A weekend in Fort Smith, Northwest Territories

Good afternoon from Calgary. I have to tell you that I spent a lovely weekend in Fort Smith, teaching a couple of workshops and doing a trunk show.

I started early on Friday morning with a short fly to Edmonton. I had two suitcases that were packed with quilts, materials for the classes and of course my personal belonging. With me, I took a large hand-bag to fit my iPad, phone, gloves, etc., plus a back pack to carry the rest of the winter stuff: extra pair of globes, hat, warmer scarf, a snack or two and more importantly, the 11 jars of paint for the painting workshop, neatly packed in three Ziploc bags.

Sabrina and Ariane dropped me off at the airport around 9:00 a.m. and by 9:15 I was already standing in line at the security gate. Placed my backpack on a tray (took the paints out of the backpack and placed them in plain sight), and placed my handbag, my jacket, my scarf … on another tray and went through the scanner without making it beep!. I am standing on the other side of the scanning machine waiting for my things, and I see the operator signal one of the security personnel to come closer. By then, a line of people were standing beside me waiting for their belongings. I had my handbag, but not my backpack. The operator signaled to me and asked what the jars were, and I told them they were fabric paints, acrylic paints. The security guard comes and tells me that I can’t take them with me on the plane because I have three bags. I said “no worries, I’ll fit them all in one of the bags, and that should be fine.” Without smiling, he hands me a smallish plastic bag, and tells me that I can take whatever I can fit into that smallish bag (a 1 litre bag). I looked at the guard in dismay and blurted “You are kidding, right?”. Well, as a matter of fact, he was not. He told me I could take whatever I could fit in the bag … by then, I could feel my heart pounding. I told him that I was on my way to the Northwest Territories to teach a workshop and that I needed the paints … it didn’t matter, no change in expression. He just stood there and held out the bag. The gentleman who was standing beside me offered to bring through the other half of the paints, so we were both taken out of line, through the line that had formed, out the door, to start the process again. Good thing that he told the guard on duty at the front of the line to let us cut in when we were done.

So that’s what we did. He took about 5 paints, I fit 6 in my little bag and through we went. My savior was a Scottish gentleman who never mentioned his name or where he was going, but I will be forever grateful to him.


The flight proceeded without issues in a small plane. I picked up my luggage at the Edmonton terminal, exited the secure area and found the Northwestern Air desk to check my luggage again and get my boarding pass. Before I did that, I took out all the paints, re-positioned them in the bags so I would have at least one of each color needed and placed the rest in a double bag between my clothes to try to minimize the possibility that they would freeze.

The Northwestern Air flight was fun. Everybody seemed to know everyone on the plane. I was the only “strange” face among the 8 passengers. Very small plane, about 18 people, no bathroom. The copilot is the flight attendant, security advisor, etc. The sun was shining and the sky was a deep blue.


I slept for a bit and then woke up when the copilot mentioned that we were preparing to land in Fort Smith. I was looking out the small window and saw a white expanse of flat land and in the middle of it a grey strip … that is where we landed. I loved the entire experience of it.


We landed and walked to the building. The sun was shining brightly and the air was cold. I think it was something like -35C with the windchill. Christine was waiting for me and discovered that we had met quite a few times in Canmore, at Quilt Art Rockies. We took workshops together with Hollis Chatelain and Laura Cater Woods and saw each other for a few years. The last time we saw each other was in 2009. It was as if no time had gone by at all!

She took me for a short tour of the town. There are 2500 people living in Fort Smith. Everything was covered in a thick blanket of snow. Absolutely breakthtaking views! We went to the Rusty Raven for a cup of tea and I managed to purchase a beautiful mug by Astrid, a potter in Yellowknife.



That night, at the college, we had the trunk show. There were about a dozen people (it was very cold) and it went very well. Everybody was very enthusiastic, and I met some of the ladies that were going to take the workshops.

More on that on a later blog. This is it for this edition. Thanks for reading. And keep quilting.



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