Canadian History on the BBC

In the summer of 2008 I was interviewed by Ray Mears, part of a series on Canadian History. Ray had been recommended to me by Dr Katherine Pettipas, curator at the Manitoba Museum. Ray Mears interviewed me on the subject of fingerwoven sashes, the sort of thing worn by personnel of the transportation industry in the early 1800’s. Employees of the Hudson’s Bay Company transported goods from seagoing vessels to the far interior of Canada by canoe. Now and again, when one river gave out, and it was necessary to walk a little ways to the next river, the goods (and canoe) were carried. This walking and carrying is called ‘portage’, from the French word. Because these individuals managed such heavy loads, good abdominal and back support was recommended … hence the sash, worn twice around the middle, and tied tightly.
Anyhow, the construction of these belts, the very low-tech method, no loom involved, is my specialty, also known as Fingerweaving. As most of these pieces feature an arrow shape, the french called them arrow belts, literally ‘ceinture fléchée’.

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