This quilt was handmade for a historian working for the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Written by Cortney Pachet

Posted January 20, 2021

This quilt was hand-sewn by Margaret “Granny” Seymour in 1957 for Malvina Bolus, a historian working with the Hudson’s Bay Company who was the editor of The Beaver magazine from 1958 to 1972. Bolus passed the quilt on to Barbara Johnstone, who was the curator of the HBC Collection. Seymour was nearly 105 years old when she made the quilt, working on it from nine to five each day without the aid of glasses. She was the daughter of HBC factor James Boucher (sometimes spelled Bouchey) and his wife, a woman of Dakelh (Carrier) descent.

Seymour was born near her father’s post of Fort St. James on Stuart Lake, in what is now the northern interior of British Columbia. She was baptized in 1860 at Stuart Lake by a Reverend McCoulgan — who estimated her year of birth as sometime between 1852 and 1855 — and she moved with her father to different posts in what was then the New Caledonia district, eventually making Prince George her home.

Seymour was twice married, and both her husbands were involved with the Hudson’s Bay Company. She had eight children. An iconic figure in Prince George history, Seymour was known for her healing and midwifery skills. In addition to quilting into her second century, she split her own wood and on Sundays walked three kilometres to church, until her death from influenza in March 1966.

Cortney Pachet is the assistant curator of the HBC Collection at the Manitoba Museum.

This article originally appeared in the February-March 2021 issue of Canada’s History.

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