Shelley Polkinghorne, Ruby-Ann Dawson, Betty Leitch, Donna Brower, Homa Movahedi, Gail Horne, Carol Sheilds and Patty Barron of the Silver Swans show off the Canada 150-themed quilts that they created for the Nature House at the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary to help baffle the sound. Wolfgang Depner / News Staff

Swan Lake sews up tribute to Canada

Silver Swans provide 13 hand-crafted quilts celebrating the Canadian mosaic

Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary will be flying a special tribute to Canada 150.

Thirteen Canada-themed hand-crafted quilts will fill the rafters of the sanctuary’s main building, the Nature House. The Silver Swans, a group of quilters working out of the sanctuary’s Martelli House, created the quilts.

The project emerged out of a request to build banners to baffle sound in the Nature House, said Donna Brower of the Silver Swans. “We were asked to do 12, but we got carried away and did 13,” said Brower.

Donna Leitch, another member of the Silver Swans, said sound became an issue when changes in the arrangements of displays created an open area where sound echoes.

“There is an administrative section in the house, so nobody can hear what is going on or even hear themselves,” said Leitch. “It’s too hard to hear either on the phone or just in person, when there is lots of noise.”

Julia Dawson, co-ordinator of volunteers and events, said filling the rafters with quilts will make it easier for the sanctuary to deliver its programs.

“It improves the learning environment, because you can hear, whether you are a kid, senior or staff,” she said.

While the quilters had to follow width and length specifications of 24 by 55 inches, they enjoyed total creative freedom.

All of the designs are originals, said Leitch. “There were lots of creative ideas,” said Leitch. “We didn’t follow any particular theme other than just Canada 150.”

It is estimated that it took the quilters about 500 hours to complete the project, which Brower admitted was not initially popular. “But after we got going, they all did wonderful jobs,” she said.

Silver Swans started five years ago and raises money for the sanctuary by selling its creations through the sanctuary’s gift shop.

“In some years, we contribute quite a bit,” said Brower.

Dawson said the project is a win for all involved. It raises awareness about the Silver Swans and helps raise money for centre.

The theme of the quilts also links the centre with the upcoming sesquicentennial.

“Our tag phrase is Connecting People with Nature and that is a huge part of Canada 150, just appreciate the country that we have,” said Dawson.