|Placentia West Mat Makers hooker rug|
On July 24, 2019, Dale and I drove to Boat Harbour on the Burin Peninsula to chat with four hookers about their experience with the Placentia West Mat Makers. This group was developed in 1979-1980 by Lois Saunders, who was working as a rural development officer at the time. She helped the local community women organize the Placentia West Mat Makers Association as a craft business. The goal was to earn wages through the traditional practice of rug hooking. Lois Saunders connected with Colleen Lynch who came to Baine Harbour to give workshops on rug hooking.
|Former Placentia West Mat Makers|
The four women discussed their own experience with rug hooking. Some had hooked before the Mat Making Association while others learned to hook as part of the rug hooking workshops. Traditional mats made by their mothers, and grandmothers included designs of geometric patterns, or flowers while the Placentia West Mat Makers hooked rugs with outport scenery including harbours, kitchens, and bedrooms. Traditionally mats were made for the floor, however, the mats these women created often ended up on the walls and in galleries. The women discussed some of the shows which displayed the Placentia West mats and described how several members had traveled to England, and Germany to accompany the mats to their shows.
|Traditional pattern style with geometric designs, and flower in centre|
Unfortunately due to a number of factors including low wages the Placentia West Mat Making Association disbanded in 2015. Thankfully, the Placentia West Heritage Committee, which has been around since 1983, has established the Livyers' Lot Économusée in Boat Harbour. The Économusée includes a reception, workshop, reading room, boutique, museum, restaurant, and interpretation of traditional and contemporary skills. This space allows the communities to keep rug hooking, and other traditions from the region alive and ensure they are passed on through workshops and events like this hooker tea.
|Poked mat for sale at Livyers' Lot.|
Poked mats were traditional to the area but not part of the Placentia West Mat Makers Association's business.
If you would like to learn more about the Livyers' Lot Économusée read our Living Heritage Economy Case Study
or visit their Facebook
page. If you would like to learn more about the development of hooked rugs in the province during the 1970s-2000s check out this article
by Paula Flynn.