‘I love how it brings people together’: Unique barn quilt trail showcases North Okanagan-Shuswap area
It’s an idea that started in Ohio about two decades ago and was brought to the Okanagan in 2016: visiting area buildings with beautiful patterns on them.
The patterns are called barn quilts and come in a variety of designs and colours.
“A lot of people think it’s a quilt on a barn, but it’s not,” said Susan Wilson, a volunteer co-ordinator with the North Okanagan-Shuswap Barn Quilt Trail.
“It is one block usually that is a quilt block pattern painted on plywood and then installed on the barn or the building.”
The North Okanagan-Shuswap Barn Quilt Trail is celebrating three years of promoting local cultural pride with more than two dozen barn quilt locations spread across the region.
“It’s an initiative to get people to come to Armstrong or the valley and spend more time here so we’ve installed about 30 quilts, and you go on a tour to see them,” said Wilson.
“As far as we know, it’s the first and only one in British Columbia.”
From a poppy wreath quilt mounted on the Royal Canadian Legion Branch building to an apple motif at Davison Orchards, each quilt is unique and custom-made specifically for the location.
As owner of DIY Chix in Armstrong, Cheryl Hood is no stranger to building and renovations, which is why she was approached by Wilson to construct the quilts.
“They’re really simple,” Hood said. “It’s basically two-by-fours and (a) half-inch or 3/8 plywood. It’s cut up and then it’s glued and nailed or screwed onto the frame.”
Wilson has been targeting historical buildings or barns in the community, adding that they need to be visible from the public roadway.
“There’s no cost to you,” Wilson said. “Everything is covered, as far as the block itself, construction-wise and paint.”
The only responsibility the building or barn owners have is mounting the quilt.
Judy Glaicar is a local farmer who agreed to have a quilt installed on her barn.
“We moved here 50 years ago in August and decided that we were going to farm,” Glaicar said. “When we first started farming, it was asparagus. Disease came and took it so we diversified and started the pumpkin patch, which was 27 years ago.”
Glaicar says she sees people driving by regularly, looking at the quilt on her barn.
“We have a barn quilt that was put up last October. I love it because it has my favourite flowers on it,” Glaicar said. “They’re sunflowers and the pumpkin. I think it’s a wonderful way to represent our community.”
The team is looking to expand the trail by adding more locations, especially around the Shuswap, as there is only one stop so far in the area.
“It gets people off of the track and onto roads less travelled,” Wilson said. “We are farm country and to have people come out to see where their food comes from and how things look in the country is part of the reason.
“Because I’m a quilter and love quilts, it’s also a way to beautify the country,” she added.
Those looking to experience the North Okanagan-Shuswap Barn Quilt Trail can pick up a free map at the Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Centre.
“I love the colour. I love how it brings people together,” Hood said. “People get so excited. Friends have seen it that have come in from out of town, and they just love going on the barn quilt tour.”
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