By Lucie Roy
Morinville – After several months of work, the centennial quilt was presented to Mayor Lloyd Bertschi and Council Tuesday night. The quilt will be displayed at the Community Cultural Centre this Sunday in time for the Morinville Christmas Festival. With more than forty square blocks, each is like a good bedtime story of adventure, intrigue, how things were, and what made Morinville what it is today.
One of the quilted blocks is of a large Christmas tree. This story stems from the history files of the Morinville Fire Department and during the years when Ray McDonald was the Fire Chief (circa 1950-1955).The article is about when the Morinville Christmas tree topped Edmonton’s by 12 feet. The Morinville tree was 46 feet tall, the Edmonton tree only 34 feet. The Morinville Christmas tree, placed in front of the Morinville post office, had been a fire department project for three years. A casual statement by Edmonton officials in the newspaper said the Edmonton tree was 50 feet tall. This was questioned by the firemen after seeing a picture of the Edmonton tree in the Edmonton Journal. Fire Chief Ray McDonald, Joseph St. Laurent, Robert St. Laurent, Gerry Ethier, Bert Ethier and Guy Froment defended the honour of Morinville and the Morinville Christmas tree by measuring both trees. The above-mentioned members formed part of the “fact finding committee,” who drove to Edmonton one Friday evening and measured the Edmonton tree. Using a three-piece pole six-feet long, the height of the Morinville tree, they measured the height of the Edmonton tree. This was done by standing the pole on end and estimating where the top of the tree was parallel to the pole. Once measured, it was found Edmonton’s tree was 34 feet high – 12 feet shorter than the Morinville tree.
Another square tells the story of Mel-O, the Morinville cat that was indicted in the Purina Animal Hall of Fame in 2007. Little nine-year old Alex Rose, who had Type 1 diabetes, was sleeping when his cat woke him up. The cat was acting in an abnormal behaviour and was very insistent to wake up the boy. Mother Danielle decided to go see what the fuss was and also had her son’s sugar level checked. To her amazement his sugar levels were dangerously low and it would have been only a matter of minutes before Alex would have started to have a seizure.
Of course the picture of the five-metre-high 13-metre-wide toque is quilted in one of the blocks. One hundred and thirty-six volunteers got into a big knit for six weeks to make the toque. The volunteers were from Morinville, Bon Accord and Legal and ranged in age from 8 to 93. They had a photo taken of Yvonne Pelletier’s class from Vanier School posing under the toque. In one photo they had 106 children pose under the toque. The finished version of the toque made its first appearance during the Town of Morinville’s second annual Christmas parade held Dec. 1, 1990 and also displayed on Main Street. The toque had been featured in several radio shows, television productions and numerous newspapers throughout Canada.
The quilted blocks reveals much of Morinville’s history and the Centennial Quilt members are also working on sewing a few blocks with the names of the volunteers and the work they did on the quilt.