Scrapbooks: Leafing Through Time

When Grandma Westwood was preparing to leave her home and move into Lilac Lodge she gave me her scrapbooks, each one with its beginnings at Westwood Cottage.  What an incredible gift.  

The First One

The outside is a carefully cut piece of corrugated cardboard with a calendar picture of pine trees and mountains so different from our prairie home glued to the front cover.  A piece of bias tape is stapled to it to create a tie.  Inside, you will find an old Massey-Harris parts catalogue and on each page are newspaper clippings, each one carefully glued in place. This marvelous book is a joyous romp through a snapshot in time. You will find poetry, stories, cartoons, interesting colour pictures from magazines, an oak leaf, a listing of WWII service men and women from Wheatland and Rivers listing eleven family members (who all thankfully came home after the war), King George VI and Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Canada and a photo of the Dionne Quintuplets sitting proudly in their highchairs.  This scrapbook was about stories, ideas, interests, events, things important to my Grandmother, things that gave her joy in the middle of a busy farm wife’s life.

The Second One

The second scrapbook is about creation, making something new. Beneath its Mac Tac cover the clippings were glued to the pages of an April 1942 Esquire Magazine.  This book is awe inspiring! It is full of patterns and ideas for crafts, quilts, repurposing furniture, and home décor ideas to upgrade your farmhouse. The most thrilling being the newspaper clippings of quilt patterns.  Each week the paper would print the pattern for one block until the quilt was finished.  There are clippings for two quilts, the Rhyme Land quilt and a Fruit Basket quilt.  Grandma meticulously traced the fruit basket patterns from the a 1933 Winnipeg Free Press Prairie Farmer newspaper, made templates and then hand appliqued each block to make a beautiful quilt that now lives in my home.  I can’t begin to express how joyful this scrapbook makes me feel, and how much I miss this amazing woman.

The Third One

You can’t be a farm wife your whole life without having a collection of tried and true recipes.  This third scrapbook is full of delicious recipes clipped from newspapers and handwritten cards from neighbours and friends. I make many of these recipes today!

My Scrapbooks

My first scrapbook had its roots at Westwood Cottage. I’m sure it began as a way to keep an inquiring 10 year old granddaughter busy.  I was given my very own old catalogue, a pair of scissors, glue and a stack of Brandon Sun Newspapers.  I carefully cut out all of the comic strips from the papers, organized them into types of comics and glued them into my very own book. It is so much fun to look at the old comic strips; Andy Capp, Archie, Blondie, Little Woman, Peanuts, Trudy, Hagar the Horrible, Hi and Lois, BC and Wizard of ID. When I went to university, each letter from Grandma included a little cartoon clipped from a newspaper.   I’ll be passing this little scrapbook treasure on to my son, the cartoonist!

My next scrapbooks are a snapshot of my childhood with newspaper clippings including: interesting pictures, poetry, the death of Elvis, John Lennon and Terry Fox, an unprecedented murder in our small community, the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana and the momentous occasion of receiving my driver’s license. I took my driver’s test during harvest in a long box super cab pickup truck with a gas tank in the back and parallel parked using the mirrors. The instructor told me to get a longer leg or to drive my mother’s T-bird, but he passed me anyway!


Today’s version of scrapbooking for me is made up of adventures. Mementos from events, projects and travels. The pages are busy and a bit crazy, but I love them. They are very visual with journal notes and each page tells a story. I hope they will be interesting reading for my grandchildren some day!

Currently, I am in a renewal phase. The phoenix getting ready to burst forth from the ashes. I’m working on what is next and who I am going to be while I do it. My current scrapbook is exploring this and uses clippings from old magazines. It is more like creating vision pages.  This scrapbook is personal, therapeutic, inspirational, colourful and creative.  It is taking me on a journey.


On the surface, these books of scraps of paper don’t look exceptional -bits and pieces clipped from newspapers and magazines over a period of time. Some are yellowed, dog eared, torn, spilled on, hard to read and some are shiny and new. But each one is unique and interesting and has something to share and contribute – just like people. They can teach you history, family roots, new ways of doing things and feed you very well. This leafing through time can make you laugh and it can make you cry. These scrapbooks have shown me not just the Grandmother I knew but the woman she was. My version of scrapbooking is doing that for me too. It has given me an insight into who I was in the past and is helping me to figure out what I am going to do next and who I will be while I’m doing it.  Grandma would be saving me snippets of words and pictures and cartoons to help me out. Making a personal scrapbook can do this for you too. There are no right or wrong ways to do it. The learning, the inspiration is in the creating. Why not give it a try?

About westwoodcottage

Growing up I spent a lot of time at my grandparent’s farm, Westwood Cottage. It was a magical place. My sister and I always returned home having made something; cookies, a craft, gathering wild flowers and making a bouquet. And I have continued the tradition. I'm a Home Economist with an interest in living a creative life. I sew, bake, write, and have tried most crafts at least once. Adding to one of my many interesting vintage collections is great fun. My husband is a brilliant painter as you will soon see and he is an amateur actor and playwright. We have one son who is a cartoonist animator and another son who is fast becoming a computer wiz. Living in a prairie town in a 126 year old home gives us a lot of inspiration to explore our passions. Won’t you come join us on the journey?
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