Re: using canvas type cloth fabric to cover wood floor
From the historian's perspective:
Canvas was traditionally applied to wood floors with small (#3 or 4) carpet tacks with the edges rolled under, then painted. To get it taut they wet the canvas first, and it tightened as it dried. Then it would be painted in decorative patterns with oil paint, and finally varnished. Typically a floorcloth would last from 1-10 years depending on the wear, before needing re-varnishing. They were popular in colonial times up until the advent of cheap machine-woven carpet in the 1850's, and sheet linoleum put them away completely.
The problem with cementing the canvas to each board is that when the wood shrinks in the winter, the stress on the fabric will be incredible at one narrow line, and something will need to give. Tacking at the edges lets the entire canvas breadth take the strain.
Remove not the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.