For more than sixty years, Eveline MacLeod’s life has been inextricably woven into the art and the craft of weaving in Cape Breton.
Now, Ms. MacLeod has published her long-awaited book chronicling that research, Celtic Threads: A Journey in Cape Breton Craft (CBU Press), co-authored with Professor Daniel MacInnes, of St. Francis Xavier University. The book will be officially launched this week at Colaisde na Gàidhlig / The Gaelic College, as part of KitchenFest!
Eveline MacLeod is a retired school teacher and respected member of the Cape Breton Gaelic and Scottish communities. She founded the first Junior Girls Pipe Band in North America under the direction of Pipe Major Fraser Holmes (the Band is still in existence). She was involved with Girl Guides, taught Highland Dancing, sewing and weaving, in addition to instructing at the Gaelic College and Cape Breton School of Crafts. MacLeod has also been involved with the Ephraim Scott Presbyterian Church, Centre Bras d’Or for the Performing Arts, was a member of the Alexander Graham Bell Ladies Club, and sits on the Board of Directors of the Gaelic College. She founded the South Haven Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, instituted the Baddeck Handcraft Festival, and wrote three weaving instruction books. MacLeod received an honorary doctorate from Cape Breton University in 2012.
An avid weaver herself, MacLeod became an ardent student of the art and a teacher of the craft, tracing its roots from the glens of Cape Breton to the Highlands of Scotland and beyond. She has been a focal point in her community for decades and has made a significant impact on Cape Breton culture. [READ AN INTERVIEW WITH EVELINE MACLEOD]
In Celtic Threads, MacLeod shares her lifetime of research and collecting the history, methods, patterns and people of Cape Breton’s considerable tapestry of practical and ornamental weaving and other fibre art and crafts. Before it was a book though, MacLeod’s research looked more like a collection of papers and photographs. A friend of MacLeod’s daughter, Professor MacInnes was able to help with the process of turning this research into a book.
MacInnes taught sociology at St. Mary’s University for ten years and at St. Francis Xavier University for thirty-four years. His research over much of this time was fixed on rural life and his papers explored the end of the subsistence economy, emigration for work, the plight of the inshore fishery, the loss of Gaelic and resilience in the face of adversity.
Dr. MacInnes is equally familiar with the areas of Mabou, Inverness County in Cape Breton and vacated clachan in Glen Roy, Scotland where Mabou people like the Rankins, Beatons, MacDonalds and MacEachens lived at the end of the 18th century. These interests led him to first encourage, and later assist MacLeod with the development, preparation and editing of her research for this book.
The official launch will take place on July 3, 2-4 pm, at MacKenzie Hall, Colaisde na Gàidhlig / The Gaelic College in St. Ann’s, following a panel discussion on weaving. This is a free public event, part of KitchenFest! a new Cape Breton Island-wide music festival is making its debut this summer.
Everyone is welcome.