On the horse and around the hearth…
At the time of Confederation, 84% of Canada’s population was rural. Though the balance has shifted to a more urban nation since the 1940s, agriculture remains a vital part of the economy.
In the early days when horsepower actually meant powered by horses, felt was applied as padding on saddles and harnesses, and continues to be used by farmers and ranchers who recognize that felt is superior than synthetic substitutes when it comes to animal well-being. Newer materials may come in many colours, but they trap heat. None compare to the way the wool of felt breathes and reduces heat build-up. Felt wicks moisture away from the horse, and prevents pressure points that can lead to sores. And, felt has lasting power, outliving newer materials that break down more readily.
Living on the land is sustained by thrift in the home. Penny rugs, often hung on the wall or laid by the hearth, are so-called for their use of circle shapes and low cost. They are made from scraps of found materials, often felt, and old clothes, and usually backed with burlap bags or feed sacks. Penny rugs are common to the Atlantic regions where a larger share of the population lives in rural areas than other parts of the country. KW