Catalonia: a heritage treasure | The print


(Clermont) It is older than New France. The catalogone, this blanket made of strips, has adorned beds or served as rugs from generation to generation. One of the few craftswomen who still carry on this tradition has recently woven her last large catalog. The print meet her.

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Gabriele Beland

Gabriele Beland
The print

Anne-Marie Hamel does not hide her sadness. She is about to live a little mourning. Having produced a hundred large catalogs for decades, she is now weaving the latest.

“Catalonia is full of threads, dust and it gets into my lungs. I have been suffering from asthma for three years. They are in the process of eliminating the risk factors, ”said the 67-year-old woman met at her home in Clermont, Charlevoix.

“I’ll be heartbroken, but it’s not good for my health. ”

The weaver will continue to weave. But it will no longer produce those great bed-covering catalogs that heritage aficionados crave.


“Catalonia is full of threads, dust and it gets into my lungs. For three years I suffer from asthma, “says Anne-Marie Hamel.

He will leave his big loom to a younger man. He hopes he will continue this ancestral technique which, without getting lost, is not as popular as before.

“If you go to Estrie, it’s more the English influence, it’s more quilt. But in the eastern regions it still intertwines, “says Anne-Marie Hamel.

In Catalonia it never stopped in Charlevoix, Bas-Saint-Laurent, Gaspésie, Saguenay …

Anne-Marie Hamel, weaver

The catalog is made up of intertwined strips. The technique was probably “imported by French mercenaries, who fought under the banner of the kings of Spain”, wrote the ethnologist Robert-Lionel Séguin in 1961, hence the name.

  • Catalonia designed by Anne-Marie Hamel


    Catalonia designed by Anne-Marie Hamel

  • Catalognes are made with strips most often cut from old reused fabrics.


    Catalognes are made with strips most often cut from old reused fabrics.

  • Mrs. Hamel found a man who wanted to undertake the great job necessary for the production of the great catalogs.


    M.myself Hamel found a man who wanted to undertake the great job necessary to make the great catalognes.

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Hence, the French colonists brought the technique here. The first mention of Catalonia dates back to 1634, in Relations with the Jesuits. At the time of her death in 1673, Montreal co-founder Jeanne Mance owned a “large white Couverte de Catalougne”.

“This is an artisanal production which, in the 1920s and 1930s, allowed farmers to survive,” said Michel Laurent, former fabric curator at the Musée de la civilization, in an interview. “With the development of tourist routes, there were kiosks on the sides of the roads and people were selling their products, including catalognes. ”

The catalog, made with strips of clippings, also allowed the reuse of old clothes. “Nothing was wasted. It was the maximum use of fibers, ”Laurent observes.


Despite changing fashions, Catalonia continues to hold a special place in the heart of Quebec.

“In half an hour he was gone”

Anne-Marie Hamel was not born into a rural family. She grew up in Montreal and then moved to Charlevoix in 1975, “in the hippie years”. “I joined a peasant women’s club and learned to weave,” she says.

She has since become one of Quebec’s premier weavers. Then he started making his great catalognes, those pieces that were traditionally used on beds.

On the day of our visit, she weaves the last one. On the large loom, given the size of the piece, she has to get help from her friend Huguette Dufour.

I find it enveloping, a catalog. Since I was born, I have seen catalognes on the beds. My mother did it. It is reassuring, a Catalonia.

Huguette Dufour

She is not the only one who thinks so. Despite changing fashions, Catalonia continues to hold a special place in the heart of Quebec. “When I arrived at the market with the catalognes, it was gone in half an hour”, says Mmyself Hamel, which divides its weekends between the Baie-Saint-Paul market and the La Malbaie market.

Sometimes customers touch and sigh. “Bring back memories to them. Some complaints. “I once saw a woman from Gaspésie who said to me: ‘I can’t find any more here.’ ”

For a single queen-size catalog, he estimates it took 20 hours to cut, then 6 hours to weave together. “A catalog, you can’t sell it for more than $ 350. It’s not expensive an hour,” she said.

“One day a woman came to the market and asked me the price. At the time I was selling them for $ 300. She gave Me $ 100 and said, “My husband is on his way, tell him it’s $ 200, okay?” “Says M.myself Hamel laughing.

A lost legacy

Anne-Marie Hamel is concerned about the future of weaving. She also practices buttoned Charlevoix, an endangered technique. She intends to continue for a long time. With the support of the Quebec government, she even began teaching courses to teach this technique.


Buttoned Charlevoix cushion. Anne-Marie Hamel in particular has woven 5,000 towels and one hundred pillows in Catalonia for the Le Germain Charlevoix hotel.

“It is a treasure of heritage that is disappearing,” notes Michel Laurent. M.myself Hamel is one of the last in the Charlevoix region to produce buttons for sale. ”

Man cares less about the future of good old Catalonia. You can still find them for resale, and several peasant women’s circles still produce them.

But some peasant women’s circles are closing down, complains Anne-Marie Hamel. “There aren’t many women who make catalognes anymore,” observes the weaver. There are not many young people who weave. ”


Anne-Marie Hamel very proud of her latest creation

His latest great catalog is full of colors. Anne-Marie Hamel is not going to market that one. She has reserved it preciously for her newborn granddaughter. Who knows if, when you grow up, the catalognes will still be woven in Quebec?


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