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Some of the first French immigrants to North America settled along the St Lawrence River and in parts of the Atlantic regions in the early 17th century. While the French were famous for tapestry weaving, the settlers also brought simpler home spinning and weaving skills that they used to make textiles for clothing and bed coverings. As these newcomers established themselves, home production of textiles increased. Girls were taught to spin by their older relatives and looms were built for making simple lengths of cloth. Besides the catalogne technique, two different hand techniques – boutonné and à la planche – could be used on any loom to make patterned bedspreads.

Where was this textile created?

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The Parlour

Rug (catalogne)
North America: Canada, Central Canada, Quebec
Late 19th century
Woven cotton
480 cm x 91 cm
Gift of Sharon Walker
T04.29.1 Textile Museum of Canada

Although catalogne, a traditional Québequois weaving technique that uses strips of rags as wefts, can be used in textiles for either beds or floors, the considerable length of this rug would have enabled it to cover the hall of a house, or occupy part of the floor of a large sitting room.

This catalogne rug shows a subdued and masterful control of colour, as well as a masterly weaving technique. The muted palette of brown and green rag strips is accented with dull red cotton string. The composition as a whole has a somber beauty that points ahead to the colour mastery of the great 20th century Québec painters, Yves Gaucher and Charles Gagnon.

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