Quilts honouring N.L. role in First World War looking for permanent home

It started out as a small idea that quickly grew into a project that has seen quilts from this province shown around the world.

17 quilts filled with history hanging at Admiralty House until Thursday

Creators worry that this could be the last time all 17 quilts are displayed together. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

It started out as a small idea that quickly grew into a project that has seen quilts from this province shown around the world. 

On Thursday, at 4 p.m. Newfoundland time, the final showing will end and 17 quilts will be packed away.

It isn't the fate the creators wanted.

"We have been negotiating to find a permanent solution for the quilts so that they can be on display always for people to see, but we can't tell you at this time if our efforts are successful," said Elsa Flack, one of the many quilters behind the project.

Back in the fall of 2014, Flack had an idea to commemorate the role of Newfoundland and Labrador in the First World War, mainly the opening day of the Battle of the Somme at Beaumont Hamel.

Quilters Debbie Northover, left, and Elsa Flack say there is historical importance in the quilts and that they should be on permanent display. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Three years ago, the group envisioned it could create three or four quilts.

Reaching out to the public for their personal stories — one quilted square at a time — the Peace by Piece: Quilted Memories of Newfoundland in the Great War grew larger than anyone could have imagined.

The group has even published a book with 17 chapters, one for each story behind the quilts.

"Every step of the way we have all shed tears as we have done different parts of the process," said Debbie Northover, a quilter and the group's treasurer.

"When people view it and they read the book and they see the stories, it elicits all those emotions in them as well."

Each quilt is filled with the squares telling the people's personal connections. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

The quilts first went public in May 2016 at the Jack Byrne Arena in Torbay.

The CLB Armoury took one honouring the Trail of the Caribou when it went to Europe during the summer of 2016.

Four made it to France, with two being displayed at Beaumont Hamel and two at Vimy Ridge.

The quilts have done stints in Toronto and Corner Brook as well.

Flack said their work has been seen by hundreds of thousands of people. 

"It's a project of the heart," said Flack. "People who have used their quilt block to tell a story have been so grateful to us and people who have come to view the quilts have also thanked us profoundly."

All 17 quilts are on display at Admiralty House in Mount Pearl until Thursday afternoon. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

With just days for the public to see the quilts, currently housed at the annex next to Admiralty House in Mount Pearl, both Flack and Northover hope they find a permanent home. 

"They are timeless," Northover said. "It's part of our history."

"If we don't keep remembering these things how can we make changes. I think they will always be a teaching tool. They will always have a connection to people."