News Release

REF NO.: 99

SUBJECT: Exhibit on Grenfell clothing exchange to cross province

DATE: June 14, 2017

To mark the 125th anniversary of Sir Wilfred Grenfell’s arrival in Newfoundland, Memorial University is sponsoring a rare bilingual public exhibition examining a unique system of clothing exchange Grenfell initiated in Northern Newfoundland and coastal Labrador.

Tangled Threads/Fils entremêlés will travel across the province during the summer and fall of 2017 to local community museums and Memorial University libraries in Corner Brook and St. John’s. The exhibit will recount stories and showcase historical documents and photographs to show how clothing connected people over vast distances and also divided them from one another.

Sir Wilfred Grenfell’s clothing exchange distributed new and second-hand clothing donated from across Canada, the United States, Great Britain and Ireland in exchange for goods and services between the 1880s-1920s.


Exhibition locations and dates:

  • Grenfell Historic Properties, St. Anthony, July 2-30
  • Nurse Myra Bennett House, Daniel’s Harbour, Aug. 2-15
  • French Shore Interpretation Centre, Conche, Aug.16-30
  • Ferriss Hodgett Library, Memorial University, Grenfell Campus, Corner Brook, Sept.2-30
  • Queen Elizabeth II Library, Memorial University, St. John’s, Oct. 2-31


“Clothing is how we are first identified by people; it’s how our identity comes out,” said Emma Lang, co-organizer and Folklore PhD candidate. “And depending on the clothing we have access to, that says a great deal about our class position, the work we do, about what we value and about, the environment we live in.”

Tangled Threads/Fils entremêlés is notable for the collaboration with community museums, which often are overlooked by tourists and locals alike due to a lack of new exhibits. Each museum will receive a ready-to-go exhibit including display panels, posters, a how-to kit, and an interactive clothesline for display photos.

“We wanted to make it as simple as possible for each museum. They can put it up easily, and then take it down and send on to the next stop,” said Dr. Katherine Side, associate professor, Department of Gender Studies, who often researches using historical photographs.

Dr. Side and Ms. Lange hope the exhibit can travel to other spaces next summer, including Battle Harbour in Labrador. They also intend to attract French-speaking tourists due to the bilingual aspect of the exhibit.

Tangled Threads/Fils entremêlés also has a strong social media component on Facebook and Instagram, generating content about the exhibit and encouraging users to explain how their clothing identifies them and what their reasons are for taking pictures. Social media feeds are also showcasing some of the more than 8,800 photographs from the International Grenfell Collection.

Follow Tangled Threads/Fils entremêlés on Facebook (www.facebook.com/TangledThreadsExhibition/and on Instagram (www.instagram.com/TangledThreadsExhibition/).

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