worked as a weaver in Warsaw from 1884 to 1888 then moved to Peterborough and established a business at 172 Hunter Street. His main products were carpets, flannel and horse blankets which were sold to clients from Lakefield to Hastings and Warkworth to Omemee. In 1887, his salary totalled $429.42 but by 1905 he couldn't compete with the large woollen mills in the area and went to work at the Toronto Carpet Company. Samuel returned to Peterborough in 1907 and continued weaving until 1909 when he headed west to seek a more profitable line of work. Lowry's collection of looms were left to his landlord, Mr. Buller, as payment for a $200 debt owed in back rent. They remained in the Buller family until 1967 when the looms and account books of Samuel were purchased at an auction sale by Mrs. John Moes (herself a Master Weaver) who later donated them to the Museum."
"In 2004, extensive restoration of the Lowry Jacquard loom was completed by Didier Schvartz, a master weaver who had handcrafted over 150 looms in his career. Mr. Schvartz conducted a meticulous restoration of the loom involving hundreds of hours of research to carefully maintain the authenticity of the artifact by using historically accurate materials. Although the loom has no marking he ascertained that it was originally built in Scotland due to its construction. The loom was manufactured for at-home use and is believed to have been built between 1840 and 1860. Beyond this date, Jacquards were manufactured specifically for factories to meet the demands of the Industrial Revolution. Mr. Schvartz discovered that that there were originally three Jacquard heads for the loom and that Samuel Lowry used one head to make repairs on the two that are remaining.
Mr. Schvartz has been in contact with manufacturers around the globe to obtain authentic materials for the restoration. For example, the string which will be used to thread the loom must be twisted and waxed for strength and longevity. Over 6 km of this string is required to create the 8,000 strings needed for the final looms. Mr. Schvartz located a company in Canada which manufactures this type of thread for motor windings and which meets the requirements of the loom. The brass eyelets needed for the loom heads were imported from Europe by Mr. Schvartz and are no longer being manufactured. Over 1,500 lingos (the lead weights that hold the thread in place) will be manufactured by a factory in Hamilton. The restoration project was made possible through the generosity of several organizations including $5,000 from the Sharon Nelson Memorial Fund, $5,000 from former Peterborough County Warden Neal Cathcart, $5,000 from former Peterborough County Warden Ron Gerow, $10,000 from the Community Futures Development Corporation as part of the Eastern Ontario Regional Development Initiative and $22,000 from the Chawkers Foundation.
The Chawkers Foundation was presented with the 2005 Charlotte Nicholls Award by the Peterborough Historical Society. The Charlotte Nicholls Award is presented to individuals or groups who make substantial financial donations for the preservation and/or recognition of important historic sites or artifacts in the Peterborough area. The work of Didier Schvartz in restoring the Samuel Lowry Jacquard loom was also formally acknowledged in this award. On June 10, 2005, Didier Schvartz was presented with a Peterborough County Heritage Preservation Award for his work in restoring the Lowry Jacquard Loom. This award is presented to an individual or group that makes a significant contribution in the promotion of heritage and the preservation of the history of Peterborough County. In January of 2010, Peterborough County Council approved funding for the completion of a new "S.W. Lowry Weaver Shop" to house the loom. The building was completed in June 2012 with the official opening ceremony taking place at the Museum's Festival of Textiles event on Saturday, August 18, 2011. The building is a reproduction of a late 19th century weaver's shop and will provide visitors with an opportunity to see the restored Lowry Jacquard Loom as well as a fully operational, reproduction Jacquard Loom. An exhibit/educational area will demonstrate the step-by-step process of how fleece from a sheep becomes a woven fabric. The completion of the exhibit and the harnessing of the two Jacquard Looms is currently underway. It will take several months to prepare the exhibit. The Museum is also preparing to launch two new educational programs designed around the Jacquard Looms once the looms are up and running."
Festival of Textiles
by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams
The Fashion Show
Yes, we were returning once again to Lang Pioneer Village. This time not so much as observers but as “willing” participants. The occasion was the “Festivals of Textiles” as we were going to get “all dressed up” and walk the “fashion show” stage. Laurie Siblock, the event coordinator had contacted up earlier to ask if we would be interested in participating. At first we were reluctant, but soon the idea caught hold and we whole heartedly agreed! The great thing about Laurie and Lang Pioneer Village is that they are very organized! When we arrived at the village we were directed to our area where other participants were waiting. Once we had all assembled, Laurie and the costumer explained the clothing we would be wearing and displaying and how the fashion show would work. From the meeting we all disbursed to the changing rooms to don our outfits. Judi emerged first in a long flowing gown with complete bustle and parasol! She looked great, straight from the past! My outfit was also very interesting! Fortunately everything fit except that I had a little trouble with the boots! I needed help to get them on and after the show, to get them off. All that being said, I felt pretty comfortable in the clothes! It’s amazing how changing into period clothing can bring the “ham” out in a person. Once we were all dressed, we re-assembled near the shows stage. Since the name and theme of the fashion show was “The Evolution of Fashion”, we all lined up from earliest creations to turn of the century. My costume, and Judi’s, were near the beginning of the show. We each, in turn, walked onto the stage (as directed) while the commentator described what we were wearing. As we stood on the stage cameras clicked And flashed! It was interesting to say the least to be on “the other side” of the cameras. It was a “heady” experience. After the show was over, we all lined up on stage for a group photo! We stayed in costume for some time, but it was a very hot day and we finally relented and changed into our regular clothing. As with all Lang Pioneer Village events, all the buildings were opened and manned so there was plenty to see and do!
Our “hats-off” to Laurie and the whole Village staff for their organization and enthusiasm. If anyone is interested in re-enacting and living history, I would definitely recommend this experience! The Festival of Textiles was another great Lang Pioneer Village event!