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Grenfell clothing exchange exhibit to tour Newfoundland and Labrador

A statue of Sir Wilfred Grenfell stands outside the Grenfell Interpretation Centre in St. Anthony.
A statue of Sir Wilfred Grenfell stands outside the Grenfell Interpretation Centre in St. Anthony.

The 125th anniversary of Sir Wilfred Grenfell’s arrival in Newfoundland is being marked this summer and fall with a touring exhibition on his unique clothing exchange system.

Memorial University is sponsoring a public exhibition, which will looks at the system Grenfell started in northern Newfoundland and coastal Labrador.

“Tangled Threads/Fils entremêlés” will travel to local community museums and Memorial University libraries in Corner Brook and St. John’s.

Grenfell’s clothing exchange distributed new and second-hand clothing donated from across Canada, the United States, Great Britain and Ireland in exchange for goods and services between the 1880s-1920s.

 “Clothing is how we are first identified by people; it’s how our identity comes out,” said Emma Lang, exhibit co-organizer and a folklore PhD candidate at Memorial. “And depending on the clothing we have access to, that says a great deal about our class position, the work we do, about what we value and about the environment we live in.”

Each of the museums taking part will receive a ready-to-go exhibit, including display panels, posters, a how-to kit, and an interactive clothesline for display photos.

“We wanted to make it as simple as possible for each museum," said Katherine Side, associate professor with Memorial’s Department of Gender Studies.

"They can put it up easily, and then take it down and send on to the next stop.”

Side and Lange hope the exhibit can travel to other spaces next summer, including Battle Harbour in Labrador.

They also intend to attract French-speaking tourists thanks to the bilingual aspect of the exhibit.

Exhibition locations and dates are as follows:

• Grenfell Historic Properties, St. Anthony, July 2-30

• Nurse Myra Bennett House, Daniel’s Harbour, Aug. 2-15

• French Shore Interpretation Centre, Conche, Aug.16-30

• Ferriss Hodgett Library, Grenfell Campus, Memorial University, Corner Brook, Sept. 2-30

• Queen Elizabeth II Library, Memorial University, St. John’s, Oct. 2-31

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