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Family friendly fun in Blyth

28 Jul
Brodie Nesbitt, 10, sold railway spikes to raise money for a 4-wheeler.

Brodie Nesbitt, 10, sold railway spikes to raise money for a 4-wheeler at the Blyth Streetfest this past weekend. Photos by Shari Parsons.

By Diva Shari Parsons

BLYTH – It was with some nervous excitement that I set out Saturday afternoon for my first assignment as an Ontario Travel Diva, which was to report on the Blyth Streetfest. After reading a number of the other Diva’s posts, I felt that I had some pretty big shoes to fill.

Blyth is a picturesque village about 27 kms east of Goderich. From Goderich, it is an easy and relaxing drive along Blyth Rd. 25 through rolling countryside dotted with farm fields reminiscent of Gramma’s crazy quilts.

Once in Blyth, I found a shady parking spot beside the Blyth Public School and then walked two short blocks to Queen Street where all the action was to take place. As I approached, I could hear the skirl of bagpipes and the rat-a-tat-tat and boom-boom of the Brussels Legion Pipe Band. I arrived shortly after the noon start time and a number of the vendors were still in the process of setting up their booths. This gave me some time to wander the length of the Fest, before it got crowded, to scope out what was available. A cheerful gentleman in a bright tropical shirt was strumming little ditties on his ukulele as he wandered up and down while a budding young artist was busy creating a welcoming message on the road with pastel-coloured sidewalk chalk – ‘Blyth Streetfest “hear”’ (artistic licence perhaps?).

I stopped in to the Blyth Streetfest Headquarters and spoke with Connie Goodall, Economic Development Officer for the Township of North Huron. She told me that the event was started three years ago as a Busker Festival by the Blyth Business Improvement Association in partnership with the Township. It was created as an event that would bring people into the downtown core as an adjunct to a large camping festival that was taking place in Blyth at that time. Two years later, the event has changed dynamics somewhat and now features a performance stage and vendors. Connie said the focus of the Streetfest is to have an affordable, family friendly event with something to interest all ages.

For vintage car buffs, there was a variety of models of vintage cars all buffed and polished with chrome trim sparkling in the
IMG_2252 (2) (640x439)bright summer sun. You definitely needed your sunglasses on to look at those babies! My favourite was the 1958 Pontiac Chieftan with its shiny jet black body, brilliant chrome trim and crisp white sidewall tires, owned by Ed Becker of Clinton, ON. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anyone who would take me for a ride in it!

Summer festivals always mean food vendors and there was no shortage of choices to be made. You could try a basket of deep-fried pickles at Gator’s Grub (my tummy wasn’t brave enough). If you wanted something more traditional, the Lions Club had hamburgers and hotdogs. For those with a sweet tooth, there were a number of vendors offering a wide variety of delicious, home-baked goodies. Although those baked goods called to me with their siren (as in mermaid) voices, my burgeoning waistline convinced me to just look but not taste. The most interesting and entertaining food choice was the Tatostix and the Appostix. The Tatostix was made from a potato that was placed into a cylindrical machine that turned the potato while slicing it into one, long corkscrew. This was then threaded onto a long wooden skewer and placed in a deep-fryer. When cooked, the buyer then had a choice of a variety of flavours and spices that could be sprinkled onto the Tatostix. The Appostix was made from a Granny Smith apple that was sliced in the same manner and then threaded onto the skewer. The Appostix is not cooked but you could choose to have it sprinkled with cinnamon sugar or drizzled with chocolate sauce. In keeping with my desire to eat something “healthier” I chose an Appostix, but seeing as I am a bit of a chocoholic, I broke down and had mine drizzled with the chocolate sauce. The tart, crisp apple with the bittersweet dark chocolate was quite the taste sensation. It left me with sticky fingers and a paranoia that my face was covered in chocolate.

If you enjoy shopping, street vendors offered cosmetics, handicrafts, home decor, baked goods, fresh produce, spices, scented candles and even 3D Fibre Eyelashes! Many of the vendors are local folk but there were also some from Brussels, Mitchell and IMG_2279 (2) (640x480)_1Chesley. One lady from Stitches with a Twist in Blyth offered the most darling selection of tiny, hand-knit sheep, chickens, hedgehogs, rabbits and gnomes. Another lady sold soft-sided toy boxes, the colourful fabrics reminding me of a Turkish bazaar. Whitefield Farms had an artistic display of wonderful fruits, veggies and flower arrangements. Roslyn Cook of Goderich made lovely, brightly coloured mosaics. Vendors, David Hafner and Nick Buri, from Maple and Moose in Blyth sold quality wooden bird houses, feeders, game boards and cutting boards. The Wonky Frog Studio created pottery and other art. Their business mascot is the endangered Lemur Leaf Frog from Costa Rica.

My favourite entrepreneur was 10-year-old Brodie Nesbitt who was selling rusty rail road spikes for the bargain price of $1 each. Brodie and some friends have been busy collecting the spikes from the nearby Greenway Trail. He told me that he is hoping to earn enough money to buy a four-wheeler.

For the children, there was face-painting, a bike rodeo and a Corn Box filled with corn kernels and toy farm equipment, which was IMG_2293 (2) (480x640)very popular with the younger crowd, all farmers-in-training. The North Huron Fire Dept. had its Safety House to teach the children home fire safety. The volunteer firemen took me through a tour, which included smoke filled rooms, hot doors and fire alarms. There were booths where children could enter their guess as to how many coins there were in one jar or jellybeans in another. The CIBC had a bean bag toss and gave out little bottles of bubble solution.

Entertainment for children was provided by Dickie Bird – the fellow in the bright Hawaiian shirt. He played guitar and mixed humour with upbeat songs while a bubble machine filled the air with rainbow coloured bubbles. Dickie Bird was not one to hog the limelight so he quickly had the stage filled with young participants who clapped, honked horns, and jingled and jangled while others tried to hulahoop in time to the music. Dickie followed his music with magic tricks to the delight of the children.

The children’s entertainment was followed by a display of ballroom dancing performed by the East Side Studio Dancers from Blyth. I wanted to get up there and rhumba with them! 1-2-cha-cha-cha. Waiting in the wings ready to “swing your partner” were the Wheel’N’Dealers Modern Square Dancers from Clinton with the ladies wearing their brightly coloured skirts over puffy crinolines and the men in their western shirts and coloured neckerchiefs.

I have been considering getting a tattoo but I am not crazy about needles. Luckily for me, Dr. T was there with his airbrushes. He used to have a venue on Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls and also travelled with carnivals. I chose the design with 2 hearts (for me and my hubby) bordered by delicate leaves – and of course I had to have a healthy sprinkling of sparkling pixie dust to finish it off.

Another booth that I found interesting was a display of handcrafted items made by students at the Canadian Centre for Rural Creativity located in Blyth. You could sign up for a wide variety of courses. I chose photography, photojournalism, wire jewelry, and fabric marbling.

If you were hot and needed a quick cool down, you could try bobbing for apples at the North Huron Community Foodshare booth where you could also learn just how little the amount of food that a family of four can pick up for one month.

IMG_2312 (2) (480x640)As I was leaving, some young men were performing skateboard jumps. The occasional jumper landed on the ground sans skate board – I was glad it was their bum and not mine!

I would like to acknowledge all the young volunteers who were present throughout the event, many of them high school students earning their community service hours. One student, Kaila Nesbitt, (older sister of the intrepid railroad spike entrepreneur) modelled the vivid, lime green Blyth Streetfest backpacks that were available for purchase. Kaila lives in Blyth and likes to support her community through volunteerism.

I enjoyed my time at the Blyth Streetfest. Everyone was very friendly and parents felt safe letting their little ones roam. I think that it is a pleasant, inexpensive, family friendly activity that can easily be enjoyed for a couple of hours.

Musical masterpiece opens Bach Music Festival

15 Jul


By Diva Karen Stewart

EXETER – As I left my car on a side street in Exeter on Monday night, the bells in the tower at Trivitt Memorial Anglican Church were ringing a melancholy welcome.

A few minutes later, South Huron’s third Bach Music Festival of Canada was opened by the chair of the board, Friedhelm Hoffman, with greetings from South Huron’s mayor, Maureen Cole. What followed was nothing short of splendid – an evening of exceptional music presented by the wildly talented Spanish pianist Leopoldo Erice.

The concert began with Erice presenting a short lecture on his career, his appreciation for the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and his introduction to the musical part of the evening – the 32-part Goldberg Variations. I so appreciated this opportunity to learn more about Bach and his music from such a passionate and charming performer.

Leopoldo Erice

Leopoldo Erice

Erice began by saying “a concert without an audience is not a concert at all” and he thanked the nearly sold-out crowd for attending the performance this night. “The audience is the receiver of the composer’s message,” and is, therefore, a key part of the event.

Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and musician (1685 – 1750). He created the Goldberg Variations, an iconic 32-piece aria once described by NPR Music blogger Tom Huizenga as both “simply beautiful keyboard work, and a Rubik’s Cube of invention and architecture.”

A stately grand piano from D & S Pianos filled the stage so it was interesting to be reminded that in the time of Bach the piano had not yet been invented. The aria had been created for playing on a harpsichord with two manuals (or keyboards).

Erice described the translation to the piano to be quite demanding as the crossing of the hands would become somewhat chaotic, “like Tom and Jerry running back and forth across the keys” (he was quite funny in his delivery.) At one point in the aria, on the piano, both hands play the same note so the musician gets to decide which works for him/her.

Eric told the audience that the Goldberg Variations are said to have exquisite craftsmanship inspired by Bach’s devote Lutheran faith. It was created as part of Bach’s lifelong search for perfection. Further, Erice described the Goldberg Variations having much significance in its numbers. The 32-part Aria was created in 10 groups of three (with two parts repeated to reach the 32). There were nine canons or musical techniques employing a specific melody. And there were three parts presented in minors – #15 – (15/3 = 5) with the five having fear and sadness relating significance to the Virgin Mary; #21 (21/3 = 7) … relating to the seventh day when God rested and # 25 (5/5 = 5), a large homage, again to the Virgin Mary. The last variation #30 was celebratory.

Finally, Erice felt honoured to have the opportunity to explore Bach’s music in depth and feels that the piece often sends the audience into a meditative and contemplative state of mind. Most of all he felt the Goldberg Variations “have some of the most beautiful magical moments in music.”

After a brief break, the concert began … approximately 90 minutes of un-interrupted, technically complex but none-the-less splendid piano music, presented by a consummate professional. Some pieces were easy-listening, some were delivered with more aggression and some with rapid staccato.   The pieces created in minor keys definitely changed the mood as Bach has intended per this lecturer’s research.
The triple standing ovation indicated everyone in the church that evening agreed this was a wonderful way to kick off the 2015 Festival that continues all week with evening concerts and Bach’s free Brown-Bag Lunch Series.   The grand finale is St. Matthew Passion on Saturday night.

Full details are available on the website.

This piano originally belonged to Diva Karen Stewart's grandmother’s.  Karen donated it to Bach Music Festival in 2011 and an art class at South Huron District High School painted it.

This piano originally belonged to Diva Karen Stewart’s grandmother’s. Karen donated it to Bach Music Festival in 2011 and an art class at South Huron District High School painted it.



How to celebrate Canada Day in Huron County

30 Jun

CanadaDay-EventsBy Diva Claire Carter

The five-day forecast is showing a break from the rain, and I’m ready to celebrate Canada Day!  The holiday is extra special this year, as we’re also celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Canada Flag.  Here’s a list of what’s happening around Huron County.

goderich fireworksFestivities in Goderich kick off tonight with a fireworks show at the beach, featuring the sounds of Hotel California, the Original Eagles Tribute Band near the Marine Museum.  The concert starts at 8 p.m., and fireworks at dusk.  In the event of lightning, the fireworks will be rescheduled to July 1st.

On July 1st, head to Courthouse Square Park at 11 a.m. for free hotdogs, beverages and live entertainment.  The entertainment lineup for the day includes:

11:30 a.m. – Late Nite Radio
12:15 p.m. – Goderich Laketown Band
12:30 p.m. – The Civic Ceremony takes place on the Performance Stage to officially recognize Canada Day.
2 p.m. – Parade begins, traveling around the square and following the route below:

Goderich parade map

After the Canada Day parade, head back back to the beach for the Sail Pass and Boat Parade. The boats will sail past Cove Beach, St. Christophers Beach and the Main Beach before they enter the Main Harbour to be judged.

The Huron County Museum and Historic Gaol are both open from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. on Canada Day.

July 1st is a very full day in Exeter.  Head to the Rec Centre and Legion in South Huron early for a full day of events!  Free swim will also be offered.
7 a.m. to 11 a.m. – Breakfast

9 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Car Show

10 a.m. – Dress your Pet Contest

4 p.m.– dusk – musical entertainment

5 p.m. – 7 p.m. – Supper at the Exeter Legion

Fireworks at dusk.

Contact  Ian Palmateer for more information – (519) 228-7303.

The Wingham Firefighters Association is hosting fireworks in Riverside Park at Dusk on July 1st.
Also on July 1st, is the Seaforth Firefighter’s Breakfast.  Travel to Huron East and enjoy eggs, bacon, sausage, home fries, pancakes, toast, coffee and juice at the Seaforth Firehall (31 Birch Street) from 9 a.m. until noon.  Contact Marty Bedard for more information. (

Depending on how much you feel like doing, you can see fireworks two nights in a row, enjoy a great breakfast or dinner and participate in community fun.  Happy Canada Day!

For information on other summer events in Goderich, visit

Alice Munro Festival of the Short Story: Celebrating writers & the short story

12 Jun

Alice Munro readings 2015

By Guest Diva Sharlene Young-Bolen

HURON COUNTY — This past weekend saw the celebration of the 2015 ‪‎Alice Munro Festival of the Short Story with events and workshops taking place around Huron County. This literary festival is held once a year to encourage emerging writers and celebrate the short story in the landscape that inspired Alice Munro.

The Alice Munro Festival ran from June 4-7 and showcased readings, book signings, presentations, and masterclasses with some of Canada’s most respected authors, culminating in the Jubilee Gala at which the Adult and Youth Short Story Competition Awards were presented. Writers and readers had the opportunity to sign up for writing masterclasses and facilitated discussions with celebrated Canadian authors.

Heather O’Neill (2007 Canada Reads winner) presented a reading of her new collection of short stories, Daydreams of Angels. Author and Wingham native Andrew Kaufman hosted a “Story Structure of the Screenplay” masterclass among other appearances. Man Booker Prize-nominated Lisa Moore was the Jubilee Gala keynote speaker, led a masterclass and read some of a recent work at the Readings in the County in Bayfield. Governor General’s Literary Award-nominated Merilyn Simonds facilitated a book club discussion on reading Alice Munro stories. Giller Prize-nominated Caroline Adderson presented two masterclasses – “Writing Linked Short Stories” and “Writing Narrative Scenes” as well as other appearances.

At the Jubilee Gala on Sat., June 6, guests enjoyed pre-dinner social time with entertainment provided by Goderich musicians Mike Reynolds, Warren Robinson and John Lodge. After dinner, Eli Ham kicked off the evening’s program.

Author Lisa Moore was the keynote presenter for the evening. A Canadian Short Story writer and novelist from Newfoundland, Moore is a three-time nominee of the Scotiabank Giller Prize, winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the 2014 winner of CBC’s Canada Reads. Moore’s keynote presentation focused on the fiction of Alice Munro and the art of Mary Pratt, a Canadian artist whose paintings illustrate many of Munro’s book covers.

In her keynote address, Moore compared the work of the two women saying, “Both artists work in the tradition of realism, their work easily consumed on the surface but revealing another secret meaning underneath. Munro’s stories are full of permeable borders and often an unravelling of security. Munro is constantly stripping away false truths and Pratt’s artwork is always uncompromising. Munro’s women are always breaking expectations; Pratt’s paintings are full of paradox, contradiction – an interrogation of reality.”

After the completion of Moore’s presentation, Eli Ham took the stage to introduce the short story contest judges, Andrew Kaufman and Moore. The finalists for the youth award in the Alice Munro Short Story Contest were Bronte Cronsberry of St. Marys for Pointed Girl; Michelle Krasovitski of Goderich for Caretaker of Time; Katherine Talbot of Goderich for Windows of Reflection. The finalists for the adult award in the Alice Munro Short Story Contest were Leanne Dunic of Vancouver for Without Her; Lynn Horton of Toronto for Gamer; Catherine Jackson of Vancouver for Nest. The winners were announced: Michelle Krasovitski and Leanne Dunic. This year’s winning stories have been posted to so that everyone can enjoy them.

At the final event of the Alice Munro Festival, Readings in the County held in Bayfield, Moore, Merilyn Simonds and Caroline Adderson each read excerpts from their recent works. A question and answer session followed and was particularly enjoyed by the audience in attendance. The attendees and authors seemed to enjoy the intimate setting of the historic Bayfield Town Hall and there were many questions, many answers and anecdotes and much laughter.

This year’s Alice Munro Festival was an exciting, fun event for both readers and writers; well-organized, the workshops informative, the events entertaining. The festival planning committee has ideas in mind for next year’s literary festival and many of this year’s attendees will no doubt already be thinking about what’s in store for 2016.

Music lovers get their fill at jamboree and campout in Blyth

23 May

headshot (1)By Diva Karen Stewart

I love music! All types of music! There is nothing better than watching talented musicians make their instruments “sing” and a crowd of people moving to the beat.

This weekend – May 21-24 – is the 18th annual Barndance Historical Society’s Jamboree and Campout Weekend in Blyth. The event kicked off Thursday night and Friday afternoon with Campers Jam Sessions. These are Open Mic-type events where audience members perform to the crowd.

Friday night the Society presented its annual Bluegrass Concert. Wikipedia describes Bluegrass music as a form of American

There was standing room only at the Jam Session Thursday night in Blyth. Photo by Gord Baxter.

There was standing room only at the Jam Session Thursday night in Blyth. Photo by Gord Baxter.

roots music, and a subgenre of country music. Bluegrass was inspired by the music of Appalachia. It has mixed roots in Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and English traditional music, and was also later influenced by the music of African-Americans through incorporation of jazz elements.

The evening started with a concert by the Peace River Band, an award-winning group of five who reside in the Niagara region. They played a number of their own original songs as well as popular tunes such as John Denver’s Country Roads, Gordon Lightfoot’s Did She Mention My Name, Hank William’s I Saw the Light and audience favourite Mule Skinner Blues where lead Mary Lou Fitzgerald really got to show her pipes. Closing with The Orange Blossom Special the musicians had a chance to highlight their talent as they took turns playing the melody and improvising around it. This is typical to the style of Bluegrass music in contrast to old-time music in which all the instruments play the melody together. Rapid tempos, unusual instrumental dexterity and complex chord changes are typical and allow the viewer to appreciate the talent of each musician as well as the unique sounds of their instrument – in this case the banjo, the mandolin, the fiddle, and two guitars – one bass.


The second part of the evening was Open Stage. The House Band accompanied individuals from the audience who had pre-registered their intent to perform. They opened with a familiar tune.

BD from Heather Boa on Vimeo.

As the event name suggests, camping is a large part of the fun for Jamboree participants. Wednesday saw the arrival of the first

campground40 camping units – more than they had in Year 1 – says representative Gord Baxter. By Friday night, 350 campers were on site (approximately 700 people).

Over 100 volunteers help to co-ordinate this annual event. Baxter reports it’s not hard to get help as they break it down in to two or three hour shifts. I asked one volunteer why she keeps coming back and she replied, “For the music, and for the friends – new and old!”

Featuring traditional Barndance Musicians and their special guests.

Featuring traditional Barndance Musicians and their special guests.

On Saturday, there is a Musical Flea Market and Silent Auction, Open Stage events, a sold out pork chop dinner prepared by Blyth Lions Club and the ever popular Barn Dance Show followed by dancing until midnight.   Sunday’s Gospel Concert is one of the most popular events (You can catch the Peace River Band performing there on Sunday if you missed them), with 800 tickets sold already.

Read more about The Barndance Historical Society and its work at its website. All events still have tickets available that can be purchased at the door, and everyone is invited.


Barndance Historical Society & Entertainment Museum
273 Josephine St.
Wingham, ON N0G 2W0

Huron County readies for summer tourism season

21 Apr
Keynote speakers Rebecca Wise and Victor Barry of Cottage Life’s INNvasion’s reality TV show, talked about the growing trend for nostalgia and urged participants to think of all the senses - smell, sounds, touch, and tastes.

Keynote speakers Rebecca Wise & Victor Barry of Cottage Life’s INNvasion’s reality TV show, talked about the growing trend for nostalgia & urged participants to think of all senses – smell, sounds, touch, and tastes. Photos by Jenna Ujiye.

By Diva Karen Stewart

BLUEWATER – Tourism is the world’s largest industry with revenues of over $500 billion including travel, tourism and hospitality businesses. In Huron County, tourism is a major economic driver as we welcome over one million visitors to our region each year.

Recently, the Huron Tourism Association held its annual industry event. Over 100 tourism business operators gathered at the Community Centre in Zurich to listen, learn, and interact with their peers. By bringing together tourism operators to network and to sharpen skills, to learn about the County’s tourism assets and to talk about emerging travel trends we work to provide the best possible experience for our visitors.

This year’s theme was “Hospitable Huron – Weve got it, Lets flaunt it!” Our keynote speakers, Rebecca Wise and Victor Barry of Cottage Life’s Dining INNvasion reality TV show, talked about the growing trend for nostalgia and urged participants to think of all the senses – smell, sounds, touch, and tastes – whether in the kitchen or through decorating their public spaces. On the same note, Rebecca noted that her visit to Huron County exceeded her expectations, saying “You don’t know hospitality until you’ve stepped out into the rural countryside.”

Boxes and bundles of  new brochures are distributed to tourism operators throughout the county in time for the tourism summer season.

Boxes and bundles of new brochures are distributed to tourism operators throughout the county in time for the tourism summer season.

Heritage sites and stories, food, events and opportunities for outdoor adventures were all highlighted during three familiarization trips in the host municipality of Bluewater. Tourism operators gained a deeper awareness of just how rich in tourism assets that region of the county is.

One of the main activities during this annual event is the Brochure Swap. Participants are encouraged to gather related business brochures so they can promote each other to the world all season long. In

Huron County Museum and Historic Gaol Curator Patricia Hamilton (centre) receives the Tourism Champion Award from past recipient Jim Lee of Cinnamon Jim's and Huron County Tourism Co-ordinator Cindy Fisher.

Huron County Museum and Historic Gaol Curator Patricia Hamilton (centre) receives the Tourism Champion Award from past recipient Jim Lee of Cinnamon Jim’s and Huron County Tourism Co-ordinator Cindy Fisher.

addition, the newly re-designed 2015 Ontario’s West Coast Travel Guide was available as were the County’s specialty brochures including Fishing, Hiking and Cycling guides – each one a valuable tool that drives business in the County each season of the year.

And, finally, more proof of the good work folks are doing in the county was shared when two awards were presented. Huron County Museum and Gaol Curator Patricia Hamilton was honoured with the Tourism Champion Award, presented for demonstrating stellar hospitality, creative marketing savvy, inclusive partnerships and forward-thinking leadership and promotion of Ontario’s West Coast. And, the Maitland Trail Association, which

Roger Goddard and Suzanna Reid, of the Maitland Trail Association, accept the Tourism Development Award from John McHenry, an HTA board member.

Roger Goddard and Susanna Reid, of the Maitland Trail Association, accept the Tourism Development Award from John McHenry, an HTA board member.

celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, was awarded the Tourism Development Award for demonstrating leadership, creative invention, partnership initiatives, community impact and excellence in the tourism industry.

In Huron County, we’re open and ready for business. We look forward to welcoming you to Ontario’s West Coast for adventure, theatre, festivals, events, and food.   You’ll find heritage and culture sites that share stories of our deep rural roots and you’ll find new friends offering you a warm rural hospitality.

Visit today to plan your visit today.

Stories are part of the fabric of quilts, dresses & hats at the 2015 Quilt Exhibit

16 Apr
The quilt collection of Susan & Laurie Kraftcheck is featured in the 2015 Quilt Exhibit. Photo courtesy of Bonnie Sitter.

The quilt collection of Susan & Laurie Kraftcheck is featured in the 2015 Quilt Exhibit. Photo courtesy of Bonnie Sitter.

By Diva Heather Boa

EXETER –Joseph Hisey began his collection with a complete set of Edwardian women’s underwear.

Intricate jet beading adorns the back of this purple silk velvet caplet from 1895.

Intricate jet beading adorns the back of this purple silk velvet caplet from 1895.

In less than two decades, the fashion history instructor from Fanshawe College
has grown his collection to include not only nightgowns and petticoats with fine needlepoint, but about 200 pieces that represent developments in women’s fashion from 1849 through to current day. A number from the Victorian era are on display in the 2015 Heritage Quilt Exhibit at Trivitt Memorial Anglican Church in Exeter until Saturday, April 18.

The oldest dress in his collection dates back to 1849, a woollen dress woven in a stripe design of blue and orange with silk fringe. It was donated by the

A woollen dress is woven in a stripe design of blue and orange with silk fringe.

A woollen dress is woven in a stripe design of blue and orange with silk fringe.

family of a woman who brought what would have been her best dress from England to Canada. Then there’s the two-piece cream pont d’esprit dinner dress he discovered crumpled in a box at a flea market at Christie’s. Taking a chance, he paid $20 for the small bundle and found the delicate dress was in perfect condition with a label from Toronto’s Wm Stitt & Co. (circa 1900), estimated to be worth as much as $700. Other dresses have come from eBay, flea markets, auctions and donations.

Joseph Hisey, dress collector and fashion history instructor.

Joseph Hisey, textile and vintage clothing collector and fashion history instructor.

“I swore I’d never collect dresses. Coins take up so much less space,” Joseph joked. He keeps about five dresses displayed on mannequins in his home, with the rest carefully wrapped in acid-free paper and boxes and stored away. From time to time, he invites friends to help him air out the dresses and refold them so that they don’t wear along a fold line. In return, he makes an event out of it, providing commentary on the history of the dresses.

World War I Red Cross quilt.

World War I Red Cross quilt.

The 95 quilts in the curated show also tell stories of the women who pieced and sewed them together, and of the people who were important in their lives.

Among the dozens upon dozens of quilts that hang from frames or dowels is one with rows of red crosses and more than 600 embroidered names on a white background, probably created to raise funds for the war efforts. Each cross has a piece of paper with a number pinned to it, which corresponds to numbers in a binder, listing the names associated with that cross. The quilt’s owners, Janis and Peter Bisback, bought it at a Clinton auction in the 1980s and believe it was fund-raising project of the Hillsgreen Church.

Grace Manson died of tuberculosis before she finished this quilt.

Grace Manson died of tuberculosis before she finished this quilt.

Another quilt of colourful fabrics that mimicked petalled flowers from fine porcelain plates was made by Grace Manson, intended as a wedding quilt. However, she contracted tuberculosis and called off the wedding, dying in 1939. The unfinished quilt was finally completed in the 1980s.

The show also features the quilt collection of Laurie and Susan Kraftcheck, of Exeter, and vintage hats of Lynn Wilcox.

What: 2015 Heritage Quilt Exhibit

Where: Trivitt Memorial Anglican Church, 264 Main St. S., Exeter

When: It runs Friday, April 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, April 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Cost: Admission is $6. Lunch is available on site.

Funds raised at the quilt exhibit support the Bach Music Festival of Canada, with its 2015 Festival Season running from July 12 to 18. The season was recently announced and tickets are available online.

Date: Monday, July 13
Title: Back’s Goldberg Variations
Concert: Leopoldo Erice
Venue: Trivitt Memorial Anglican Church
Time: 8 p.m.
Tickets: $25 adults, $20 students
More information here.

Date: Tuesday, July 14
Title: Barn Dance Country Show
Venue: Festival Tent
Time: 8 p.m.
Tickets: $25 adults, $20 students
More information here.

Date: Wednesday, July 15
Title: Reverb Brass
Venue: Trivitt Memorial Anglican Church
Time: 8 p.m.
Tickets: $25 adults, $20 students
More information here.

Date: Thursday, July 16
Title: A Summer Evening
Concert: Bach Festival Chamber Choir and Orchestra
Venue: Trivitt Memorial Anglican Church
Time: 8 p.m.
Tickets: $25 adults, $20 students
More information here.

Date: Friday, July 17
Concert: Youth Arts Program Showcase
Venue: Festival Tent
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $10 adults, $5 students
More information here.

Date: Saturday, July 18
Concert: St. Matthew Passion
Venue: South Huron Recreation Centre
Time: 7 p.m.
Tickets: $30 adults, $25 students
More information here.

There will also be a brown bag lunch series from Monday through Friday at noon at Trivitt Memorial Anglican Church.


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