Recently I was asked by an artist what the landscape means to me. A simple question, but it strikes at the heart of the Upper Canada Mercantile and why I decided to work with the natural resources available in our Fibreshed. The landscape plays such a major role in the psyche of Canadians. But to me, and I’m sure many others, the meaning of landscape goes beyond imagining A.Y. Jackson Jack Pines and lakes. I default to the french concept of terroir, which translates to mean the soil, climate and culture of the people shape the flavour of the wine. So too does the soil, climate and culture of the people I work with dictate the colours and designs of the blankets. To me they are inextricably linked, the landscape or bioregion that supports us and males the blankets possible. All of the blankets, throws and scarfs that we produce are made using 100% wool from farms within our Fibreshed. The blanket featured has dark charcoal grey handspun Blue Faced Leicester from Migration Arts, light grey (Eesit) Shetland from Chassagne, creamy white Gotland/Finn cross from All Sorts Acre and features medium grey meat sheep and alpaca from Freelton Fibre Mill. Some of the wool was processed and spun at Wellington Fibres, the rest either spun by hand or at Freelton Fibre Mill. The landscape supports these farmers by providing food for their sheep, grass to graze, trees for shelter and a home for wildlife. Their sheep fertilize the landscape as they forage, providing nutrience for the soil that can then sequester carbon. The mills are supported by the farmers.
The weaver brings her cultural knowledge and design aesthetic, her craft and skill to the final product. We work with Deborah Livingston-Lowe, a talented weaver, to bring life to historical patterns from 19th century Ontario and Quebec. Deep rooted traditions that have survived generations, sometimes barely, and are being recreated using what is available. Every step of the process from shearing to spinning and weaving, happens within a region once called Upper Canada. The landscape supports this process as it supports each of the people involved. Our promise is to insure that our blankets are respectful of the people and ecology that we rely on and that we may give back to those that make them possible.
Find our throws and scarfs on the Upper Canada Fibreshed Store
Upper Canada Mercantile founder Becky Porlier, has an MSc in Capacity Building from the University of Guelph where she studied rural issues and development. She studied Anthropology and Fine Art during her BA at Wilfrid Laurier University. She is the mother of tiny human that reminds her to love what you do and the rest will follow.