________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 13 . . . . March 2, 2001

Acadian Cultures Series.

Grades 6 and up / Ages 11 and up.

Review by Joan Payzant.



Cheticamp: The Hooked Rug Capital of the World.

Louisdale, NS: Colouring the Road Video Productions (P.O. Box 326, Louisdale, NS, B0E 1V0), 1998.

10 min., VHS, $29.95.

*** /4


Cheticamp: Gateway to the Cabot Trail.

Louisdale, NS: Colouring the Road Video Productions, 1999.

25 min., VHS, $29.95.

*** /4

Cheticamp: The Hooked Rug Capital of the World.

This is a great video although it is a little disappointing because it is so short. The opening scenes introduce Cheticamp, a beautiful French Acadian village in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, with scenes of a rowboat in a peaceful anchorage, the imposing church, heart of the village, its harbour with fishing boats at their moorings, and a group of people on horseback riding on a long sandy beach. French Acadian names crop up throughout the story of how hooked rugs became a major industry in the village populated by Deveaus, Chiassons, Boudreau's, Doucets, Poiriers, and Muises.

      Through their cooperation and artistry, the unique handwork of this enterprising village is now known in the Vatican, Buckingham Palace and the White House. Like many early settlers, Cheticamp women hooked rag rugs out of old clothing cut into narrow strips. Gradually came the transition to wool which they dyed themselves. Alexander Graham Bell's summer home, Beinnn Breagh, at Baddeck was not too far from Cheticamp. Mrs. Bell and her daughter, Mrs. Fairchild, became interested in the Cheticamp rugs and often took their visitors to see them. One of these friends, Miss Lillian Burke of New York, made suggestions to the rug hookers to improve the quality of their work, saying that finer wool in pastel shades would add to the beauty of the rugs. She bought many of the rugs cheaply and sold them in New York at high prices. Unfair as this was, she is credited with starting the big industry which Cheticamp rugs have now become.

      Unfortunately a rift developed for a time amongst the rug hookers when someone heard of the large profit Miss Burke was making. As a result, while several of the hookers remained loyal to Miss Burke local businesses began selling the rugs right in Cheticamp.

      Les Trois Pignons (a building with three gables) in Cheticamp is the home of La Societe Saint Pierre which promotes Acadian culture. Some of the very best rugs are displayed there. Also Dr. Elizabeth Lefort, who creates amazing tapestries, has her own gallery where her large portraits in wool are hung.

      Recently a carpet was commissioned for Rideau Hall, home of Canada's Governor General. Marie Elwood and Marion Bradshaw of the Canadiana Fund suggested that the carpet have a central floral cluster of the flower emblems of the ten provinces and two territories. Marie Claire Doucette, manager of the project, chose five of the best artists to work with her on the rug. Gilles Deveau sketched the pattern on the rug, and, after three months and innumerable stitches, it was finished and is now in use at Rideau Hall.

Highly Recommended.

Cheticamp: Gateway to the Cabot Trail.

On a wintry Saturday afternoon with snow blowing horizontally past my window, this video, Cheticamp: Gateway to the Cabot Trail was a joy to watch. The Village of Cheticamp, situated on Cape Breton Island between mountains and the sea was the subject of this video made at the height of summer. Settled in 1782 by Acadians after their expulsion from the mainland of Nova Scotia, Cheticamp now has a population of about 4,500. The community is thriving, its citizens working at fishing, producing crafts and attracting tourists enthusiastically experiencing its different culture and language. To background music supplied in turn by piano, flute and fiddles, prominent citizens comment with pride on their lives in Cheticamp. A canoe maker tells of the serenity and beauty he finds there, a restauranteur extols the number and variety of eating places, showing hotels, cabins, bed and breakfast homes, and campgrounds. Les Trois Pignons (the Three Gables), cultural centre, houses the Elizabeth LeFort Gallery, which displays some of the beautiful hooked rugs for which Cheticamp is famous. Internationally recognized artist, Dr. LeFort, herself, tells of her craft of sketching, dyeing and hooking magnificent rugs, several of which are shown on the video. Very early in its history, the village embraced the cooperative movement, and now has a Caisse Populaire, grocery store, hardware store, and a rug hooking and supply business--about which an entirely separate video has been made.

      In connection with another winter festival when people dress in costumes and visit each other's homes, a papier mache mask industry has developed, and masks, too, are on display.

      Other attractions are Cheticamp's beautiful and challenging golf course, its beach and local radio station playing music typical of the area. Nature enthusiasts can look forward to seeing many species of birds, herons and bald eagles among them. Moose are not uncommon in the surrounding forests, while whale watching cruises often spot pods of whales.

      From Cheticamp, the renowned Cabot Trail leads tourists through beautiful Cape Breton scenery, shown in the video at the height of its glory in autumn colors.

      While the video can serve as a tourist advertisement, it also offers an intriguing example of French culture in Acadian Cape Breton.

Highly Recommended.

Joan Payzant, a former teacher and teacher-librarian, lives in Dartmouth, NS.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364