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History of the Guild

We were established in 1939 as the Spinners and Weavers Of Ontario by a group of women that met each other at the Guild of All Arts. They each had established weaving business of some kind selling equipment, giving lessons and producing handwoven goods for sale. It was conceived as a way of networking with the Department of Agriculture who organized teachers for rural women as a way of generating a secondary income, the Canadian Handicraft Guild and its annual exhibitions and weavers across the province. The Canadian Handicraft Guild had stopped trying to keep weavers organized in 1936, at which point local guilds started to form across the country.

In the subsequent 85 years they have been part of Toronto’s cultural life with exhibitions at the ROM, The Art Gallery of Ontario and were the main event at Gibson House for the first 10 years of its opening to the public.

It had a few name changes until the provincial guild began in 1958 and has been the Toronto Guild of Spinners and Weavers since then. The physical archive that has been consolidated into 8 file boxes. We would like to have it housed by the municipality of Toronto’s archive. It was presented and refused by the city 20 years ago. When I brought the material to my apartment from various basements around the city, I began to scan it and research our history, finding material housed in the Rosa Clark Archive held in special collections at the University of Waterloo among other places like the Toronto Board of Education Archive and the Harbourfront Centre Archive. With more material coming from the families after their mother’s and or Grand mothers passing. By the mid 1990s, our paperwork became digital.

Thank you to Joe Lewis for organizing our archives and coordinating with the City of Toronto to have our archives accepted into the City Archives!