The Guild of Canadian Weavers (GCW) is active in promoting the art of handweaving in Canada and throughout the world.. I recently became a member and have learned some history about this very active guild. Thanks to Lynn Heglar, Margaret Hahn, Dita Runkle and Anne Thomas for information they have kindly provided. Also, thanks to the Winnipeg Real Estate News, and an article by Jo-Anne Tabachek, “Local Weaving” Aug. 29, 1997 from which some of this information is summarized.
The GCW was founded in 1947 by 3 experienced and dedicated weavers, Miss Mary E. Black, from Nova Scotia, Mrs. Ethel M. Henderson of Manitoba and Mrs. Mary Sandin of Alberta. The Guild met at the Manitoba Branch of the Canadian Handicrafts Guild. Weaving courses were taught, monthly meetings included a “show and tell” and collections of samples were developed. The Guild library was started in 1954, with the purchase of 2 books. This library has now grown to an extensive collection of books, videos, sample collections, and special studies that are loaned out to members. Prior to this, weaving wasn’t promoted in Manitoba’s early years, as textiles were mainly imported from Britain. Ventures such as commercial production of flax and hemp, a fulling and woolen mill were not successful. In order to raise the technical and artistic standards of hand weaving in Canada, the GCW developed a Master Weaver testing program. Through a series of levels of achievement, beginner, intermediate, senior and master weaver certificates could be attained.
Due to the vast geographic expanse of Canada, it was felt that this could be done by mail order. Each participant is able to work at his/her own pace on the required projects. Completed levels are submitted twice a year for marking. On the successful completion of a level, the next level can be continued on.
Anyone interested in handweaving is invited to join the Guild of Canadian Weavers. You don’t have to live in Canada to join. Members receive a New Members information package containing the Handbook, Test Requirements and a Library and Membership list. All members have access to the Guild library and receive a quarterly Newsletter filled with samples, projects and interesting articles.
If your guild would like to be included in this list of web sites, please let me know.
The GCW website has information on joining the Guild, member services and test requirements.
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