Material Memories

By Marius Kwint; Christopher Breward et al. | Go to book overview

seven
Embroidering the
Ties of Empire: The Lord Grey Banners
Jennifer E. Salahub

[I write of] a little scheme, also of a picturesque character, but one which I hope will be of more use in making an impression upon the mind of the rising generation. [I have written] … some lady friends of mine to ask them to send me a banner of St. George which I can present to the principal Training Schools and Institutes.

13 March 1906

The beginning of the twentieth century saw embroidery used to proselytize the spirit of Empire and to strengthen the ties between Britain and Canada. This ‘little scheme’ took the form of a series of embroidered banners – literally material memories – commissioned by Albert Henry George, 4th Earl Grey (1851–1917) the Governor-General of Canada from 1904 to 1911. Contemporary Canadian photographs and Grey's correspondence suggest that no less than ten banners were designed and embroidered in England and shipped to Canada. Of these, eight represented Saint George, patron saint of England, ‘Englishness’ and empire, one the Black Prince, and one the personification of Canada as ‘Our Lady of the Snows’.1 Grey's choice of medium – needlework –

____________________
1
Copies of Lord Grey's Canadian correspondence and contemporary photographs of the banners are in the Public Archives of Canada, Ottawa. The creation, distribution and attribution of the banners is discussed in Jennifer E. Salahub, Dutiful Daughter: Fashionable Domestic Embroidery in Canada and the British Model, 1764–1911 (V&A/RCA History of Design Ph.D. thesis, 1998).

-143-

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