Mom Evelyn – Needlework/Assemblage
Evelyn Mather was an only daughter and grew up on a farm near Balderson ON with her three brothers. She didn’t talk a lot about her childhood but based on information from Uncle Gord, her early childhood may have been greatly affected by her Mother’s farm accident. She seems to have had a love of needlework all her life and was probably inspired by her Mother’s work.
Mom was a star pupil in SS#9 Bathurst and went on to do well in her studies at Perth Collegiate Institute. She completed her senior matriculation and went on to win the award as top pupil in the following year when she completed her Special Commercial certificate. This led to a position in the office of the Perth Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police – the first secretary and female to occupy a position in that office. During her school years and later she boarded with a family in Perth, returning to the farm on the weekends.
As a Young Mother
From her photo albums I gather that the next few years were fun filled with friends and activities. During this time she met her prince and marriage led to life on the Miller farm at Glen Tay. I arrived the following year, before hydro reached the farm! Apparently the farm location on a side road, that was only passable past our house during the summer months, made it a low priority as the lines were strung in the area. In spite of the mill across the road that had generated hydro for the town of Perth in the early 1900’s, the house and farm remained a very ‘manual’ place!
Continuing the Needlework Tradition
With four young children who arrived at regular intervals and an ambitious farmer for a husband, my mother, without many of the conveniences enjoyed by ‘town folk’ at the time, was very busy. From that period I have seen smocked baby nightgowns and embroidered carriage covers but I’m sure there wasn’t a lot of time for needlework. As we grew, she found time for a night school class in smocking and with three daughter’s in her tribe of four, she made sure that we each had a smocked dress for special occasions. The sewing machine that appeared shortly after my brother’s birth always baffled her, as did any new appliance that my father tried to tempt her with! Later in life it we often found that the new appliances she was gifted would be sitting unused in a cupboard unless Dad or one of us dragged it out and introduced her to it!
Mom was a 4-H leader and great supporter of our beginning efforts in the needle arts but her forte was cooking. However, once her four were all safely launched, Mom expanded her activities to include some craft groups in Perth and along the way became a member of the Womens’ Institute and returned to needlework through courses they offered.
Creating Mom Evelyn
The components I used for this needlework/assemblage piece for the TREX exhibition are from the latter part of her life, samples and small items produced during craft classes. It is obvious that her love of needlework never left her. A smocking sample, needle weaving, chicken scratch embroidery, crochet, crewelwork were added to her love of embroidery. Mom inherited the Mather love of travel and travel she and Dad did in their retirement. I have included some of her pins – the china flowers I remember from my childhood, a petit point pin created by a sister-in-law, a necklace medallion she brought me from Spain, a celtic cross from her trip to Scotland and another pin from France. I’ve also added her Women’s Institute and Life member pins to the collection.