Click on these motifs to see a close-up of the stitching (and under differing light conditions)
A banner can be two things: a piece of cloth with a design attached at one end to a rod; or an ensign displaying a distinctive or symbolic device, devices or inscriptions, a name, or slogan for a particular group.
So here we have our banner which denotes we are a serious organization and properly recognized and dated. We have expanded into a national organization composed of many chapters with workshops, youth groups, correspondence courses, a library, bursaries, and a beautiful magazine.
A History of the Winnipeg Embroiderers' Guild Banner – 1973-2010
by Jo Hewitt-Nickel
(Presentation Delivered at the W.E.G. Meeting of Thursday, January 7, 2010)
Leonida Leatherdale was an embroideress living in the country in St. Norbert, Manitoba. She was a keen stitcher who was frustrated at only having Eaton's or The Bay supplying the needs for embroidery … mainly Clarks stranded cotton, printed transfers, needlepoint projects, and tapestry wool … so she began to import lovely Appleton yarns and Persian yarns from the U.K. and the U.S.A. I had just started a studio to teach embroidery and was thankful she was willing to let my students buy from her.
Leonida had attended several Seminars in the U.S. and was impressed with their organization. She was very enthusiastic about having one in Canada so she invited six of us keen stitchers (Jo Hewitt, Leonida Leatherdale, Carol McCann, Selma Sigusmund, Shirley Tyderkie and ???) for coffee one evening and we had a discussion. Then we had another (more formal) discussion, and the outcome was the Embroiderers' Association of Canada, Winnipeg Chapter. None of us knew much about it; we were all novices, and of course we didn't have the funds to do what the American guilds did, but we muddled along and got professional advice when we needed it, and finally advertised a meeting at Place Louis Riel and a good-sized crowd came out. However we hadn't found a permanent meeting place, so it was some time before we started in the Cornish Library.
If I remember rightly, the meetings were not all that exciting so we thought we had better have an aim, our Seminar in the Fort Garry Hotel. We arranged committees, advertised, hired U.S. and U.K. teachers, and had an exhibition. It was a great success. But what next. .. .?
Well, we struggled on and on and in due time other guilds started and grew in popularity (especially Toronto’s) until we were as we are today: properly registered Guilds of the Embroiderers' Association of Canada.
Years later, the then WEG Executive, in its wisdom, thought we should have a banner (and rightly so, I think!). We formed another committee. We talked together, and came up with what we thought was a suitable design.
So here we have the result. The banner was stitched in the early 1980s. I completed the design with input from the whole group. Kit Gates (crocus/wheat, our provincial flower and our prairie fields), Eleanor Thomas (three buffalos, our provincial emblem), Ingrid Lincoln (grain elevator, the sentinel of the prairies), and Lorraine Iverach (grey owl, our provincial bird) stitched the medallions (which were appliquéd to the banner) representing icons of our prairies. Many, many people helped with the other stitching; I'm sorry, I don't remember all the names of everyone. The Guild Hall was stitched directly onto the linen fabric and the lettering and dates were designed and spaced, then stitched by many hands. Miriam Birkenthal put the banner together, adding the backing, rod pocket, ribbons, and loops.
I am very proud of the WEG and very proud to have been in it from the beginning, and really proud to have had the privilege of designing our banner. Thank you everyone.