Canadian Rocky Mountains Quilting Tour
The Canadian Rocky Mountains are majestic, awe-inspiring wonders of nature and on most people’s bucket list. But among the snow-capped peaks are other wonders for quilters.
By Sue Dennis, Photography by Bob Dennis
Most of the popular tourist towns in the Canadian Rockies have a quilting shop tucked away in a side street, not too far from the main tourist souvenir shops, and what better way to remember a holiday than to collect a piece or two of fabric from each one!
Here, the natural world of fauna and flora is celebrated in cloth and most of the stores will have a section dedicated to their local wild animals, which often freely roam the streets.
Have a look at our similar Starry Medallion Quilt!
We travelled to the Rockies by the Rocky Mountaineer train and based ourselves in the well-known town of Banff for a few days, hiring a car and driving around to various sights in Banff National Park.
Not far from Banff is the lovely mountain town of Canmore, home to The Sugar Pine Company quilt shop and gift store. When we arrived it was undergoing extensions to the wrap-around verandah on the second floor to increase the shop area. Packed with 8000-plus bolts of fabric neatly arranged into themed sections, it was a joy to wander around and see the work of local designers. Quilts depicting Canadian scenery and animals graced the walls.
Leah and Dean Murphy have been the owners for 22 years. It was easy to see how popular quilting is in the area with locals and tourists alike. Being situated close to Calgary is also a bonus for the store and I met a visiting quilter from Melbourne who was holidaying with her sister from Calgary.
Spotting wildlife in the national park was a favourite pastime for us, as well as admiring the craggy peaks and following the geologic story in the rocks. Canadian friends Doug and Elaine Ransom, whom we had met in Mt Isa many years ago, had invited us to stay with them. Elaine is a keen gardener and embroiderer, often winning prizes at local shows. She has also turned to quilting and we swapped seasonal blocks after her return to Cranbrook British Columbia.
Recreate this look with our Four Seasons Quilt!
While preparing for our trip I found a quilt in my cupboard with a label saying “for Elaine, 1997”. Thinking I had not posted this to her, I packed it in my suitcase, only to discover that she had the exact same quilt at her house! Apparently I made two — one for Elaine and one for me as a keepsake! We rolled around laughing about my confusion.
Sometimes just stumbling across discoveries is more exciting than pre-planning stops. This was the case in the town of Grand Forks, which sits at the confluence of the Kettle and Granby Rivers. The area was settled by Russian Doukhobor immigrants in the early 1900s and they continue to be vital in the agricultural life of the region. We enjoyed a typical borscht bowl lunch at a local cafe.
Can’t go wrong with a bit of nautical, check out our Whale Quilt!
Later as we were driving out of town I spotted a quilt shop sign which we followed to Caba’s Quilting Cottage. There were two deer grazing on the lawn outside the cottage entry! In a converted garage, Florence Vatkin first opened her dance costume shop business. Fifteen years ago she discovered quilting and now the small interior is stocked with supplies.
Quilter Joanne Fisette offered us wonderful hospitality for two days at her home with a lake view, in the middle of the wine-producing area of West Kelowna. I loved seeing Joanne’s beautiful quilts, inspired by the local landscape and often in her favourite blue hues. Nearby was Tyjo’s Fabrics, owned by Sherry Ellis, who had many choices for wool appliqué. A local producer supplies the hand-dyed and -felted wool. Beautiful threads from The Thread Gatherer were also part of the shop’s attraction.
If you are leaving British Columbia via Vancouver and still have room in your luggage for another piece of fabric, The Cloth Shop on Granville Island, tucked around the back of a souvenir outlet, beside Rogers Chocolates, is worth visiting. Here I also discovered that if you need to ship your fabrics home, no provincial tax applies.
Canada certainly proved to be full of wonders, both natural and of the quilt variety.
Sue Dennis www.suedennis.com
The Sugar Pine Company www.thesugarpine.com
Canadian Quilters’ Association www.canadianquilter.com
Joanne Fisette www.joannefisette.com
Tyjo’s Fabrics www.tyjos.com
The Thread Gatherer www.threadgatherer.com
The Cloth Shop www.theclothshop.com