Community names stitched into wartime keepsake

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The Davidsons are looking for a permanent home for a piece of Lavender’s community heritage, a wartime keepsake from a century ago.

They are the caretakers of a First World War era coverlet carefully embroidered by the Lavender United Church women, who stitched the names of hundreds of local people.

Audrey and Harold Davidson are looking for a home for the bedspread, somewhere where it will be properly preserved and can be viewed by the public.

The blanket was passed down through the Brett family and finally over to Harold Davidson, who is the only remaining third generation farmer still farming at Lavender.

It was believed it should come back to Lavender, its home, but the United Church is no longer there and there are no community buildings.

Mrs. Elmer Brett was one of the seamstresses who did the stitching, along with Mrs. Sam Hawkins and Mrs. Herb Johnston. People from the surrounding area made a donation to have their name embroidered on the blanket, and all proceeds went to the Red Cross. The ruffled bedcover is in excellent condition, the bright red stitches are a stark contrast to the white sheet, thought to be made from bleached flour sacks.

“Having lived here all my life, I recognize a lot of the names and there are some I’ve never heard of,” said Harold.

Names like the Johnstons, Hawkins, Martins, Prentices, Ferrises and Wilkinsons appear often, sometimes with families taking up whole squares or more. The names represent the north-west corner of Dufferin and the southern part of former Nottawasaga Township, now Clearview. It also bears the name of Dufferin MP John Best, who was in office from 1909-1921.

The blanket, never raffled or sold, has not had a permanent home. The Davidsons say they would like to see it as part of the collection at the Dufferin County Museum and Archives.

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