In The Beginning

Nov / 21 15

In The Beginning

In Category : 40th Archives

An Anniversary feature from the Archives

Way back in 1974, Sheila Cooper Trepanier, the Guild’s first president, put an ad in “The Courier” (a Gloucester local paper) seeking out residents interested in “Arts and Crafts”. As a result of this, a small enthusiastic group met above the Blair Road fire station to discus formation of an arts and crafts guild. They decided to limit membership to 200 and concentrate mainly on workshops. These were then held at Gloucester High School, with single evening workshops in nail art, pressed flower art, and applehead doll making for 75 cents, and four week sessions in batik, macramé and pottery for $10. Apparently these were very successful; there were no school board classes at that time!

The first guild market was scheduled for spring, and held May 31, 1975, at the Earl Armstrong Arena. A divisive debate ensued – some wanted jurying and only high quality work admitted, and others just wanted to foster a general interest in crafts. The latter won out! Booth fees were $5.00 and an entry fee of 25 cents was charged. Anyone with sales over $50.00 was to make a donation to the Guild library, and sales were brisk! Rosemary Swan took part in this market with her porcelain stoneware, which was very popular at the time. She tells the story of her husband seeing her empty table at the time and rushing home to retrieve dishes from their own cupboards. She was flabbergasted, and he was disappointed when told that she could never sell pots that were used! There were 105 members that year, only 7 of which were men, and four of those 7 were painters (artists).

The first Christmas Market was held on November 22, 1975 at Colonel By High School. Admission was 25 cents and over 3000 people attended. There were 65 booths at a fee of $5.00 each, exhibiting crafts such as batik, bargello, macramé, horseshoe nail jewellery, barn board paintings, rock sculpture, wooden toys, and welding. An organist and a guitar player provided entertainment, and decorations included Christmas trees draped in bows, and popcorn garlands made by junior members. There was a gift wrapping table. Apparently 20,000 bilingual flyers were distributed. Unfortunately there is no record of how much money was taken in. Comments for improving future markets included “wear a name tag, have a light to show off your crafts, have a Christmas tablecloth, and display more inexpensive items for children to buy as gifts”. We’ve come a long way!

Next installment – so many classes and search for a permanent home!

OAG-Portfolio Barbara Nolen