The Volunteer Committee has given over eighty years of service to Craft Ontario. Their support and contributions have had a profound impact on both the organization and individual craftspeople across the province.
The Volunteer Committee’s history goes back to the early 1930’s, when a dynamic group of men and women founded the Handicrafts Association of Canada. This group arranged to create an area dedicated to selling fine craft in Eaton’s flagship College Street Store, and helped craftspeople purchase raw materials in smaller quantities than were generally available through wholesalers. With this income, the Volunteer Committee purchased storefront space dedicated to Ontario craft. In the 1960s, this grew into a small gallery, offices and a store on Cumberland Street that became The Guild Shop, which is known today as the Craft Ontario Shop, located at 1106 Queen Street West.
The Volunteer Committee is the reason that the Craft Awards Program exists today, as they worked to create an annual program for professional craftspeople at a time when few such awards existed. The Volunteer Committee’s awards continue to support emerging, mid-career and established professionals, created with funds raised by organizing studio tours and social events. Overall, hundreds of craftspeople have benefitted from the Committee’s efforts over the years.
In the fall of 2016, the Craft Ontario Volunteer Committee wrapped up its operations as an official association, with a commitment to continue supporting the Awards Program until 2019. Many members of the Committee continue to volunteer in order to pursue a love of craft and support the community.
Craft Ontario is deeply grateful for the role that the Volunteer Committee has played in establishing the organization today.
The Craft Awards program is able to take place on an annual basis through the valued support of many generous donors and sponsors. Our thanks go to the following organizations, businesses and individuals: the Craft Ontario Volunteer Committee, The Pottery Supply House, Tuckers Pottery Supplies Ltd., FUSION: the Ontario Clay and Glass Association, Lacy West Supplies. Ltd., as well as members and friends of the Mather, Farndale, Copeland, Walker, Gregor, Yung, McPherson, Cochrane, and Diamond Butts families.
Images: Left: The Guild Shop on Bloor Street West run by the Canadian Handicrafts Guild. Right: The earliest version of The Guild Shop at Eaton's College Street - this display features weaving from the Women's Art Association.