This essay was originally published as part of the catalogue accompanying an exhibition titled FELT that I curated for the Textile Museum of Canada in 1999-2000. This version is broken down into ten posts, edited for clarity, and complied to comprise the first feature of my FELT blog.
Each post uses objects to illustrate aspects of Canadian history from the fur trade though popular culture. It is not so much a chronology as it is a collection of felt stories representing a Northern nation built on resource-extraction. Felt follows the fur trade through millenary traditions, growing with the rise of industrialization as a partner with steel. It peaked through the Great Wars and the subsequent wave of optimism in North American engineering and design. It has struggled through an era of globalized capital and corporate mergers, but felt is still unrivalled in some industries and remains contemporary for it’s sustainabilty and organic quality.
This is a modern story seen through the lens of material culture. It is at once a series of cliches of Canadian identity and a resource for survival in the Northern landscape. It is story of development in the new-world as felt is worn by use, by weather and by time.