I have met a master of Quebec’s artistic folklore. She is Yvette Michelin, a maker of intricate, finger-woven sashes created in French Canada in the 18th century.
If you are in Quebec when she’s making a public appearance, go. You’ll learn how a simple sash has centuries of tradition and how the old way of making them is not practiced by very many people today.
If you can find one of her creations to buy, be prepared to pay upwards of $1,000. That sounds like a lot, but not if you’ve met the artist and learn how much time and skill are required for each sash.
Bonhomme Carnaval, the festival’s seven-foot-tall snowman ambassador, sports such a sash. Its array of red, green, blue, white and gold yarn is highly visible against his massive white body.
In long-ago fur trading times, the native Amerindians were very fond of the French Canadian sashes that the newcomers used as belts to tie winter coats shut at the waist. They doubled as a weightlifter’s belt, too, back when people actually lifted heavy objects and became part of the region’s combined culture.
Today, you’ll see sashes worn purely for decoration around the waist, used for their original purpose with some outerwear, adapted into scarves and sometimes wrapped around a festival-goer’s face for protection from the cold
Your sash will be a souvenir that last far longer than a bottle of maple syrup from the airport gift shop.
(Quebec City visitor information is right here.)