This apron, donated by Suzanne Montagne of Seattle, Washington, was worn by her grandmother, Blanche Beaulieu Viens. It may be that Blanche, Mrs. Albert Viens, made this apron from a flour sack, a common practice in the early 1900s. Notice that the bib section would be pinned to the wearer’s blouse. She eventually passed it on to her daughter, Simone Viens Montagne (Mrs. Joffre Montagne), and Suzanne adds that her mother did not allow her daughters to wear it!
The embroidered scene, Retour de la Messe de Minuit (Returning from Midnight Mass), makes this apron especially interesting at the Christmas season. It was the custom among French Canadians and Franco Americans to attend midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, then to return home to a feast called Réveillon. This repast would certainly include the tourtière (meat pie) and likely the bûche de Noël (Yule log cake). Young children, who did not attend Midnight Mass, would be awakened for the festivities.
Mr. & Mrs. Albert Viens lived at 319 Lake Street in St. Albans for many years. This family is included in the Museum’s French Heritage exhibit.
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(Author & Photography: Louise Haynes)