Lighthouses of Newfoundland and Labrador

FLighthouses – guardians of our coastline – over 180 of these towering structures along with more than 300 other navigational lights have been put into service in the province during the last two centuries. They have given immeasurable service to our fishermen and other mariners and are a part of our culture, especially for the vast majority of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who have lived within sight of the ocean.

Lighthouses were traditionally manned by at least two lightkeepers who worked long hours to maintain the lights. Technology has greatly changed the operations and today many are remotely controlled and fully automated reducing the need not only for the lightkeepers but for many of the lighthouses as we know them. Several have already disappeared. The Department of Fisheries & Oceans, Canada is looking to divest itself of many lighthouses (although the Canadian Coast Guard will continue to maintain navigational components of the properties.) 69 in the province are eligible under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act of the Federal Government; however, by the May 29, 2012 deadline very few petitions with plans for suggested viable use of the lighthouses had been received by Parks Canada. This means that many of those lighthouses are facing removal and a part of our heritage will disappear.

In 2011, Joan Foster a member of The Rug Hooking Guild of Newfoundland and Labrador, suggested a project to pay tribute to these well-loved landmarks through the art of rug hooking. The Executive agreed and a call for submissions, to be ready by Rug Camp 2012, went out to members. A total of 41 hooked pieces were brought to Camp in August, varying in style from realistic to folk art and in size from quite small to a large 22″ x 46″ piece. Another four pieces were added over the year for a total of 45 lighthouse rugs. An accompanying binder documented each piece with a picture of the original lighthouse, information on the piece as well as an artist’s statement by the matmaker. From comments in the guestbook, many of the people who viewed the display were amazed by the ingenuity and the quality of work done by members of our Guild. Comments included “Unbelievable work!”, “Fabulous!”, “Fantastic!” “This is painting with fabric and yarn.”

The display of lighthouse mats then toured the province for a year. It went first to the Twillingate Museum, each of the Arts & Culture Centres in the province as follows: Grand FallsWindsor, Gander, Labrador City, Stephenville, Corner Brook, and St. John’s. It was at the House of Diamonds in Glovertown, the Lester Garland House in Trinity, and at the Art Gallery, Seldom on Fogo Island during the summer of 2013. Special openings, demonstrations and hookins were held at each of these sites. A final display was held at the Twin Ponds Rug Camp in August, 2013 after which pieces were returned to their owners. A DVD of the exhibit was produced and sold throughout the year. As well, an article will appear in the November/ December 2013 issue of Rug Hooking magazine and pictures of all the fantastic lighthouse mats will be posted on the magazine’s website as well as at this location at that time. Be sure to check back for another look at that time.

For more Lighthouse Rugs, please click here

I Dream

“Many wonderful things can happen when a simple thought is expressed”

Winnie Glavine

The arrival of RMHNL was a long time coming. The whole province was excited when the reality of a House being built in St. John’s was finally announced.

To support Our House and the children and families who use it, we chose to produce a tapestry based on the theme ‘I Dream’ and called on children of the Janeway Children’s Hospital to help create the visuals.

Twenty-four drawings of dreams that had helped carry kids and their families through difficult times were received from current and former partients from all parts of the province.

With support from our Guild and my employer, McInnes Cooper, an Atlantic based law firm with an office in St. John’s, and the promise of wall space at the House for at least one medium size piece we were on our way.

Children dream of the ‘simple’ things of life, things we often take for granted: a home, a family, friends, sunshine, growing up, being healthy, and free to play.

Members of the Guild turned those drawings into hooked pieces, which together made a beautiful tapestry, clearly reflecting our mission:  To create a beautiful and colourful reflection of the optimism
in a child’s mind while spending time away from home and family.

On April 15, 2014, the I Dream Hooked Rug Project came to a completion when 45 little rugs were placed in collage fashion on a wall at Ronald McDonald House in St. John’s, NL.

After nearly three years, the hooked tapestry was presented by Doug Skinner, Regional Lead Partner of McInnes Cooper to Gerry Beresford, President of the Board of Trustees for RMH.

Thirty-five Guild members volunteered to hook the primary pieces of the tapestry, but we also wanted to involve the general public. Amber’s picture of sliding down the rainbow to the pot of gold was broken into pieces, which were taken all over the province so people could have an opportunity to hook. Many local celebrities hooked, including Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellows, Allan Hawco of Republic of Doyle, Artist Gerry Squires and none other than Mr. Gordon Pinsent himself.

Also trying their hand were 23 of the 24 young people who submitted drawings, together with their families and friends. Heads of major corporations, mayors, members from all levels of government, medical personnel, church leaders, Canadian Ambassador to Ireland Loyola Hearn, RNC Detective Paula Walsh, Members of HMCS Cabot of the Royal Canadian Navy, and lawyers and staff of McInnes Cooper all took part. In total, approximately 1000 people, from the very young to the young at heart, hooked on the project and signed our book of greetings for the kids at RMHNL.

Once the mats were complete, an on-line auction gave individuals and corporations the opportunity to ‘sponsor’ the placement of a Dream on the wall at RMHNL. The minimum bid for each Dream was $500.00, with the exception of Amber’s Rainbow, which opened at $1,000.00

In total, the project raised $25,000.00 for Ronald McDonald House NL.

While our Guild members played a very important role, this project could not have been a success without the amazing support of McInnes Cooper.

From its inception, the project was blessed to be served by committee members Jackie Alcock, Artist, of Corner Brook; Margaret Angel, Photographer, and Marilyn Melvin, Retired Nurse, of St. John’s; Dorothy Fewer, Retired Social Worker of Grand Falls-Windsor; Karen Brake, Retired Teacher of Pasadena; Perry Kielly, Artist, of Gander; Ruth Chaffey, Retired LPN of Lewisporte; Lenny, Margaret’s corgie; and yours truly.

Our Guild set out to create art for Ronald McDonald House because we wanted to do something nice for the kids and their families. We soon realized that it was not the Guild nor McInnes Cooper that was doing something special. Rather it was the 24 young artists who’d sent their dreams who were giving us a gift. We were just the vehicles to share their message of hope.

While the $25,000 was a tremendous gift for Ronald McDonald House, we hope the tapestry will serve positive distraction and comfort for families staying at the House – even if for only a few moments.

Our finished piece:

Click on the image to see a larger version of the image (10 MB large file). This photo by Duncan de Young (see more at:

The Rug Hooking Guild of Newfoundland and Labrador together with McInnes Cooper sincerely appreciate that so many took the opportunity to help us with this project.

For the children staying at Ronald McDonald House, St. John’s, NL and all over the world, we quote Ronan Keating’s song, Somewhere over the Rainbow:

“We truly wish that tomorrow’s skies will be blue, the clouds will be far behind, troubles will have melted like lemon drops and the dreams that you dare to dream have really all come true”.

Hooked History of Cuper’s Cove – Cupids 1610-2010


Molly White has always enjoyed creating with textiles. Her love of rug hooking began in 2003 when she took Joan Foster’s course at Woody Point and she’d rug hook as a hobby while she and her husband raised three daughters.

Since then, Molly has exhibited her mats from one end of the province to the other including during the “Writers at Woody Point” annual event and at The Rooms in St. John’s.  She’s also been fortunate enough to sell some of her beautiful pieces to locals and tourists alike.

With many courses to her credit and her daughters raised and out the door, her hobby became a full time career in creating textile art when in 2006 she opened Molly Made Fibre Art Studio at Woody Point. 

Molly’s piece, ‘Cupids 1610-2010’ explains that the name of the island portion of our province became one word and Labrador was eventually included. Blueberries reflect our various forms of nature.  The shape behind the berries reminds us that Cupids is situated on the island portion of our province. The rust color may depict our vast quantity of mineral resources, in particular, iron ore on both the island and Labrador.  You’ll notice how the sea meets the horizon,

Hooked with yarn the piece is reflective of the Grenfell style of rug hooking. Her half-moon shaped mat depicts the founding and present dates, the first flag and the original name of Cupids – “Cuper’s Cove” and forms the banner for this Cupid’s celebration piece.

Born and raised in Port de Grave, Audrey Burke, a retired teacher, has lived all over our Province including coastal and eastern Labrador.  For the past 35 years, she has made her home in Grand Falls-Windsor where she raised three children.

Audrey remembers hearing the stories of her grandmothers ‘matting’ and recalls the mat rags bag in the cabinet under the stairs of her childhood home. In 1997, Audrey learned to rug hook when she took a class being offered by the Guild’s first president, Linda Peckford. 

 Audrey draws on stories from her childhood in her rug hooking and recalls hearing the local lore of how John Guy, on a stop at Port de Grave, was advised to cross Bay de Grave to the eventual site of his colony, Cuper’s  Cove, now Cupids.  John Guy is believed to have met up with the Beothuk Indians in 1612 somewhere on the North side of Trinity Bay.

Her mat entitled “Guy’s Beothuk Encounter” is hooked using Briggs and Little 100% wool yarn in primitive fashion and depicts Guy’s first experience with the reclusive Red Indians with whom he shared a meal and traded trinkets for a wolf skin. 

Most of us Newfoundlanders, of a certain age, can say we remember our mother hooking a mat when the day’s work was done.  Ruth Chaffey, a retired License Practical Nurse, who has served four years as President of our Guild, was an experienced rug hooker long before her mother finally picked up a hook in 2002. 

Having taken her first rug hooking class from Linda Peckford in Lewisporte in 1995, Ruth is now working on #64.  

Born and raised in Millertown, Ruth settled with her husband and two sons in Lewisporte, where she’s lived for 29 years.  

Ruth particularly enjoys researching older traditional Newfoundland and Labrador rugs and reproducing them in hopes of keeping the designs fresh. She has exhibited her mats at various venues and has been fortunate enough to sell some of her pieces.  An honorary life-time member of our Guild, Ruth has had her work commissioned to reflect the buildings of Battle Harbour’s historic site in Labrador.

For “Water Boy” Ruth has used new and recycled wool fabric to depict one of the many chores of the early settlers to Cupids.  Hooked using a #3 cut, this mat is one of three in this piece which directly relates to the human side of the settling of Cuper’s Cove and shows some of the hardships endured as the settlers strived to stay in the New Founde Land.

Joan Foster, an adult educator in Springdale where she makes her home, first learned to hook mats from her mother in 1979.  Since that time, Joan has taken numerous rug hooking courses with her first official class in Nova Scotia with Doris Wentzell in 1993.  At Change Islands in 1995, Joan participated in her first official Newfoundland class with Edie Cole, an instructor from Nova Scotia who was invited here to help establish a Guild in this province.

A founding member of the Rug Hooking Guild of Newfoundland and Labrador Joan has served in many capacities on the Executive, including President.  During her term as President,  she was instrumental in having our book ‘Hooked Mats of Newfoundland and Labrador, Beauty Born of Necessity’ published, of which our Guild is very proud. 

This piece ‘Fish on the Flake’ represents the importance of the cod fish and the fishing industry as a whole from the time of  early settlement to the present.  It is hooked using wool flannel, hand dyed and as is, in #4 and #5 cuts, in an Impressionistic style. 

Lynn Palmer of South River fell in love with rug hooking in 1993 upon discovering ‘something’ rolled up in her mother’s linen closet.  That something turned out to be a hooked mat depicting the lighthouse at Point Amour in Labrador which was hooked in Grenfell style.

 Lynn remembers hearing the stories of how women would gather in her grandmother’s kitchen at the Wireless Station to hook mats and share stories.

 In 2001 Lynn learned to rug hook at a class, offered by Joan Foster, in Eastport.   Since then, she has taken courses in Fancy Stitches, Fine Shading, Portrait and Monochromatic. This mat is primarily hooked in Monochromatic style with Briggs & Little 100% wool yarn.

 Lynn is inspired by all things around her but she has a certain consideration for women and in their ‘getting through’. This mat entitled, ‘Please God!’ needs no explanation.

 Lynn has captured what many Newfoundlanders know all too well – watching and waiting to see their ‘man’s’ boat break the horizon, praying he’ll soon be off the water, safe and sound.

Betty Heath, of Lake Elmo, Minnesota, likes to place her initial love of rug hooking squarely in the hands of John Cabot.

On a cruising trip with her husband, Richard, from the far western end of Lake Superior to Newfoundland and Labrador to participate in the 1997 Cabot 500 Celebrations, Betty saw a hooked mat on the floor of another boat. 

Feeling their boat, the “P Gannet” needed a mat, she set out to learn more about rug hooking.  Her search first took her to the Rug Hooking Magazine which led her to our first Guild President, Linda Peckford.  Betty has been a member of our Guild ever since.

A self-taught rug hooker, Betty also enjoys smocking, weaving, carving wooden dolls and, of course, cruising around the lakes and oceans of North America.

Hooked with new and recycled wool fabric in #3 cut, this piece ‘Flags over Cupids’ represents the various forms of government over the community since it was first established in 1610. The background colors represent our tartan.  Forming a frame of the mat is a traditional Newfoundland border, of ‘hit and miss’, which has a nautical flair encompassing her love of the water and sailing.

Having raised 6 children Betty and her husband, grandparents to 8 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren, live to travel which brings her back to Newfoundland every year for the annual Rug School where she learns and teaches all in the same moment.

We are pleased to have our Guild’s very special friend from the States represented here in our celebration piece of 400 years of Cupids.

Marilyn Moore says “when I hook rugs, it is always the scenery that attracts me, then the evidence of human occupation”.

 As an Anglican Priest, Marilyn has lived in every province, except Prince Edward Island, and in every corner of Newfoundland though not yet in Labrador.

In this piece “Old Boat at Cupids” adapted from a photo, Marilyn has captured a way of life now practically lost.  The stage, with its faded paint, the overturned boat left to rot and decay with the flowers and weeds growing around it, and the no longer used make-and-break engine, are all symbols of days gone by.  But, Marilyn has also captured the landscape, the beautiful blue sky and the ever present sea in the background.

 Some 20 years ago, Marilyn saw samples of Grenfell hooking on the Lower North Shore of Quebec.  When she moved to Woody Point in 2005 she learned to hook when she took a class from Molly White.  She has enhanced her skills through classes in Creative Stitching, Fine Shading, Pictorial, Grenfell and Celtic styles, many of which she has worked in the piece which is hooked using strips of t-shirt fabric depicting an actual landmark of Cupids.

Jennifer (Archer) Abbott has travelled the world in her work as a successful architect.  Born and raised in Ontario, she is, in her words, married to her ‘bayman’ Newfoundlander and quite settled in her Maddox Cove home, near St. John’s. 

Jennifer first came to rug hooking when she visited a gallery in Tors Cove and was drawn to a hooked mat hanging on the wall.

Mostly self taught, Jennifer has a passion for rug hooking that has garnered first prize in a challenge mat competition offered by the Guild.  She’s also placed her mats for exhibit and has been fortunate enough to sell some of the 60 mats she’s hooked since that first trip to the Southern Shore just a few short years ago.

In her rug hooking, Jennifer draws from anywhere and everywhere to create the designs for her mats.  Her work ranges from classical to whimsical while some are traditional or fairy-tale like.

For this piece “Spectacle (of fish) Head (s)”, Jennifer is inspired by the gratitude Newfoundland’s heritage holds for the fishery which allowed the first English settlers to survive here at Cupids.

If you look closely, you’ll see the cod fish which form the landscape of Spectacle Head at Cupids – a literal translation of the heritage and colony that was built on/of cod.  You will also see the teeming schools of fish in the water.

Hooked in a #3 cut of wool fabric dyed to reflect the various blues of the sky and fall of the year, when some say cod fish tastes the sweetest, Jennifer has captured what Newfoundland history is known for and coupled it with her talent to draw.

Jackie Alcock was born, raised and has lived her entire life in Corner Brook, the only one of nine children to remain near to their roots.

While she did work outside the home in her earlier years, her love and gift for the Arts enabled her to stay at home and, with support from her husband Gary, raise their three children.

Jackie obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2008 and has always looked for the female connection in her work. So, it wasn’t surprising when her research of Cupids history led to the “First Child”.

To be the first recorded in history of anything is always remarkable. But to be the first recorded European child of English Descent born in Cuper’s Cove in the New Founde Land was indeed an important event.

Record keeping of this time period was at a minimum. Such information as the sex of the child or the mother’s name was not considered important.  Known only as a child of the man claiming paternity, this birth also holds the distinction of being the first recorded European child of English descent born in Canada. 

In 1613, just three years after the initial arrival, the birth of this child must have been cause for great celebration.  As, surely, these early pioneers must have felt they’d finally arrived!

Only a rug hooker since late 2008 when she took a course by Beverly Neville in Corner Brook, Jackie has hooked this piece in primitive style using 100% wool yarn depicting the early pioneer woman holding her child with the rolling hills and sea in the background.

Soon after Confederation, there was a noticeable shift in Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans moving away from skilled crafts.  The province feared losing a generation of knowledgeable craftspeople. 

In the early 70’s, Anna Templeton of St. John’s was assigned the task of resourcing skilled craftspeople to teach others who would then go throughout the province re-introducing crafts such as weaving, knitting, rug hooking, etc.

Anna invited her niece, Margaret Angel (known to us simply as ‘Angel’) to attend the class. With her grandmother’s hook in hand, Angel set off to see what it was all about. 

Since this first class in 1975, Angel has studied under textile artists in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, British Columbia and Hawaii.  She has not only taught her mother to hook but Angel has been juried by the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador, sold some of her pieces and won awards for others.

The youngest of five children and mother of two grown children, Angel hails from a long line of women interested in history, crafts and the Arts.  Able to draw from a background of photography, visual arts training, her love for the country, and her work at The Rooms, Angel uses a variety of fabrics to create her mats.  She’s even incorporated odd mittens, resulting in beautiful pieces for the wall, floor, benches and stools. 

Hooked with 100% wool, hand dyed and recycled, in the design of “Leaded Diamond Window” Angel shows the actual size of the pane fragments found at the Cupids archaeological site, reflective of the artefact believed to be the first window glass found in Newfoundland and dates to 1610.

The diamond design complements the medium of rug hooking as diamonds and geometrics are one of the traditional patterns used in rural Newfoundland, dating back to our earliest records of mat making.

The free flowing landscape through the window is indicative of her personal style of design and shows the Cupids headland with a rich bog and rock landscape in the foreground.  In contrast, the window pane ‘reflects’ the habitation of settlers.

We are pleased to have the Archivist of our Guild participate in this Cupids 400 Celebration piece.

Co-chairs:Jennifer Button and Winnie Glavine
Committee Members: Margaret Angel , Judy Brockie and Diana Dove



This project was supported by:
McInnes Cooper,an Atlantic based Law Firm with
an office in St. John’s NL
To view the slide show of the completed mats, click here