By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Oct. 20, 2012
The gift sat for nearly 65 years in Mary MacGregor’s home, wrapped in a plastic bag, tucked away in a linen closet at her Garibaldi Estate home.
Until this summer, when MacGregor went to the Brackendale Fall Fair on Sept. 8.
There, looking at the historical displays put on by the Squamish Historical Society, she was reminded of a piece of history that she has carried with her along, tucked away, but never entirely forgotten.
It’s a quilt her mother-in-law gave her in 1947, when MacGregor and her husband, Lewis MacGregor, were leaving Woodfibre for Vancouver.
“It was a memento for our stay in my in-law’s place in Woodfibre,” she says.
The quilt has 264 names on it, all once citizens of Woodfibre, a town that survives only in memories of those who lived there.
“I don’t know the history of the quilt, I wish I knew who made it,” MacGregor says.
She doesn’t remember why her mother-in-law picked up that particular gift for her.
MacGregor, who also served in the Navy during the Second World War, says none of her children grew up in Woodfibre, and had little emotional connection to it.
So, she put it away in a safe place, until the historical society displays rekindled her memory.
There might be some people still alive who have their names printed on the quilt.
But most of them, she fears, are no longer in this world.
Mary’s husband, Lewis MacGregor, grew up in Woodfibre, and after he finished his apprenticeship in Vancouver, he came to work at Woodfibre in 1946.
They lived with his parents for a year, but then returned to Vancouver.
MacGregor found Woodfibre a tad bit insular, but she has fond memories of the people she met there.
One of the women gave her a Woodfibre cook book, a tattered collection of food recipes she still has, and occasionally uses.
“It was a good crowd of people, and I liked them very much,” she said.
The president of Squamish Historical Society, Bianca Peters, said she felt honoured in being entrusted with the Woodfibre quilt.
“The quilt is a relic that speaks to the memory of a thriving community that no longer exists,” Peters remarked.
“It’s amazing to see the signatures of real people who represent the history of Woodfibre.”
The closing of Woodfibre, Peters said, was an event which was an inspiration for starting the society.
The historical society is now compiling a list of people whose names are on the quilt.