The history of the people of Toronto starts with the original inhabitants who were Mohawk Indians. The bodies are stitched in long and short stitch and the hair is straight stitching. Elsewhere in the frieze, the stitches are predominantly split and stem stitch. These were found to be the most appropriate choice.
The frieze was divided into fifteen sections each of which was mounted on a wooden frame made specifically to the needed measurements. A member of the Guild would take a frame home together with all the threads needed for one of the figures and bring it back completed two weeks later. It then went to another member to stitch the next figure. With 96 figures in total, it grew slowly. Susan Clinesmith was in charge of all the work on the frieze.
In the above section of the frieze, the trees are being cleared for the construction of Yonge Street. Built by Governor Simcoe and named for a friend, it was the longest street in the world. It runs from Lake Ontario, 56 miles north to Lake Simcoe. The longest street in the world is now acknowledged to be the Trans Canada Highway which is almost 5000 miles long from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland.
Photos do not age well unlike the Embroidery which is in excellent condition. It has been a puzzle to transpose the 40-year-old photos to this blog. The originals are all high quality which has helped. But the quality and detail have been reduced by the process of screenshots.
The positive aspect of this is that you are having a ‘behind the scenes’ look at what was involved in creating the Embroidery.
Here are some ladies working on the frames of the frieze. Basements and dens were commandeered for working areas. The members met and stitched on a regular basis. For some, it was daily, for others, once a week. Some preferred to stitch in their own homes. We all became very well acquainted!
The tree trunks were stitched with chain stitch and fly stitch was used for the leaves. The divisions of the frieze were organised to occur within the body of a tree which concealed the seam.
The war of 1812. The flags and uniforms are correct for the date. The researchers made sure these details. I stitched the Union Jack and I remember how careful I was that it was correct.
To be continued, More about the stitching of the frieze.
Susan M. Knight says
I am so pleased you are highlighting the Toronto Embroidery. I have seen it many times, but as there are a number in Britain and the famous Bayeaux Tapestry, I don’t think many people were aware that Toronto had one. Keep up your wonderful work.
Ann Bernard says
Susan, Thank you for your comment and I am delighted that you have been to see the Toronto Historical Embroidery not once, but several times. The design is professional and unique. The stitching is excellent and it is standing the test of time well. I hope that more people will be aware of its existence and will go to see it. It is well worth the effort. it is easy to locate when you know where to look. Ann