Our History

This was written by MWFA member Jo-Anne Tabachek
in 1997.  It has not been updated since that time. 





The Guild of Canadian Weavers, Manitoba Branch was founded in 1947 by Ethel Henderson. The guild meets at 8:00 p.m. on the last Friday of each month from September to November and from January to May. Originally, the guild met at the Manitoba Branch of the Canadian Handicrafts Guild (later renamed as Crafts Guild of Manitoba), where weaving courses were taught. Later the group met in Ethel Henderson’s home. At that time the library was housed at the home of Mrs. Phyllis Boreham on Sunnyside Drive in St. James. Later, the guild began to meet in Young United Church in downtown Winnipeg where they were allowed to maintain a small library. In September 1978, meetings and the library moved to their present location – Lutheran Church of the Redeemer at the corner of Academy Road at Wellington Crescent.

The Manitoba guild began its library in 1954 with the purchase of two books. Books and magazines are in constant circulation and are an important part of belonging to the guild. Many books have been donated with the largest donations from Joyce Chown, Margaret Groff, Ethel Henderson, Margaret Lewis and Laura McHugh. Books were also contributed in memory of Sabine Delaney, an active member who drove in for meetings from Pinawa with Helen Olchowy every month and who died in 1992. In the February 1974 Guild of Canadian Weavers (GCW) Bulletin, there is a description of the 1973 guild project in which members wove white placemats to sell to friends and through the Crafts Guild of Manitoba shop. Proceeds were used to buy books and periodicals. Edward Tabachek built the guild’s oak bookcase in the 1980’s.

Guild meetings consist of a business meeting, followed by “show and tell” where members bring their latest weavings or something of interest to weavers. A programme follows on some weaving-related topic. Generally, guild members present the programme, often with 2 or more members collaborating on a given programme. On occasion there is a guest speaker. Once a year the guild meets at other locations such as a museum with a textile collection or a school with computer facilities. Videos and slides, collections of samples, fashion shows and yarn sales all contribute to a well-rounded year of programmes. Sometimes, study groups are formed for a special topic. The guild has written articles and woven samples for the national GCW Bulletins. These activities required the participation of many members and are described elsewhere in this booklet. The Annual Pot Luck dinner in June is well-attended.

Members can belong to either the local guild or to both the local and national guilds. Membership in the national guild has the added benefits of access to the national guild library, quarterly newsletters (the Bulletin), scholarships, and the ability to obtain certificates denoting a level of weaving skill and achievement. The national guild has about 500 members. A guild or individual may become a member of the national Guild of Canadian Weavers and last year’s membership list included at least 22 guilds.



Weaving and spinning were not promoted in Manitoba’s earliest years. Britain wanted to export textiles to Canada and thus had reason not to support this type of self-sufficiency. Several ventures in textile production in Manitoba in the 1800’s met with disaster – the Buffalo Wool Company, commercial production of flax and hemp, a fulling mill and later a woolen mill. Governor Simpson and Bishop Provencher, were interested in promoting self-sufficiency in textile production. They brought two female weavers to Manitoba in 1838 for three years to establish a school at the French mission in St. Boniface but the school was destroyed by fire a year later. By 1870, Manitoba had become a province and the railway had been completed through Manitoba. The railway brought increased availability of goods and competition resulting in a decreased need for and interest in handweaving. Decades later, the Roman Catholic Church, the Crafts Guild of Manitoba, the Searle Grain Company and the Guild of Canadian Weavers would all have significant roles in the history of weaving in Manitoba.

The Manitoba Chapter of the Handicrafts Guild was formed in 1928 and later renamed the Crafts Guild of Manitoba. In 1934, courses were extended to include weaving which became very popular. In the mid to late 1930’s, weaving was taught throughout Winnipeg, in private homes and the Guild shop in the Power Building. Kitty Churchill, Gladys Chown and Miss Hurt taught and/or demonstrated weaving in those early years. In 1951, the Crafts Guild moved to a permanent location on Kennedy Street and had sufficient room to house looms and hold classes. Over the years, countless classes and workshops were given both by local and international teachers. Weaving continued to be taught until 1997 when the Crafts Guild of Manitoba building was sold. Many looms were transferred to the University of Manitoba and will be used in the Faculty of Human Ecology’s Clothing and Textiles program. It is hoped that courses and workshops will continue to be given there through the efforts of members of the Crafts Guild of Manitoba and the Guild of Canadian Weavers, Manitoba Branch.

In Quebec, a revival in handweaving occurred in 1929 when the provincial government created a School of Handicrafts and its Department of Agriculture trained teachers to teach spinning, weaving and dyeing. That department held a competition for a new type of loom to replace looms that were so large they could only be used in barns or large sheds which were not heated in the winter. Nilus Leclerc won this competition for his 4-harness counterbalance loom which was demonstrated at the Quebec Exposition in 1926. Handweaving in Quebec was supported by Oscar Beriau, Quebec Minster for Agriculture, who wrote books on weaving, including Home Weaving in 1939, and who later assisted the Searle Grain Company in setting up the Searle Grain Home Weaving program.

The Manitoba branch of the Quebec-based la Socié té d’Enseignement Postscolaire du Manitoba (known in English as the Manitoba Association for Adult Education) was founded in 1934. In 1941, the Congregation of the Grey Nuns in Montreal sent sisters to found St. Joseph’s Institute and College in St. Boniface. They began to teach weaving and spinning and eventually had 37 floor looms and 6 spinning wheels. The first course was co-sponsored by the Manitoba government and la Socié té . The Manitoba Minister of Education was so impressed by the results of the first course that he offered a grant to la Socié té to extend instruction to rural Manitoba. Courses in rural communities began in the fall of 1941 and were taught on floor looms which were disassembled following each course, transported to the next location and reassembled. Some communities where weaving was taught include Haywood, La Broquerie, Notre Dame de Lourdes, Otterburn, St. Adolphe, Sainte-Anne de Chenes, Ste. Agathe, St. Claude, St. Jean Baptiste, Saint-Joseph, St. Malo, St. Pierre and Winnipeg (St. Joseph’s College, Holy Rosary School, Sacred Heart). During the summer, beginners and advanced courses were taught at St. Joseph’s College to school teachers, nuns in particular, who went on to teach others. Courses, given in French, were $10 plus materials for a 6 week course and were given until 1947/48.

The Searle Grain Company wanted to do something for farm women in western Canada because they had implemented other programs for farm men. Mr. Augustus Searle assigned Major Harry Strange to recommend an appropriate program. Through a lucky set of circumstances at a Canadian Seed Growers Association meeting in Ottawa, the Major saw a display of handwoven clothing and household articles which had been made by farm women in Quebec. Major Strange was so impressed by the weavings that he arranged to meet Oscar Beriau, Quebec Minister of Agriculture, who had supported the program. Arrangements were made for Mr. Beriau to come to Winnipeg to present the idea of the program to the Searle Grain Company. Thus, in 1941 the Searle Grain Home Weaving Program was started and fashioned after the program which had been so successful in Quebec. At that time, la Socié té had been teaching weaving in Winnipeg and rural communities for 6 months and the Crafts Guild of Manitoba was also teaching weaving. In order to keep the programs complementary rather than competitive, Searle Grain gave its weaving courses mainly in Alberta and Saskatchewan, with a few in Manitoba. Searle Grain paid for the instructor’s fee, equipment, rental and materials needed for demonstration of weaving techniques. Courses were free of charge but women who took them were expected to teach others at no charge and to establish Weaving Circles in their communities to provide advice, inspiration and companionship. Courses were 6 weeks long and given to two groups of 6 students simultaneously with one group taking instruction for 2-1/2 hours in the morning and the second group in the afternoon. Courses were given in towns where Searle Grain had an elevator and this provided staff to assist in the logistics. Oscar Beriau’s daughter, Renee, came to Winnipeg from Quebec in 1941 to assist the Searle Grain Company in establishing its Home Weaving Service. She trained four women who were fluent in English and one other language – Laura Muirhead, Carberry, SK (Swedish), Ann Yakimischak, Winnipeg, MB (Ukrainian and Russian), Germaine Chaput (French) and Helen Boiley (French), La Broquerie, MB. The first courses were taught by Laura and Ann in Saskatchewan in April 1942 and by Germaine and Helen in Alberta in May 1942. The instruction part of the Home Weaving Service ended abruptly in late 1944 when gas rationing, required to support the war effort, resulted in women being unable to get to class. By then, Searle Grain had given more than 62 classes to 794 women who had purchased 246 of the 45″ Leclerc looms.

Since Searle Grain’s headquarters were in Winnipeg in the Grain Exchange Building, the Searle Grain Home Weaving Service was established there. Dorothy Rankine, a former member of the Guild of Canadian Weavers, Manitoba Branch, operated the it on the third floor of the Grain Exchange in downtown Winnipeg from 1941 until 1964. The store became the first dealer for the Leclerc company; selling looms and related equipment. Since yarns were not readily accessible in Canada, the company imported linen from Ireland and Belgium, wool from England and Scotland and cottons from Egypt and the United States. Wanting to provide a service to women, supplies were sold at no profit. Dorothy acted as a consultant – providing advice to weavers on equipment and yarns. She published a monthly newsletter called Searle Suggestions, a one-page homey-style newsletter containing small samples of fabric woven by rural and city weavers and a brief report of the sample and weaver. The publication provided valuable information and inspiration to weavers at a time when there were few other available written resources. As weaving yarns became more accessible and as groups began to make group-purchases of yarns directly from yarn manufacturers, there was insufficient demand for the yarns for the service to be economically viable. Even though Searle Grain did not wish to make a profit on the supplies, they did have a lot of money tied up in inventory. In addition, Searle Grain began to streamline its operations as it approached a merger with Federal Grain in 1965. The Searle Grain Home Weaving Service closed its doors on October 31, 1964 ending a very important part of our weaving history in Manitoba.

Ethel Henderson of Winnipeg and Mary Sandin of Edmonton met in 1941 and both started to teach weaving for the University of Alberta’s Extension Department at the Banff School of Fine Arts in Banff, Alberta during the summer months. Together they published Loom Music, a monthly publication, from 1944 until 1964. When Mary Black, working in Halifax, read the publication, she contacted Ethel Henderson and Mary Sandin. The three of them founded the Guild of Canadian Weavers in 1947 with three founding guilds in Winnipeg, Edmonton and Halifax. Later Ethel Henderson moved to Edmonton where she initiated the publication of the national Guild of Canadian Weavers Bulletin in 1958 which is still published today quarterly.

Fifty years after its 1947 beginnings, the Guild of Canadian Weavers, Manitoba Branch has 32 members, from new weavers to those who have been weaving for 50 years. Monthly meetings are filled with wonderful programmes, excellent “show and tell” items, a well-used library and camaraderie. Weaving in Manitoba owes much to the organizations who have had important roles in our weaving history.


It is unfortunate our guild’s early records from 1947-77 have been lost or misplaced. Many of the guild’s early members were also members of the Weaving Group at the Crafts Guild of Manitoba. Names such as Gladys Chown, Kitty Churchill, Phyllis Cooper, Anne Dowton, Miss Hurt, Selina Lawrence, Jean Maher, Inga McGougan, Mrs. M.S. Osborne, Holly Rattray, Inga Roos, Mrs. C.M. Scott, Madame Talbot, Mrs. A. Wathne and Helen Watts appear in the Crafts Guild’s records and may have been members of our guild as well. Crafts Guild members such as Ethel Goodman, Margaret Goodwin, Margaret Lewis, Flora Marshall, Laura McHugh, Ruby Monds, Eleanor Melville, Ivy Murphy, Carol Rudd, Mrs. K.B. Weale and Jennie Webb were certainly members of our guild as well during the 1950’s.

Ethel Henderson

When Ethel Henderson lived in Winnipeg, she was one of the founders of the Guild of Canadian Weavers along with Mary Sandin of Edmonton and Mary Black of Nova Scotia in 1947. Ethel and Mary Sandin began to teach weaving at the Banff School of Fine Arts in 1942 and were later joined by Mary Black. Ethel taught there for 25 years. When Ethel moved to Edmonton, she initiated the publication of the national GCW Bulletin in 1958. She and Mary Sandin published Loom Music from 1944 to 1964. The publications ended due to Ethel’s poor health and her death in June 1966. In her memory, the Ethel Henderson Scholarship was established in 1967 and is still available today to members of the national Guild of Canadian Weavers.

Ethel Harrison

Ethel Harrison was President of the National GCW from 1962 to 1966 and is listed as a member of our guild until 1971 prior to her death in 1975. Ethel was a graduate of the University of Manitoba’s Department of Home Economics, Foods and Nutrition – the first of three generations of graduates from that department. She had 3 sons and 1 daughter, Merrill Malcolmson, who recalled that after her father retired, her parents borrowed the 100” loom from the Crafts Guild of Manitoba. This loom required two people to weave and her parents wove 6 coverlets – one for each grand-daughter. When Ethel and her husband traveled to the British Isles in 1963, she wrote about the weaving-related aspects of her travels in the GCW Bulletin (March 1964).

Dorothy Rankine

Many of Dorothy Rankine’s accomplishments are described in the History of Weaving in Manitoba in regards to operating the Searle Grain Home Weaving Centre in the Grain Exchange from 1944-1964 in addition to her monthly publication of Searle Suggestions. Apparently, the Leclerc Company named the Dorothy table loom after Dorothy Rankine.

Dorothy Rankine’s husband, Hugh was also a weaver and is best known as the designer of the Manitoba Tartan. The tartan became public in April 1958 and received Royal Assent on May 1, 1962. An article by Lillian Gibbons in the Winnipeg Tribune on April 18, 1958 stated that Dorothy was a member of the “Guild of Weavers” and that both Dorothy and Hugh were “ardent weavers”. The Manitoba tartan, woven by members of the Guild of Weavers, made its debut at an Arts Fair in April 1958 where it was displayed as a luncheon set, towels, kilt and a shirt. A Manitoba tartan scarf was also presented to Hon. J.L. Jobin, Minister of Trade and Industry, at the Fair.


Margaret Groff

Margaret Groff’s work at the Red Cross Arts and Craft Centre (later renamed Deer Lodge Centre) sparked her interest in learning to weave. Only 3 of the 13 looms at this facility for war veterans were in use and someone who knew how to weave was needed to assist more patients in using them. Margaret volunteered to learn to weave and enrolled in the 6 week course at the Banff School of Fine Arts in the summer of 1961. Margaret used her 3 weeks vacation and took another 3 weeks with no pay to attend. She was taught by Mary Sandin, Ethel Henderson and Mary Black, the three women who had founded the Guild of Canadian Weavers. Margaret had a wonderful 6 weeks at this intensive course and recently donated her sample book from this course to our library. The samples, woven in fine linen, are wonderful to see. Margaret taught all types of crafts including leather work and rug hooking in addition to weaving. She learned many crafts at the Crafts Guild of Manitoba and then used these skills to teach others. Margaret worked full-time at Deer Lodge Centre from 1961 until she retired in 1980. She has continued to do volunteer work there right up to 1997. Margaret joined the Guild of Canadian Weavers, Manitoba Branch in about 1961 and was Provincial Representative from 1972 to 1984. Margaret is well known as a great auctioneer, fund raiser and world traveler.

At 83, Margaret is the most senior participant in “Woven Together – Fibre & Clay” at the Manitoba Craft Council’s Exhibition Gallery from September 5 – October 4, 1997. She also has work on display at “In Celebration of Weaving” at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Human Ecology from June 30 to September 16, 1997.



Pot luck dinners are always a lot of fun and seem to be the opportunity for lots of funny times to remember (especially the ones at Anne Orlikow’s). Remember the Pot Luck dinner at Anne Orlikow’s when her neighbour fell off the roof of his house resulting in great commotion and a call for Anne to go to the rescue since she was a nurse.

– Remember the time when Patty Sauder was supposed to bring refreshments to the meeting but since she could not attend, she left the cake in a box outside another member’s door. Then it snowed …. There was no dessert for the meeting and Patty’s cake did not appear until spring.



Ruby Monds is a petite 91-year old who still weaves up a storm and brings more items to “show and tell” at the Guild of Canadian Weavers (GCW) meetings than many younger members. Born and raised in Winnipeg, Ruby learned to weave in Edmonton when her husband was transferred there in the late 1940’s. There wasn’t much to do in the winter so Ruby took a table loom course taught by Mary Sandin. After 10 or 12 lessons, Ruby was on her own and learned a lot from weaving books. Her first loom, a huge old 45” loom, which she bought for $25, was “built like a battleship” of 4” x 4” posts with an overhead beater, string heddles and a fly shuttle. She brought the loom back to Winnipeg with her but eventually sold it and replaced it for the loom she still uses – a 36” counterbalance Leclerc loom. While in Edmonton, Ruby learned that her teacher had co-founded the national GCW in 1947 along with Ethel Henderson in Winnipeg and Mary Black in Nova Scotia. Back in Winnipeg in the early 1950’s, Ruby joined the Crafts Guild of Manitoba where weaving was taught and the following year she joined the GCW.

Ruby met Laura McHugh, her “weaving buddy” at the Crafts Guild of Manitoba. To Ruby having a weaving buddy was very important, providing companionship, mutual support and someone who understood the weaving vocabulary which sounded rather foreign to others. They spurred each other on and did a lot of things together, especially after Laura moved closer to Ruby’s home. The Crafts Guild was the “teaching guild” and many courses and special workshops were held there. In the early 1960’s, Ruby began to teach at the Crafts Guild. By the 1970’s, classes became too large for one person, so again the buddies teamed up. Laura had been a school teacher, so she excelled at teaching the theory or “blackboard” part of the course while Ruby preferred the practical “hands-on” part of teaching. They taught Beginners and Intermediate Weaving through the 1960’s and into the 1970’s. In 1977, Anne Ayre, one of their students, joined them as a teacher. Ruby and Laura retired from teaching in 1980 but their strong friendship continued until Laura’s death in 1988.

The GCW has a weaving certificate programme but initially some members were rather intimidated at the thought of sending their weavings to be examined and graded. To overcome this fear, the Crafts Guild of Manitoba set up a jurying process so weavers could have their work critiqued. Ruby and Laura obtained perfect scores. Ruby went on to obtain her Basic Certificate in May 1958. She has kept many of the pieces submitted for this certificate and they are a treat to see – beautifully woven in fine yarns, and include a beautiful original overshot pattern and a piece with fascinating colourful overshot borders. Ruby became too busy teaching after that to obtain the other weaving certificates.

Some of Ruby’s largest weavings were woven on the 100” loom at the Crafts Guild of Manitoba – a loom so wide that it required two weavers to operate. Weavers would team up to weave and produce sufficient articles for each person who wanted one. Ruby tells of the many hours of weaving with close friends on this loom to produce bedspreads and tablecloths.

It was not until the 1970’s that Ruby discovered that she came from a background of weavers – her mother’s great-grandfather was a weaver in Paisley, England. Throughout Ruby’s apartment are signs that this is the home of a weaver – from the floor loom set up in the living room, where she is weaving canvas weave placemats which have always been in demand at the Crafts Guild of Manitoba shop, to cushions, a double-woven afghan and wall hangings. In the bathroom are fingertip towels with borders of tiny woven flowers and a carpet on the floor. Her bed sports a beautiful overshot bedspread woven on the 100” loom at the Crafts Guild of Manitoba. Throughout our visit, Ruby scurried away to bring out more beautiful articles including a large tablecloth she designed in M’s and O’s. Over the years, Ruby has won many awards for her weavings from those early days in 1961 and 1963 when she won awards in the Annual National Weaving Exhibitions in London, Ontario and Winnipeg, to more recent awards such as the Merit Award for her linen placemats and napkins at the 50th Anniversary of the Crafts Guild of Manitoba in 1979 and the Bulkley Valley Exhibition in British Columbia. A number of Ruby’s weavings are in the GCW’s 50th Anniversary exhibition, In Celebration of Weaving, at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Human Ecology, June 30 to September 12, 1997.

At 91, Ruby Monds and her weavings are an inspiration to us all. In the last few years she has woven Christmas placemats and many others for sale at the Crafts Guild of Manitoba, 95 mug mats to be given out at a conference and several scarves. And like any true weaver, Ruby is quick to tell you her plans for her next weaving project.



One of the main purposes of the Guild of Canadian Weavers is “To prepare and set examinations at designated periods for the benefit of those wishing to qualify for the four stages of regular membership in the Guild.” There are four levels of tests – Basic, Intermediate, Senior and Master Weaver. Applicants can submit samples and written work at two designated times each year. The following shows the members of the Guild of Canadian Weavers, Manitoba Branch who have successfully passed these tests.

Basic Intermediate Senior Master
Anne Ayre 1985 1985
Sabine Delaney 1985
Valerie DePorto 1988 1989 1990 1992
Ethel Goodman late 1950’s
Margaret Goodwin 1958
Margaret Lewis <1957 late 1950’s
Flora Marshall late 1950’s late 1950’s
Eleanor Melville >1959 1959
Ruby Monds 1958
Ivy Murphy late 1950’s
Carol Rudd >1959 <1961 <1961
Mrs. K.B. Weale <1957
TOTAL 12 6 2 1




– Remember the Pot Luck dinner at Anne Orlikow’s where we heard that the yarns from Ron Harris’ recently closed store were for sale. They were being housed at his home which he had rented out to two young men. A quick phone call later, we were loaded into vans and off to the sale. Remember the “buying frenzy” that resulted in the hallway of this home (which was about 30°C)? Remember Carol Nikols using her trusty flashlight (was she ever a Girl Guide?) to see the yarns in the dark hallway?

– Remember the Pot Luck dinner at Anne Orlikow’s when a casserole slipped while being removed from the oven. When the contents slid onto the floor, Anne and cohort used two spatulas to get the contents back into the dish and then off to the table they went with it. Only those present at the 50th Anniversary Pot Luck dinner know whose casserole it was and those members have all been sworn to secrecy.



Valerie De Porto, Manitoba’s only Guild of Canadian Weavers Master Weaver, has come a long way since she taught herself to weave on a rigid heddle loom in 1983. At the Crafts Guild of Manitoba, she completed a frame loom weaving course with June Cameron in 1983/84 and then advanced to a 4-shaft table loom and took Beginner and Intermediate Weaving with Anne Ayre. Later courses included Double Weave with Judith Rygiel, Linen Weaves and Finnweave with Christina Pokrupa, Twill Weaves and finally Complex Weaves with Madelyn van der Hoogt at The Weaver’s School in Missouri in 1991.

It was Anne Ayre who introduced Valerie to the Guild of Canadian Weavers (GCW) and to the GCW “tests”. There are four levels of tests – Basic, Intermediate, Senior and Master Weaver. This is not a correspondence course, but a series of “problems” which require written and woven work in order to answer each of the 10 problems per test for the first three levels. Each problem requires reading and researching a topic, designing a project, sampling and weaving until you “get it right”. Applicants can submit samples and written work at two designated times a year with the work sent to an examiner who judges and grades each problem. Valerie says it was always a tense time between sending off her work and receiving her marks. Gradually, she worked through the tests, Basic in 1988, Intermediate in 1989 and Senior in 1990. The Senior test requires that you weave on a loom with more than 4 shafts and by then Valerie had a 10-shaft Hollandia countermarche loom.

Finally, Valerie started on the Master Weaver test. This required an In-Depth Study of a topic of her choice and choosing a topic was not an easy task. One day, while preparing material for a course she was teaching, she realized she had never seen Swedish Lace drafted on more than 4 shafts … her In-Depth Study began. As she delved into the research, she compared the structure of Swedish Lace to Bronson and Huck Lace. After many months of working on the topic, weaving samples and writing a thesis, Valerie obtained her Master Weaver certificate in 1992. The following year, she published part of her thesis work in Weaver’s magazine.

Valerie took over teaching Beginner and Intermediate Weaving at the Crafts Guild of Manitoba in 1989 when her teacher, Anne Ayre, moved away. Valerie’s teaching continued until the fall of 1994 when, having completed a 6-month secretarial course, she was working full time and no longer had time to teach.

One of Valerie’s weavings is on display at “In Celebration of Weaving” at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Human Ecology from June 30 – September 16, 1997.


Every piece woven is an achievement. You only need to look through the Show and Tell in our guild’s minutes to realize how many achievements our members have had. Some achievements have been recognized in more visible ways through awards and exhibitions. It is always a concern to list these since undoubtedly some have been missed. My apologies for those names that I may have omitted.


Members of the Guild have participated in a number of weaving projects in which each member contributed samples, photographs or information to a sample book: 50/50 Plain Weave, Huck (1978), Linen Block Weaves (1987), Ingenious Use of Leftovers (1988), Designer Tableware (1989), Fashion Accessories (1990), Towels (1994).

In 1977, Winnipeg craftspeople made Christmas tree decorations and shared their designs and instructions for them in Dot From’s column in the Winnipeg Tribune. Among them, one recognizes the following GCW’s member’s names:

Lee Anderson (Christmas sprang mobile); June Cameron (Finger-weaving decoration); Chung-Ja Jackson (Christmas God’s eye); Betty Kirby (Woven Christmas tree); Laura McHugh (Chinese dragon boat); Henrietta Mullin (Eight-pointed frame); Valerie Olsen (Woven kraemmerhus).



Many members have exhibited their work in exhibitions. Some of the award winners in these exhibitions include:



9th London District Weavers Exhibition of Canadian Hand Weaving, London, 1961
– Ruby Monds and Hilda Lewis

10th Annual Exhibition of Canadian Hand Weaving, 1962
– Margaret Goodwin, Magdalene Horn and Miss E. Ogston

11th Annual Exhibition of Canadian Hand Weaving, T. Eaton Assembly Hall, Winnipeg, 1963

Many of our members appear in the awards catalogue: Ruby Monds won the GCW’s award for “Coat Yardage”. Others include:

Leonida Leatherdale, Ethel Harrison, Margaret Goodwin, Inga Roos, Phyllis Boreham, Laura McHugh, E. Ogston, Magdalene Horn, Mrs. W.J. Beck, Hilda Lewis.

12th Annual Exhibition of Canadian Hand Weaving, Vancouver, 1963
– Ethel Harrison & her husband won for a 90” overshot coverlet



In Praise of Crafts 1979 (Crafts Guild of Manitoba 50th Anniversary juried exhibition)
– Ruby Monds – Merit Award (linen placemats and napkins in M’s & O’s)
– Anne Ayre – Merit Award (rep weave wall hanging)
– Judges Award (rep weave skirt length and loom-shaped shawl)
– Elise Osted – Merit Award (overshot bedspread)
– Lee Anderson – Judges Award (tapestry – silver birch wall hanging)
– Karen Gillespie – Merit Award (inkle loom trimmed fur coat)

In Praise of Crafts 1981 (Crafts Guild of Manitoba juried exhibition)
– Elise Osted – Merit Award (snowball overshot bedspread)
– Anne Ayre – Honourable Mention (dinner mats & runner, 8-harness huck lace

In Praise of Crafts 1983 (Crafts Guild of Manitoba juried exhibition)
– Christina Pokrupa – Honourable Mention (17-harness damask table linen)

In Praise of Crafts 1985 (Crafts Guild of Manitoba juried exhibition)
– Anne Ayre – Award of Merit & Judges Choice Award (Damask Tablecloth)

In Praise of Crafts 1988 (Crafts Guild of Manitoba juried exhibition)
– Anne Ayre – Diamond Jubilee Award: Best Traditional Work (Damask Table Linens – runners, placemats and serviettes)

Red River Exhibition

Over the years, the prize lists show names of our members including Anne Ayre, Heather Carruthers, Denise Dupuis, Laura McHugh, Valerie Olsen and Roberta York to name a few.


Daryl Dancer-Wade – March 1997 – “A Twist on Paper” at the Manitoba Crafts Council Exhibition Gallery


Crafts Guild of Manitoba Gallery

All members of the Guild of Canadian Weavers, Manitoba Branch displayed work in October 1990 (Functional & Fashionable Accessories) and February/March 1994 (My Favourite Things).

In addition to the above, many members have displayed their work in juried and non-juried exhibitions at Crafts Guild of Manitoba Gallery, Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba, Manitoba Craft Council Exhibition Gallery, Red River Exhibition, Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature and the Winnipeg Art Gallery.


The Guild of Canadian Weavers, Manitoba Branch published the Guild of Canadian Weavers Bulletins in 1960, 1969, 1972 (June issue only), 1974, 1981 (Editor: Barbara Henwood), 1986 (Editor: Angela Humphrey) and 1996 (Editor: Roberta York). Originally, a guild was responsible for publishing the entire 5 issues of the Bulletin and at one point 1200 samples were required per issue. Last year we only wove 500 samples for 4 issues and wrote one article per issue, so we had it easy. Back in 1960 our guild wove 2 samples in 2 of the issues and they were fine fabrics too (48 ends per inch) ! By the time we did the Bulletin in 1981, the number of issues had been reduced to 4 per year but our Bulletins were massive being 7, 26, 14 and 11 pages long. By 1986, we limited our text to 4-6 pages.

In addition, our members have published the following:

Anne Ayre. Handwoven Design Collection 11, cover and page 3.
Anne Ayre. 1994. Reversing the Network. Weaver’s 25: 28-29.
Valerie DePorto. 1992. Design Dynamics of Multishaft Swedish Lace. Guild of Canadian
Weaver Master Weaver Monograph
Valerie DePorto. 1993. A Closer Look at Swedish Lace. Weaver’s 21: 50-53.
Janet Hoskins. 1982. Weaving Education in Manitoba in the 1940’s, Master of Science Thesis, Clothing and Textiles, University of Manitoba.
Jo-Anne Tabachek. 1997. The Crackle Connection. Weaver’s 35: 22-24.


“Fair warp and fitting woof
Weaves a web that bideth proof”

Motto of the Canterbury Weavers




It is unfortunate that many years of the local guild’s minutes and records have been lost or misplaced. We can only document the Executive from 1978/79 to the present time:

1978/79 1979/80 1980/81
President Carol Kaye Judy Norton Heather Carruthers
President-Elect Judy Norton Lynne Pedersen Roberta York
Past President Carol Kaye Judy Norton
Secretary Karen Gillespie Karen Gillespie Francine Ruiter
Treasurer Anne Ayre Angela Humphrey Angela Humphrey
Librarian Sue Morison Sue Morison
Assistant Librarian Helen Bochonko Barbara Henwood
Programme Chair Laura McHugh Susan Styrchak
Programme Sally Barker Bill Adkins
Programme Suzanne Brinckman Sally Barker
Programme Linda McFayden
1981/82 1982/83 1983/84
President Roberta York Susan Styrchak Angela Humphrey
President-Elect Susan Styrchak Angela Humphrey Anne Ayre
Past President Heather Carruthers Roberta York Susan Styrchak
Secretary Francine Ruiter Peggy Regehr Peggy Regehr
Treasurer Annette Schiller Annette Schiller Carol Kaye
Librarian Carol Nikols Brigitte Weber Susan Styrchak
Assistant Librarian Brigitte Weber Hazel Jones Anne Orlikow
Programme Heather Carruthers Sophie Munroe
Programme Roberta York
1984/85 1985/86 1986/87
Past President Angela Humphrey Anne Ayre Sophie Munroe
President Anne Ayre Sophie Munroe Karen Sigurdson
President-Elect Christina Pokrupa Karen Sigurdson Francine Ruiter
Secretary Norma Morris Norma Morris Gracia Tworek
Treasurer Carol Kaye Heather Carruthers Valerie DePorto
Librarian Susan Styrchak Susan Styrchak Susan Styrchak
Assistant Librarian Anne Orlikow
Programme Chair Francine Ruiter Brigitte Weber Carol Kaye


1987/88 1988/89 1989/90
Past President Karen Sigurdson Francine Ruiter Margeurite Band
President Francine Ruiter Margeurite Band Christina Pokrupa
President-Elect Margeurite Band Christina Pokrupa Valerie DePorto
Secretary Gracia Tworek Roberta York Roberta York
Treasurer Valerie DePorto Joan Hoemsen Joan Hoemsen
Librarian Susan Styrchak Susan Styrchak
Programme Chair June Cameron
Programme Sabine Delaney Bonnie Davies Helen Pomeroy
Programme Helen Olchowy Angela Humphrey Jo-Anne Tabachek
Programme Valerie Olsen Valerie Olsen


1990/91 1991/92 1992/93
Past President Christina Pokrupa Valerie DePorto Susan Styrchak
President Valerie DePorto Susan Styrchak Jo-Anne Tabachek & Roberta York
President-Elect Sabine DelaneySusan Styrchak Ron Harris Christine Loff
Secretary Bertha Risbey Bertha Risbey Susan Styrchak
Treasurer Joan Hoemsen Patty Sauder Patty Sauder
Librarian Pam Green Pam Green Pam Green
Programme Chair Brigitte Weber Brigitte Weber
Programme Ron Harris
Programme Christina Pokrupa
Programme Francine Ruiter
Programme Patty Sauder
1993/94 1994/95 1995/96
Past President Jo-Anne Tabachek & Roberta York Christine Loff Patty Sauder
President Christine Loff Patty Sauder Christine Loff
President-Elect Patty Sauder Christine Loff Anne Gilmer
Secretary Susan Styrchak Jo-Anne Tabachek Jo-Anne Tabachek
Treasurer Eleanor Van Delden Eleanor Van Delden Eleanor Van Delden
Librarian Pam Green Pam Green Pam Green
Programme Chair Patty Sauder
Programme Valerie DePorto Executive
Programme Anne Gilmer
Programme Pam Green
Programme Valerie Olsen
Programme Francine Ruiter
Programme Jo-Anne Tabachek
Programme Roberta York


1996/97 1997/98
Past President Christine Loff Anne Gilmer
President Anne Gilmer Jo-Anne Tabachek
President-Elect Jo-Anne Tabachek Daryl Dancer-Wade
Secretary Katie Guth Katie Guth
Treasurer Eleanor Van Delden Anne Gilmer
Librarian Pam Green Pam Green
Programme Chair
Programme Executive Executive



President Ethel Harrison 1962-66
1st Vice-President Anne Ayre 1987
2nd Vice-President Anne Ayre 1988
1st Vice-President Valerie DePorto 1995-96
1st Vice President Roberta York 1997
Provincial Reps: Laura McHugh 1967-68
Hazel Cairns 1970
Margaret Groff 1972-84
Susan Styrchak 1984-88
Valerie DePorto 1989-91
Debbie Ott
(national GCW member)



Writing this history was undertaken as a 50th Anniversary project on the suggestion of Valerie Olsen and Roberta York. Thanks go to Dot From who provided valuable information on the Crafts Guild of Manitoba; Bea Sharpe for photographs from the Crafts Guild of Manitoba Archives; Janet Hoskins for her thesis on “Weaving Education in Manitoba in the 1940’s”; Ruby Monds, Margaret Groff and Valerie DePorto for interviews; Valerie Olsen for newspaper clippings; and Carole Morison and Valerie DePorto for photographs. Much of the information on the role of the Searle Grain Company in weaving in Manitoba came from an article by Ethel Harrison in the Guild of Canadian Weavers Bulletin (Vol. 3, No. 1-2, Feb. & Apr. 1960) and reprinted in the Guild of Canadian Weavers, Manitoba Branch newsletter (The Tie-up) in January 1997. Thanks to the Winnipeg Free Press who granted authorization to reproduce the Winnipeg Tribune photograph of Dorothy and Hugh Rankine.

Written by Jo-Anne Tabachek

July 1997