The Barn Quilt Movement
Barn Quilts started in Ohio. The book "Barn Quilts and the American Barn Quilt Trail Movement" tells the whole story. Donna Sue Groves loved quilts and she loved barns. When she and her Mother moved to Adams County, Ohio, she got the idea of brightening up the plain tobacco barn on their property. A few years later her creative idea turned into an economic development and tourism project implemented in 2001.
In Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail Movement, author Suzi Parron takes us to twenty-five states as well as Canada to visit the people and places through which this movement has flourished across America.
Suzi's journey began in Adams County, Ohio, where the quilt trail movement originated. After working with founder Donna Sue Groves, Suzi set out on her own voyage of discovery. She travelled across the country, sometimes alone, sometimes with her faithful barn-quilting pup, Gracie. Together they met dozens of barn owners, barn quilt artists, and committee members who shared their stories.
The tales of the trail are gathered into this book, published in 2012 by Ohio University Press. The book includes more than eighty full-color photographs; it has become a favorite of quilters, travelers, and other fans of Americana.
The idea spread from county to county across the United States. In 2007, Bev Maille, Marg Villneff, and Eleanor Katana in Temiskaming, Ontario were inspired by a barn quilt article in Country Woman magazine. They spearheaded a barn quilt project as part of the International Plowing Match planned for Earlton in 2009 and painted 200 quilt squares. From north of Englehart to Latchford and from Belle Vallee to Elk Lake, barn quilts were installed on barns and historic landmarks in time for the International Plowing Match 2009.
That same year, Denise Corneil’s mother returned from a trip to the U.S. with a barn quilt brochure. Denise was looking for a special idea for the village of Wardsville's 2010 Bicentennial. She had been working with the village of 300 people on a revitalization project. Everyone was intrigued by the barn quilt idea and the project started with stitching a story quilt commemorating Wardsville’s founders, Mr. and Mrs. George Ward, local characters who played a role in the War of 1812. Each of the 30 blocks was painted by a large team of volunteers and installed in and around the village.
In 2011-2012, the Sand Plains Community Development Fund invested in trails across these five counties. This regional project was initiated by E.O.N., an association of representatives from heritage and cultural sites who share a common interest in preserving and promoting heritage and culture in southwestern Ontario.
E.O.N. members created more than 100 barn quilts. In Middlesex, Brant and Norfolk Counties, the trails celebrate key events related to the War of 1812. In Elgin County, the trail follows the historic Talbot Trail. Oxford County barn quilts tell the stories of settlement, community building and rural life.
Mary Gladwin, one of the organizers said, “It was such an amazing project that E.O.N. members decided to continue promoting barn quilts and encourage other cultural-heritage organizations to get involved in the Ontario Barn Quilt Trails movement.”
The Sand Plains Community Development Fund is administered by the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations. The fund targeted community-based initiatives that support regional development, attract and retain people and investment, and stimulate business development and job creation. For more information on the Sand Plains Community Development Fund, please visit http://www.sandplains.ca/cesupport.asp
In 2013, the Ontario Trillium Foundation funded the Ontario Barn Quilt Trails project to promote barn quilt trails throughout Ontario as a way to tell community stories. Funding for this grant is from OTF’s province-wide granting stream. OTF funding is intended to create opportunities for families and individuals of all ages and abilities to become more engaged in their communities. In this case, barn quilts are the medium - an 8 foot square painting of a quilt block installed on a heritage barn.
Prince Edward County is proud to be a part of this exciting Trail-building initiative!