Hooked Mat

Tales and Treasures from the rich legacy of the Hudson’s Bay Company
Written by Amelia Fay Posted November 30, 2023

There isn’t a lot of detail on where this mat came from, but it fits the look and style of a very robust early twentieth-century craft industry set up in Newfoundland and Labrador through the Grenfell Mission. The mission provided the earliest medical care for remote communities on Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula and up the coast of Labrador.

Dr. Wilfred Grenfell initiated mission handicrafts, including hooked mats, to provide additional income for coastal families. Although mat hooking was not unknown to the women who had settled there, the Grenfell style became standardized through the sharing of kits and resources. This design features a biscuit box house and what appears to be a mission building with a red roof.

The mat was part of a larger collection of artifacts donated in 1940 to the HBC Museum Collection from the Canadian Committee of the Hudson’s Bay Company. This committee was formed in 1912, initially as a Winnipeg-based advisory committee to help the Hudson’s Bay Company’s governor and board oversee Canadian operations.

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This article originally appeared in the December 2023-January 2024 issue of Canada’s History.

Amelia Fay is the curator of the HBC Collection at the Manitoba Museum

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