Barn quilts adorning Stewiacke Valley

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By LYNN CURWIN

[Stewiacke Valley, NS] – Barns in the Stewiacke Valley (Nova Scotia) are catching people’s eyes with the addition of bright new barn quilts to their walls.

© (Photo: Submitted to the Truro Daily News) Residents from the Stewiacke Valley, Nova Scotia were instrumental in getting some barn quilts installed, thanks to the spearheading by Trudi Dickie O’Connell. Supplies were donated for the project, with local youth also helping paint the pieces.
© (Photo: Submitted to the Truro Daily News) Residents from the Stewiacke Valley, Nova Scotia were instrumental in getting some barn quilts installed, thanks to the spearheading by Trudi Dickie O’Connell. Supplies were donated for the project, with local youth also helping paint the pieces.
These quilts are not made from fabric, but created from wood and paint.

“This is something that was started in 2001 in the U.S. by a woman named Donna Sue Groves,” said Trudi Dickie O’Connell, who came up with the idea for a local barn quilt trail. “The idea is to promote quilts and rural art, bringing things out where people can see them.”

Dickie O’Connell, who was taught fabric quilting by her grandmother, saw photos and information about the barn quilt trail movement and felt inspired to create a quilt herself. After making a small one she decided to contact an organization in Ontario, where there are now 12 trails, for information.

“The folks in Ontario were very helpful,” she said. “There is a lot of information on their website and they gave me a lot of advice.”

Wanting to get young people involved, she asked children in elementary school to nominate old barns and find out information about them. She also approached community organizations. There were 18 nominations and the historical society was asked to narrow it down to 15.

“We wanted old barns and aimed for paved roads because tourists are more likely to travel on those. Of those chosen, only one person declined.”

Barn owners were asked to choose a pattern for their quilt, with the only requirement being that it had straight lines. Some people chose reproductions of fabric quilts in their family, one chose a design with a donkey because they have a donkey who guards their sheep, one chose a horse design because they have horses, one chose tulips because of their Dutch heritage and one chose a hummingbird simply because they like them.

Local businesses donated paint, brushes, wood for framing and washers, and youth from the area helped with painting. Another local man with equipment volunteered to hang the barn quilts.

“It ended up costing $1,500 instead of $7,500,” said Dickie O’Connell. “We have 15 painted and 10 hung so far. We hope to have them all up by August 8 for the Firemen’s Picnic.”

A trail usually has quilts so she has applied for grants and if the comes in 15 more will be created next summer.

“I think we will stay within the Stewiacke Valley but I would love to see them all over Nova Scotia,” she added. “If anyone else is interested in doing this I have no problem helping them get started.”

Truro Daily News

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