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Garrett Gallery and Factory

Hugh and Suzanne Conrod's book, "Rescued From Oblivion", A Hooked Rug Museum of North American Research Project (copies are available for purchase from the Museum Market Place) chronicles the beautiful pen and ink rug art abandoned for more than half a century in the basement of a damp and moldy former New Glasgow rug pattern factory.  Under a leaking sewage pipe in that same factory they unearthed amazing hand-cut 'mystery' stencils that are now part of the exhibits in the Garrett Gallery and Factory.  They have discovered that a "through the lens" projector (using a candle or tiny kerosene lamp) was used to project the stencil opening a a quarter panel through the lens opening.  This allowed it to be traced in any desired size.  For more information on how the Garrett's patented this technique so they could mass produce patterns and eventually become the largest pattern maker in the world, visit this gallery at the HRMNA.  The last vestiges of equipment from the 1892 Garrett Pattern Factory are being installed in the Factory Gallery.


In this "mystery" pattern rug you can see that the four corners were a stencil that was flipped and enlarged to create the rug.  This is only one of many patterns that were produced using this method.

The Garrett Gallery is currently housing the fifty plus rugs hooked by local woman as part of the "At Grandmother's Knee" program.


Left- Garrett Factory






Working as a volunteer at the Hooked Rug Museum is a challenge as stacks of archival and artifact materials arrive from all over the continent, but there are surprises awaiting as well.  On a recent walk through the exhibit galleries recently I spotted a small gallery and what appeared to be a short man sitting and looking out a display window at me.  Peddler

I jumped in alarm but quickly realized that I was looking at a dummy of an old time peddler sitting in a front parlour to display his pack of merchandise to the pioneer lady of the house.  It had been devised this winter by Founder and Chairperson Suzanne Conrod. 

Such was a common sight in the early 1800's and during the depression years of the early 1900's as unemployed men and women roamed rural areas in wagons, on horseback and on foot to eke out a modest living, as well as meet a need for small items unavailable in most villages.

Most sold a variety of patent medicines, hose, occasional beauty products, tobacco; even non- prescription eye glasses.  In Nova Scotia some sold discards from cotton and woolen mills and were known to peddle small linoleum mats in bright colours, often in a trade for a wonderful hand-made hooked rug.  Such bartering was not uncommon.  Our research team has learned that in one year alone some 23,000 hooked rugs, mostly gathered by peddlers throughout the Maritimes, were sent off by ship to department stores in Boston and New York where they sold in a range of $3 to $5 each.  Undoubtedly such bargains were quickly snapped up.

Be sure to visit the Museum this summer and say hello to my peddler friends.


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