“A Fine Token of Friendship and Good Feeling”

by | Aug 30, 2023 | Article, History, Research

This week, after finding the 1941 image of an underground hospital in London in wartime (posted on my IG account), I decided to look for more references to quilts in British newspapers. I found the article above in the Western News in Cardiff, Wales, dated August 18th, 1942. It continued:

Western Wales and Southwest News, August 18, 1942

This was the first I had heard of the ‘Famous Quilt’ (not to be confused with the WWII ‘Famous Names Quilt’ initiated and brought to completion by Margaret Bishop, the wife of WWI Flying Ace, Billy Bishop). I decided I needed to head back to Canadian newspapers to see if I could find out more about this quilt in an Alberta newspaper. This is the earliest mention I have found so far:

The Edmonton Bulletin, September 15, 1941

But that was only the first article. I started to find more – many more! And the articles no longer mentioned one quilt, but many quilts. A quick (and I mean very quick) internet search for the ‘McCauley Concert Group’ didn’t turn up anything. Does anyone know about them? Can you help us learn more about them? It is clear they were not the only group involved. Women’s Institutes and Rebekah Lodges of Alberta were also participating. Here are a few more articles, in the order they appeared in the Edmonton newspapers.

The Edmonton Bulletin, November 10, 1941
The Edmonton Bulletin, September 28, 1942
The Edmonton Bulletin, October 24, 1942

I have by no means done an exhaustive search of newspapers or other primary sources, but it is clear this was an important project in the Edmonton area, and it was well received in Wales. And I haven’t searched other British newspapers to see if there is mention of where any of the other quilts in this project ended up. But here is the fun part – I just couldn’t leave this subject without checking the collection of Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales. It took a bit of searching in their collection, but look what I found! If you visit their website, you can zoom in to read the names. It appears that a stamp has been used to frame each tiny block, and then names are written in ink inside the blocks. Now, I wonder how many more of these quilts are still in existence!

Collection of Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales: Green and yellow cotton sateen quilt with printed signatures. Sent in 1942 to the Cymmrodorion Welsh War Relief Committee from Edmonton, Canada.