Grace Helen Mowat and the Making of Cottage Craft
By Diana Rees
With Ronald Rees
Knitting is a booming pastime, enjoying a resurgence of interest, spawning books, movies, a brisk online trade in wool and knitted goods — even trade fairs. In Canada, Cottage Craft has long held a strong reputation for its fine wool, dyed to the palette of the local landscape, ... Read more
Knitting is a booming pastime, enjoying a resurgence of interest, spawning books, movies, a brisk online trade in wool and knitted goods — even trade fairs. In Canada, Cottage Craft has long held a strong reputation for its fine wool, dyed to the palette of the local landscape, and the fine craftsmanship of the women who weave and knit its quality materials. Behind Cottage Craft is the story of a woman of vision and remarkable resolve. Grace Helen Mowat looked upon traditional rural crafts — knitting, weaving, and rug hooking — as cash crops for the straitened farm women of Charlotte County, New Brunswick. In 1911, unmarried and with limited means, she commissioned a handful of St. Andrews women to make rugs according to her designs, which were then sent to Montreal. The Arts and Crafts movement was in full swing — the rugs sold quickly. This is the story of how Grace Helen Mowat built Cottage Craft into a burgeoning home-grown business that continues to attract customers the world over.
Diana Rees was born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. In 1983, after a career as teacher and librarian, she became owner and operator of the Sea Captain's Loft in St. Andrews, adjacent to Cottage Craft. Upon retirement, Diana began a biography of Grace Helen Mowat and a history of Cottage Craft, but died in 2007, leaving the manuscript to be completed by her husband, Ronald.
Ronald Rees was born in Wales and from 1964 until 1985 taught historical geography at the University of Saskatchewan. After moving to St. Andrews, he became an adjunct professor at Mount Allison. This allowed him to write almost full-time, except for summer handyman duties at the Sea Captain's Loft.