Building Bridges Not Borders: The 25th Annual Roxham Wool Gathering! / Le 25e Roxham Wool Gathering!

Every September, Mountain Lake PBS supporter Susan Heller hosts an absolutely amazing event called the Roxham Wool Gathering in Hemmingford, Quebec.

Chaque septembre, Susan Heller, une donatrice pour Mountain Lake PBS hôte un incroyable évènement nommé Roxham Wool Gathering à Hemmingford au Québec.

A wool gathering goes back to England where farmers used to gather the wool left behind by sheep on fences, trees etc. In fact, in the 1600s, English farmers were buried with a tuft of wool on their chests so God would understand why they were never in church on Sunday!

The Roxham Wool Gathering hosts over 40 local artisans who showcase their paintings, hats, scarves, clothing, wood carvings, wool (alpaca and llama), pottery, cards, jewelry, jams and marmalades, stuffed toys, honey and more.  There are 3 or 4 cooks on hand serving their homemade food, as well as Petche’s Apple juice, coffee and cakes!

Now in its 25th year, the Roxham Wool Gathering has something for everyone, including animals, a magnificent tree-house, and friendly smiles for everyone.  Susan dashes about trying to be everywhere at once, including demonstrating how she cards wool and then spins it into yarn on her Icelandic spinning wheel.  She hand-dyes her beautiful wool with natural products, such as onion peels and turmeric, into the most spectacular colours.  If you have never knit before, you will certainly want to after seeing her beautiful yarn.

Roxham Road has been in the news a lot this year as it is the location of a former official point of entry into Canada.  Thousands of people have entered Canada via Roxham Road, hoping to make a new life here.  Sue’s farm is only a few hundred feet from the border.  Last year she would often see people walking up the road. “They would ask: ‘Am I in Canada?’  What could you do for them, but offer them some shade and some water, until the police came.”  This summer so many refugee-claimants were crossing that the RCMP set up a mini-tent city.  The flow has now slowed, but now all those who arrived are here with winter looming.

An immigrant to this country herself (she came to Canada from England over 50 years ago), the many faces, stories and wildly different circumstances of migration are not lost on Sue. “So many thousands of people have made a decision to leave all they have known to cross a stony ditch… to what?”

Bearing witness to this human tidal wave has made Sue even more aware of how lucky she is.  Working with friends from the community, and under the banner of “Bridges Not Borders”, she will be setting up a table at the Wool Gathering where visitors can drop off winter clothes and donations to support the many new arrivals.  “We all have a winter coat or sweater or pair of boots we don’t wear anymore.   This is an opportunity to put those items to very good use.”

Save the date everyone – the 2017 Roxham Wool Gathering is this Saturday and Sunday, September 16 and 17, from 10:00 – 4:00.  332 Roxham Road, St Bernard de Lacolle, Quebec. 450-247-2174 or  Lots of free parking.






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