Enamoured with Hudson’s Bay Blankets & Métis History

It’s been an incredibly busy year for me with the set up of my art studio & gallery, 100 Braid St Studios but things are finally starting to settle into a routine.  This leaves me time for some of my passions and more time for creating my own art.

Recently, I have become enamoured with Hudson’s Bay Blankets.  It started when it was time to decorate the Studio for winter.  Since we have a fireplace lounge area and I was putting one of my landscape paintings on the mantel I wanted the feeling of warmth. I dug out a pair of snow shoes, a plaid pillow, my vintage HBC popcorn tin and my copy-pseudo HBC blanket.  IMG_2478

Over the years I’ve searched for an authentic HBC blanket but short of purchasing new I have kind of given up. There is a copy blanket in the photo but it’s not the same.Authentic HBC blankets are not something I see very often in antique or vintage stores anymore and the only ones I have found where in horrible condition or so expensive I’d practically have to sell my home to buy one. They certainly are collectible.

Joyce at Nova Métis says she finds them occasionally & she told me last year to buy even those in horrible condition because you can work with the scraps. She’s made some purses in the past and they were gorgeous.  Must put one on my wish list for 2015.

So now that I have a bit more time I’ve been doing research on the blankets and I’ve been playing around using a very limited colour palette with only HBC  blanket colours.  It’s been interesting and challenging.  I’m not yet ready to share any of the work but I thought I would share some of the interesting tidbits about HBC blankets that I’ve found fascinating.

The History of the HBC Blanket for the very source, HBC
Their FAQ page is the best because it answers all those things you ever wanted to know, like What are Points?
Hbc Point Blanket FAQs

  1. What are points and what do they mean?
  2. What do the colours of the stripes mean?
  3. Where are point blankets made today?
  4. How can I determine the age of my blanket?
  5. I have an old Hbc point blanket. Is it valuable?
  6. Can I wash my blanket? How should I take care of it?
  7. What colours have the blankets been made in?
  8. My blanket has four sets of stripes and is twice as long as it should be. Is this a mistake?
  9. Do you still sell blanket coats?
  10. I live in the U.S. Where can I purchase Hbc point blankets?
  11. How long has Hudson’s Bay Company been selling blankets?
  12. What was a traditional capote like?
  13. Where can I find out more information about Hbc point blankets?
  14. Why is the blanket stripe blue in your advertising when it’s actually black?
  15. I live in the U.K. or Europe. Where can I purchase Hbc point blankets?
  16. I have heard that Hbc sent blankets infested with smallpox to infect the First Nations.  Is there any truth to this story?

downloadA website by Harold Tichenor that is very informative.  He is an authority on HBC blankets. and has published two books: The Blanket: an Illustrated History of the Hudson’s Bay Point Blanket (Quantum/HBC, Toronto, 2002) and The Collector’s Guide to Point Blankets (Cinetel, Bowen Island, 2003).  He has consulted with the Hudson’s Bay Company and helped build a collection of examples of all of their blankets as well as conducted seminars in various stores.

And this posting wouldn’t be complete without a link to the Hudson’s Bay Art Collection. I still haven’t probbed all of the depths yet.

And more art featuring HBC blankets. Click on paintings to see the original source & credits.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Malloy in Victoria in 2012 or 2013.  Love his work.
blanketstripAnd one of my all time favorite artists, Aaron Paquette

painting_Max_s-trade offs



BC: Aboriginal Arts & Culture Day Camp during Teachers Strike

Aboriginal Day camp

Braid St Studios Aboriginal Arts & Crafts Day Camp
Tuesday September 2 to Friday September 5
9:00am – 3:00pm daily
Ages 8-12   $210.00 + GST

To help out parents during the BC teachers Federation job action, 100 Braid St Studios is providing a variety of activities that focus on aboriginal arts and crafts during the week of September 2 and beyond. Camp is scheduled to run September 2-5 and 8-12.  Additional weeks will be booked as needed.

The Aboriginal Arts & Craft day camp for children 8-12 will focus on teaching history, culture, language and traditional arts and crafts.  The focus for the first several weeks will be on the history and arts of the Metis people.  Each day will include storyteling, music and dance and will introduce children to a variety of projects such as finger weaving, embroidery, and beading.  At least one day will feature making bannock.  Each day will be led by an instructor who is either a professional artist or traditional artisan.  If the strike continues for more than two weeks the program will expand to include other First Nations and Inuit arts and crafts.  All materials included.

Class size for this program is limited to 10.

Camp will run rom 9:00am – 3:00pm daily. Doors open at 8:45 only. All children must be picked up by 3:15 as there will be no supervision available after this time.  100 Braid St is working on providing after school care-please see the website.  Please provide lunch and snacks for the entire day and exclude anything with nuts to avoid any concerns with allergies.

At the end of the strike or each month the strike continues some of the children’s art will be displayed in their very own Gallery Showing on a Sunday from 2:00-4:00pm.  Parents will be notified of dates and are encouraged to attend along with family and friends.  Your children’s art will be available to take with you after the viewing.

For more information please see the 100 Braid St Studios website.


BC: Aboriginal Art Series – Children’s Métis Culture Classes Aug 21 & 28

Metis Children's Collage2 I am really excited to announce 4 classes to educate children about Métis culture and history. Each 2 hour class will be held at 100 Braid St Studios and taught by traditional artisan, Mechtild Morin.

Session 1:  Introduction to Métis Culture & Arts
Children and tweens will learn the history of the Métis & the Métis sash, explore finger weaving while creating a bracelet, and learn about the importance of Metis voyageurs in the Canadian fur trade.

Session 2:  Music
The 2nd Session in this children’s series will focus on music. Activities will include storytelling using the book Fiddle Dance, learning traditional jigging with the help of a wooden toy “jiggerman”, playing the spoons and making a fingerwoven sash key chain.

Session 3:  Beading
In this session children will have the opportunity to try beading, to learn about the Métis flag and it’s meaning and practice jigging.

Session 4:  Embroidery & Language
Activities in this fourth session will focus on the traditional craft of Métis embroidery and the Michif Language. Children will learn some Michif words and play a traditional first nations game.

Register online here.  Price for each class per single child is $25.  Reduced prices for 2 or more siblings.

If the summer series doesn’t work for your schedule please be sure to look at our calendar for September as we are planning after school sessions over a period of several weeks.


BC: Classes for Traditional Métis Finger Weaving – July & Aug

Our first Traditional finger weaving class with Mechtild Morin was a huge success!  We photo (3)are offering two more workshops this summer.

July 26 1-5pm
August 9 1-5pm

Mechtild explains the history and use of the Métis Sash design but she also explains how finger weaving was a traditional art practised by quite a number of First Nations and by many French voyageurs.  Although this class is listed for beginners if you have taken the class before or have some experience in finger weaving Mechtild will assist you at whatever level of skill you are at.

photo (4)The price is only $15.00 for adults and $10 for children & youth ages 10-16.  This is an introductory price for the summer and you can register online. We need 10 people to run a class.

Please share with others in lower mainland Métis and Aboriginal communities.


100 Braid St Studios is really easy to get to via skytrain, transit or car.

A new space for Metis Culture

100 Braid St Studios1As I posted in April I was in the middle of renovating a 5,600 square foot warehouse in New Westminster into an Art Studio.  Well, a few months later the doors of 100 Braid St Studios are open and I find myself surrounded every day by other artists and beautiful art. There are 13 working artists studios, which are all full, a photography room (rentable by the hour, a splatter room where you can create a Jackson Pollock painting or “trash your dress” by paint bombing it.


One of the best things is that Mechtild Morin, the incredible traditional artisan I met in Saskatchewan and who taught me to finger weave is part of the studio and we have scheduled weaving workshops!

Learn traditional Métis Sash finger weaving during her workshop on June 28. Prices to attend just cover the cost of materials which will be provided and will give Mechtild something for her time.  You can register online here & we are hoping for 10 people to run a class.  Please share with others!

100 Braid St Studios is really easy to get to via skytrain, transit or car.

We are also hosting a variety of different fun painting events and will be adding fine art classes soon. Here is the New Westminster NewsLeader story about 100 Braid St Studios. Click here on the photo to read it.


Life changes, Art, & a Commitment to Métis Culture

I find it hard to believe that my last posting here was in December.  Life got very interesting for me around the end of October when I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and started a three-month medical leave.  During my time off I realized that I needed to leave my job in healthcare and the work I have been doing as a patient & family advocate.

Near the end of December an idea for an inclusive art studio and gallery business that would encapsulate all aspects of my life took flight.  Time I would have spent blogging over the past few months was used in doing research, writing a business plan, creating a new website, getting social media set up and meeting with artists and artisans who are interested in coming into the space.  On March 1 I took possession of the second floor of 100 Braid St, a 1928 warehouse with 5,600 square feet in New Westminster.  March 21 was my last official day of work at BC Children’s Hospital.

I have long been searching for a way to leave my job at the hospital and work in the arts. Through 100 Braid St Studios I will be able to do that.  But there is more.  One of the most exciting aspects of opening the studio is that I will be able to provide a workshop space to help keep Métis arts such as beading and weaving alive.

Here is information about the studios:

100 Braid St Studios is an inclusive working art studio for New Westminster and Lower 100 Braid St - Concept-Decor Space Plan copyMainland artists that allows visitors to be inspired artistically and to learn from the artists practicing in the studio. Studio artists produce fine art & craft in the form of paintings, sculpture, fiber, jewellery making, photography, and mixed media.

As our philosophy is the expansion of the dialog around the ever-blurring boundaries and continuum of art to craft we provide three programs that foster creativity:

1. Painting or Craft workshops focus on the fun and social aspects of getting together in a group to produce art.
2. Fine art classes cover the basics of a number of painting techniques, colour theory and artistic exploration.
3. Cultural Workshops feature contemporary and traditional Métis crafts such as beading,  and weaving.

We are not only inclusive of all types of art but we are inclusive in cultural diversity, language and ability. We provide workshops and classes in:
ASL (American Sign Language)
ESL (for new immigrant) certified instructor.
Adaptive format for adults and children with disabilities

The Studio also provides an alternative venue for corporate team building, private meetings and celebratory events.


I would be honoured if you would visit the new 100 Braid St Studios website, follow me there on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook.

Twitter @100braidst
Instagram 100braidststudios
Pinterest 100braidst
Facebook www.facebook.com/100BraidSt

Please also pass on this information to any Métis artists who might be interested in being a part of the studio.

A future post will give more details on the help and financial assistance that I have received from the First Nations community in order to be able to reach my goal. I am certain the information will be very helpful for many Métis who have the entrepreneurial spirit and want to follow a path in making their dreams come true too.

Métis Geneology – Tracing our Family Tree

On Tuesday my brother and I made a visit to the Nova Métis Heritage Society. As always Ken and Joyce were warm and welcoming.  It was a busy day and we got to meet a number of other great people there too.

Even though we have both been members of the society for a couple of years and we have been able to trace our family tree, getting our mothers and grandmothers long form birth certificates for geneological purposes has been a challenge.  When we applied to Saskatchewan EHealth they wanted a letter from the Métis association we belong too. Despite sending that off they refused our request and have now added additional requirements including showing ID from the person who writes the letter.

Ken was really great in giving us everything we needed and very helpful.  So I’ve sent in the all of the information and hopefully we will finally have everything we need for provincial and federal recognition.

Frustration is sometimes a good thing–when I came home I decided to get my family tree history organized.  While looking on line for a printable paper tree I found WikiTree a FREE, yes I’ll say it again, free collaborative worldwide family tree website for geneology.  I’ve always believed thatIMG_1595 it is a persons right to know their ancestry and it shouldn’t be for only a privileged few who choose to pay the sometimes exhorbitant prices of other geneology websites.  As soon as I searched for my family name, Parisien/Parisian I found a link.  Within a few hours I was introduced through email to my ninth cousin once removed.  He has some information about our family but I feel very happy because I will be able to add a great deal of information to the profiles that I already have but it will also prompt me to connect with relatives and ensure that our family history is preserved on-line for all time.