Revitalising the Cochrane Tapestry

by Lorain Lounsberry, Senior Curator, Cultural History


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Woven in the workshop of Judocus de Vos about 1710 after designs by Teniers the Younger, this wool and silk tapestry was probably made for the upper class market in Europe and Britain.

Woven in the workshop of Judocus de Vos about 1710 after designs by Teniers the Younger, this wool and silk tapestry was probably made for the upper class market in Europe and Britain.

For the first time in Alberta, and with financial support from Museums Alberta, museum staff and volunteers conserved a fine Brussels tapestry, stabilizing broken threads, removing old repairs, and providing a sturdy support so the piece could be exhibited. Under the guidance of Glenbow's textile conservator, Gail Niinimaa, approximately 20 skilled volunteer needlewomen spent several thousand hours to repair and stabilize this wool and silk Brussells tapestry for future exhibition.

Why did Glenbow conserve this large (6'5" x 11'2") tapestry? Because for years it graced the walls of the Little Bow Cattle Company (the "CC") ranch house near Cayley, Alberta. W.E. "Billy" Cochrane was co-owner and manager of the new ranch in 1885, and a member of the English upper class. In 1887, Billy returned to England to marry Evelyn Lamb - the Brussels tapestry was a wedding present. The newlyweds brought the large tapestry to Alberta to decorate their new ranch house, and to remind them of their English homeland. Today, this Brussels tapestry is a reminder of one of the many English gentry who played an important role in Alberta's early ranching history.

Textile conservator Gail Niinimaa (right) guided the work of skilled volunteer needleworkers, including Janet Larson (left). The work was painstaking, but the needleworkers were thrilled to have the chance to see and handle a rare Brussells tapestry.

Textile conservator Gail Niinimaa (right) guided the work of skilled volunteer needleworkers, including Janet Larson (left). The work was painstaking, but the needleworkers were thrilled to have the chance to see and handle a rare Brussells tapestry.

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