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Amherst centennial rug brought out of basement

Edie Arsenault helped hook this rug for Amherst’s centennial celebration in 1989. The rug was on display at the Community Credit Union Business Innovation Centre, the old Amherst town hall, last week during the 10th anniversary of the Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival in Amherst.
Edie Arsenault helped hook this rug for Amherst’s centennial celebration in 1989. The rug was on display at the Community Credit Union Business Innovation Centre, the old Amherst town hall, last week during the 10th anniversary of the Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival in Amherst.

AMHERST – A centennial rug created for the Amherst centennial celebration almost 30 years ago saw the light of day for the first time last week.

‘We had been talking about the rug off and on for the last little while because of the Canada 150 celebration,” said Edie Arsenault. “We located it and it’s in decent shape.”

Arsenault and about six other women belonging to the Town and Country Thrummers rug hooking group created the rug in 1989 to celebrate Amherst’s 100th anniversary.

“We made it in time for the big parade we had for the centennial celebration in the summertime of 1989,” said Arsenault. “After the parade they put the rug up at the town hall office, and then they stored it securely down in the basement.”

That’s where it has sat for the past 28 years.

“I started asking about it and where it was and if it was in decent shape,” said Arsenault.

The caretaker now working at the old town hall searched for it, found it, and then brought it upstairs

The rug is in very good shape but the colour has changed over the years.

“It was quite a vibrant blue when we hooked it but it has faded,” said Arsenault.

The rug, which depicts the Four Fathers and the old town hall, took the rug hookers about four months to create.

“The faces were the hardest part. I’m amazed they came out so well, and the wording is clear as a bell and easy to read. That’s one of the hardest things to do besides the faces.”

Arsenault is from Amherst but now lives in Rothesay, N.B., where she gives rug-hooking classes. She has hooked close to 100 rugs in the past 30 years and ranks the centennial rug as one of her favourites.

“It would definitely make my list of top10 rugs. I’m really proud of the job the girls did,” she said.

Arsenault is 73-years-old and loves rug hooking.

“My sisters ask me when I’m going to retire and I say, ‘what do you mean retire, this is my fun thing to do.’”

Arsenault has a rug-hooking shop in her basement in Rothesay where she does all different styles of rug hooking but specializes in flowers that are shaded. Shading gives a rug a 3-D effect.

She says rug hooking is a great way to express oneself artistically.

“It’s much more free than all the other needlework crafts because if you don’t like something in a pattern you can change it. It’s OK.”

Rug hookers also customize their colours.

“My biggest fun is dying the wool and making the colours,” said Arsenault.

Looking at the rugs on display throughout the Community Credit Union Business Innovation Centre last week in the old Amherst town hall, Aresenault says, “None of this wool has been purchased off the bolt, or hardly at all. Most of it’s dyed by the artists or one of the teachers.”

The centennial rug will not spend the next 30 years in the basement of the old town hall.

“We’re hoping it can last 100 years, so we’re going to take it to the Cumberland County Museum here in Amherst. They will know how to look after it properly,” said Arsenault.

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