Bev MacPhail is asking people to help her solve a double mystery.
Like a modern day Nancy Drew, the Argyle Shore resident is on a quest to locate a missing quilt made by members of the Lady Argyle Loyal Orange Benevolent Association (LOBA) in the 1960s.
“At the time, each person paid a whopping 25 cents per name for the privilege of embroidering one square with up to a maximum of five names,” says MacPhail, a former member of the now defunct chapter.
Once the needlework was done, the individual squares were sewn together to make the cloth blanket.
“It was intended as a fundraiser. But, mysteriously, the event never took place. It seemed that the quilt just disappeared,” says MacPhail, her eyes growing wide as she tells her story.
“The last thing we heard, it had gone to the drycleaners,” says MacPhail.
And then, as if one wasn’t enough, a second mystery quilt entered her life.
“Out of the blue, I got a phone call from Linda Wright-MacLeod. She told me she had found this old quilt from the Argyle Shore among her mother’s things after she had moved into a nursing home. She wondered if the Argyle Shore WI wanted it,” says MacPhail, a WI member.
“I thought it was the one made in the 1960s, so I said yes. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that this was a heritage quilt, dating back to the early 1900s,” she says.
Made from bleached flour bags and trimmed with a red ruffle, it’s 91 inches long and 64 inches wide. In her research she learned that this quilt dated back to 1903.
“I visited the P.E.I. Archives and the Heritage Foundation, but I wasn’t able to find any other information on it,” says MacPhail.
MacPhail is not the only person intrigued with this quilt. Diana Lariviere became fascinated with it after hearing about it at the WI meeting. She joined in the search, promoting the heritage quilt through Facebook. Then, on Feb. 19, she arranged for it to be on display during the WI’s Founder’s Day workshop in Charlottetown.
“It’s an important story to tell. Although research has been done, there’s still the mystery of it. Why was it made? We know it’s too late for the Boer War and too early for the First World War. So we’re thinking it might have something to do with the building of the community hall in 1902, which was used by the Church of Scotland for their services. Perhaps it was a fundraiser they had organized. That’s what we’re researching now,” says Lariviere, who is a WI member.
Back in her living room, where the quilt is spread out on her sofa, MacPhail has her own theory.
“Maybe they sold tickets on it to raise money to pay for the hall. We hope someone can solve this mystery, as well as the mystery of the missing quilt from the 1960s. If anyone has any information, we would love to hear from them.”
AT A GLANCE
Things known about the mystery quilts
A short list of the names on the missing 1960s quilt includes Roma MacDougall, Amy MacPhail, Bev MacPhail, Donald MacPhail, Douglas MacPhail, Edith MacPhail, Lulu MacPhail, Pauline MacPhail, Florabelle Moore, Florence Potts and Ruby Seller.
There are 42 names on the 1903 quilt. They include Bell Campbell, Boston; Mary Campbell, Argyle Shore; Annie Gordon, Appin Road; John A. Hains, Charlottetown; Rosslin MacDougall, Summerside; Aussie McLean, Boston City Hospital; Grace McLean, Argyle Shore; Goodwill MacPhail, Argyle Shore; and Eliza Webster, Frenchfort.
Anyone with any information about the mystery quilts is asked to contact Bev MacPhail at 675-2851 or Diana Lariviere at 675-3221.