Sunday, April 25, 2010

It's Been a While!

I haven't logged into my blog in what seems like forever!! The school year is nearly over and I am finding lots of ways to incorporate what I learned over the summer into my class. My Kindergartners are going to be the best at UGRR information! I have 4 quilts finished and two more to do for my grant. The ones that I have done are my Monkey Wrench quilt which I had pieced before we left but finished completely after we got back.

The next one I finished was my Bear's Paw quilt. If quilts had been used as signals folklore says this one would have instructed escaping slaves to follow the path of the bear to find water and a way through the woods.

After this one I made a North Star quilt which would have told escaping slaves to follow the North star. I love the colors in this one!

The last one I finished is a quilt that matched the book Patchway Path. It's about a little girl who escapes to freedom with her father guided by the quilt her mother had made. I used the Eleanor Burn's Underground Railroad Book as patterns for the blocks but adapted them to match the pictures in the book. This really makes the book "come alive" for my students when I read it to them and then show them the quilt. They think it's like magic!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

North Buxton and Home

We spent Wednesday morning at a wonderful museum in North Buxton, Ontario. This was the location of a settlement of freed slaves. It was started by Rev. King who owned 12 (I think) slaves and moved them to the North Buxton area. When they arrived in Canada of course they were free - Rev. Kings whole point to moving to Canada and he developed a settlement for them called the Elgin Settlement. Each freed slave could purchase 10 acres of land at $2.50 an acre. It needed to be paid off within 10 years at an interest rate of 6%. Each land owner had to abide by certain rules of the settlement including how big the house should be, putting in a vegetable garden and a picket fence out front. Sounds like our association rules!! We were able to tour a log cabin from the time of the settlement and their school. I loved the school!! When our wonderful tour guide and museum curator told us they had 100 students from first to twelth grade I didn't think it was the place I wanted to work! We had a wonderful time at this museum and felt very welcomed.

The next museum we had hoped to go to was closed - it is a small family run museum and they had people out of town so weren't open today. Instead we hunted down several lighthouses in the area and then headed home.

We stopped to see the grandkids as soon we got to town and then over to mother's before pulling into the driveway with a total of 2899.2 miles under our belts!!

Even though our trip is over stay tuned to my blog as I report on quilts made and other tidbits. My next blog will be the highlights and lowlights of our trip. But hands down we agree this was the best sight in the last two weeks.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dresden and Chatham, Ontario

We're back on the train!! Today we went to Dresden, Ontario and found a wonderful museum centered around Josiah Henson. When Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin she used Josiah's autobiography as a model for her main character. The museum was well laid out and had some wonderful artifacts from the mid to late 1800's. It seems that every stop we learn a little more about the UGRR and the lives that were affected by it.

Our next stop was in Chatham at the Black Historical Society Museum. We felt like we were royalty at this small but powerful museum. We spoke with Brian Romineck and Gwen Robinson who gave us a guided tour of the history of Chatham and how it fit into the UGRR puzzle. Chatham was a destination for many free blacks and escaping slaves and they were very prosperous. It was in Chatham that John Brown came to plan his raid on Harper's Ferry and to gain financial support for his endeavor. Chatham was also the home of Mary Ann Shadd Cary who published a newspaper called The Provincial Freeman. Mary Ann became the first female black attorney at age 60! All I have to say is "you go girl!" We went to a cute little park dedicated to Black History in Chatham where this bust of Mary Ann Shadd Cary is displayed.

Tomorrow we are on to North Buxton another destination on the UGRR and perhaps John Freeman Walls Historic Site just outside of Windsor, Ontario. After that stop we are homeward bound!!

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Bruce Pennisula

We started the day at the museum in town where we had been told there was a display on the Underground Railroad. It turns out that the display is only out at certain times - mostly during February. There is another museum close to town but the ladies at the first museum said the other display is only seasonal also.

We decided to spend the day as tourist! We drove up the Bruce Peninsula and hiked to two waterfalls. We then drove to the tip of the peninsula and visited 3 lighthouses. It was a beautiful drive and we enjoyed the day very much. We did find a fabric store along the way and I did find some FQs of Canadian fabric (Canadian flag, moose, dragonfly). They had awesome flannel but I couldn't bring myself to purchase a big piece with the cost.

Tomorrow we are on our way to Dresden, Ontario where they have a Uncle Tom's Cabin memorial. The runaway slave that Harriet Beecher Stowe based her story on settled in Dresden, Ontario. There are several other spots for us to visit close to Dresden and we will have to see how much we accomplish.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Owen Sound

Today we drove up to Owen Sound. It was a destination for many escaping slaves. We went to the visitors center first and found a tour through town of historic spots from the time of arriving runaway slaves. We visited these spots and took some great pictures. Some of the spots still talked of secret rooms and underground arrival tunnels which we couldn't figure out. Why have secret spots when the slaves were free here? We couldn't find an answer. Tomorrow we are going to several museums and perhaps they will have some more information.

One of the neatest things we saw was a cairn as a memorial to the slaves who traveled the UGRR and made it to Owen Sound. This cairn is designed to reflect the entire route that the slaves traveled from Africa to Owen Sound. In the walls are rocks from Africa, southern former slave holding states and northern states that slaves would have traveled through. The "floor" of the cairn is quilt patterns from a signal quilt. They used 8 quilt patterns - they are beautiful!

Besides the UGRR sites we also went to a waterfall and found information about several more that we hope we have time to visit tomorrow.

No quilt shops today! But with the cost of fabric I'm not sure that's a bad thing!!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Traveling Through Canada

Today we spent the day traveling along the shore of Lake Ontario. It was a beautiful drive including a short ferry ride over a small inlet. No Underground Railroad today. I have to say Courtney every time we see something in French we say "too bad Courtney isn't here"!! We did take a picture of the Montreal skyline however it was sunset and we were in a moving car so the picture is either "artsy" or blurry depending on your thoughts. Bruce, I remember your offer to search for UGRR sites on golf courses along the way and I have noticed quite a few courses so maybe there is a tie there.

We found a fabric store in the Quilter's Travel Companion and when we stopped - we were right in the middle of a Shop Hop!! We did about three shops in the Shop Hop and had a great time. They do their Hops differently than at home - they have one quilt - this one a beautiful log cabin and you buy a kit for part of the quilt at each shop. You have to visit all 6 shops to get the complete quilt. I had forgotten that they do everything in meters up here so fat quarters are closer to fat thirds. Fabric is VERY expensive! It almost made my heart stop to see $14.99-$16.99 on the end of a bolt. While that is for a meter it works out at the $14.99 price to be $13.68 a yard!! YIKES! I didn't buy very much fabric. We have found everything to be very expensive up here even with the exchange rate ($1 USA = .85 Canadian).

We stopped for the night outside of Toronto. Tomorrow we finish our trip to Owen Sound and will visit some of their historic sites at the end of the UGRR.

Friday, June 12, 2009


Today we spent the day in Vermont. We went to Rokeby, a home in Ferrisburgh that was a stop on the Underground Railroad. The guide, Stan, told us that for most it wasn't a stop on the railroad but rather a destination. He said that Vermont was the first state to pass laws that restricted the Fugitive Slave Law which said that a fugitive slave had to be returned if caught. He said there was no written information showing that a fugitive slave was ever returned from Vermont. Many runaway slaves moved to Vermont and started their new lives there. The Rokeby farm was a very large working farm raising Merino sheep, chickens and dairy cows. We found the tour at Rokeby to be very informative. The grounds and buildings are well kept up and we toured the outbuildings on our own and then had a guided tour of the house. Well worth the cost of admission.

After Rokeby we went to Essex Junction to a quilt shop named Yankee Pride! Oh my goodness, I thought I had died and gone to quilt shoppers heaven! They had a TON of reproductiton fabrics and great help to boot! We managed to get most of the remaining pieces that we needed. I had made notes on what I still needed but my "clear" notes got a bit confusing so I'm not sure I have 100% of what I need but most of it. The ladies at the shop said they have many quilters who come through the area to go to Keepsake Quilting (located in New Hampshire). When they get to Keepsake Quilting and ask for reproduction fabrics, they are sent to Yankee Pride! Do you think a shop hop that includes Savage, MD, Essex Junction, VT, and then on to New Hampshire would be too far? Let's say ROAD TRIP!!

We drove along Lake Champlain, through the islands and then into Canada. Do you speak French? We don't! Everything is in French!! Yikes!! We stopped for the night just outside of Montreal and the English speaking (thank goodness) hotel desk clerk said we would be in English speaking areas in about an hour drive. Montreal has a beautiful skyline and we were glad not to be driving into it!

We are headed to towns where a lot of runaway slaves settled. Our final destination is Owen Sound about 9 hours from here. We are traveling tomorrow and we'll see how far we get. Kent thinks we'll make it clear to Owen Sound but I think we'll have a bit to go on Sunday.