In 1989, Muskoka &
Crafts established the Life Time Membership to recognize the outstanding
contributions of our members who are the heart of the organization.
- ROSS ASHFORTH
was born in 1925 in Toronto. A chartered accountant, Ross moved from
Toronto to Gravenhurst in 1973 when he accepted a position as the
treasurer for the Town of Gravenhurst, a position he held until his
retirement in 1987.
has two passions – oil painting and gardening. A few years ago, Canada
Blooms chose his garden as the best in any municipality with a population
of 15,000 or less, an honor he cherishes.
member of Muskoka Arts & Crafts for nearly 25 years, Ross has always
found his membership stimulating and rewarding.
The organization has always been able to count upon Ross to cheerfully
help out with our events such as the Spring Members’ Show and the Summer
Show. Ross' volunteering doesn't end with Muskoka Arts & Crafts as he
is very active within his community and church.
- HILARY CLARK COLE
A member since the early 1970s,
Hilary has been an inspirational volunteer and artist.
Art has always been a
guiding force for this native of Victoria, British Columbia who graduated
from the Ontario College of Art in 1969. As a sculptor in welded steel and
bronze, Hilary finds that her best work emerges when she sets out to do
something that may not be possible in her medium. Because steel is a
relatively new sculptural medium compared to bronze, wood or stone, there
were not examples of certain techniques and it forced a kind of innovation
where Hilary became an artistic pioneer.
Her work can be very small or very large, rough or smooth, monochromatic
or colourful. It can range in subject matter from a tiny sculpture of a
flower, where the curve of the leaf makes one think it is real, to a ten
inch bronze or steel female figure that seems human in its detail and
beauty, to the fantasy faces that command the wall, to a study of a crow,
steely-natured, with blue-black torch-coloured wings, to a life-size
figure such as Silhouette, chunks of weathered steel speaking of power and
wild nature. The pieces that give Hilary the most pride and joy is when
the steel medium and the artist’s spirit combine successfully. It is
then a marriage of material and subject matter and a true work of
In a video presentation about her artistic
life that was shown at the Opening Reception at the Spring Members’
Show, Hilary remarked: "With a group like Muskoka Arts & Crafts,
it is a burgeoning population of artists. We are in fact one of Muskoka’s
natural resources in my opinion. We have the lakes the rocks and the
trees, and we have the artists."
- MARGUERITE WEBSTER
Marguerite Webster is a painter – and
also a delightful storyteller. Ask about her paintings and you’ll
inevitably hear about spiders, or ducks hatching during a dinner party, or
the exciting rescue of some fugitive guinea pigs – all colourful stories
related to her experiences as a artist. Her paintings, like her stories,
reveal a tranquility, a joyful spontaneity, and a reverence for the
natural world. Working with oils, watercolours, pencils, and pastels;
Marguerite depicts images from the world around her – images of flowers,
trees, animals, and rocks.
As a child, Marguerite always drew and painted; and she attended
Saturday morning classes at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Later, marriage,
and five children, curtailed Marguerite’s painting for a time; but in
the mid-1960s, she embarked on a three-year correspondence course which
provided training in oil, watercolour, drawing, composition, and
technique. Marguerite’s work has been seen over the years in the Brown
Baggers’ exhibits, and her tireless energy as a volunteer is always in
evidence at our shows.
- BETTY DRYSDALE
Betty Drysdale was born on March 3, 1928 in
Windsor. Betty studied music and geography at McGill University, earning
her B.A. in 1951. It was at McGill University that Betty met Mike Drysdale.
They were married on September 20, 1952 and settled in Snowdon, Quebec. In
1986, Betty and Mike moved to their retirement home in Bracebridge.
In Muskoka, Betty promptly joined the Brown Baggers and Muskoka Arts
& Crafts and was able to rekindle her artistic talents. She was a
devoted member of Muskoka Arts & Crafts and served on the board as
Recording Secretary from 1988 to 1992. She fulfilled her role as Recording
Secretary with thoughtfulness, attention to detail and always kept the
best interests of the members and of Muskoka Arts & Crafts foremost in
her mind. From 1987 to 1992, Betty wrote an informative monthly
newsletter. Betty was one of those members who could always be relied upon
to cheerfully volunteer at all of Muskoka Arts & Crafts’ events, to
take her duties seriously, and to perform whatever tasks she undertook
with conscientious dedication. She personified the term exemplary member
and, in 2004, was recognized with a LifeTime Honorary Membership, a
program she had initiated in 1990. Betty also volunteered in other areas
of the community, especially with the Hospital Auxiliary which honoured
her with a life time membership. Betty and Mike spent countless enjoyable
hours planning, preparing and tending the beautiful gardens at their home
in Bracebridge. On August 19, 2005, Betty passed away suddenly in her sleep. The
family held a memorial reception on August 23 at the Chapel Gallery where
there were floral bouquets from Betty’s own gardens and her piano music
played in the background as people shared the special ways that she had
touched their lives.
- Jim & Donna Drury
Jim Drury was born in Sudbury, Ontario, and
has had a lifelong interest in woodcarving, nature, drawing and
photography. In 1958, he married his wife, Donna, and together they raised
Jim had an 18-year career in the Royal
Canadian Air Force, and during those years spent his off-duty time carving
crests for offices and individuals in Canada and other countries. He left
the services to teach woodcarving at the Catherine Whyte Multi-Cultural
Center in Cold Lake Alberta, and in the summer of 1975, received a grant
from the Alberta Government to travel overseas and research woodcarving.
Jim also taught woodcarving courses at The Alberta Vocational College, as
well as seminars in parks, and evening classes through Northwest
Community. The Drurys moved to the Queen Charlotte Islands, where for five
years Jim fished halibut, but continued his carving.
In 1983, the Drurys came to Muskoka. They
were enthusiastic, active members, and participated in many shows. Jim has
been awarded the Patricia Boyer award at the 1996 Spring Members’ Show,
an Excellence in Woodcarving in 1992, and many honourable
mentions. During his twenty years in Muskoka, Jim accepted commissions for
woodcarving in homes and cottages throughout Canada and the United States.
Among these were the doors and chapel furniture for St. Margaret’s
Church in Midland, a large puzzle map of Canada for Glaxo Smith and Kline
in Mississauga, and carvings in the round produced as award presentations
for Tourism Industry Association of Canada. The creator of the well-known
comic strip, "For better or For Worse," commissioned two carved
doors. Jim has always credited Donna as a full partner in his artistic
endeavours. In fact, he asserts that his role – doing the drawing and
carving – is by far the easy part. He maintains that Donna’s
contribution – which includes not only finishing the pieces, but also
preparing for the shows, keeping the accounts, providing constructive
criticism – is a more than equal share.
Jim and Donna now reside in Sidney, on
- LYNN TAYLOR
Lynn Taylor’s commitment to our organization has indeed been
extraordinary. Her service spanned ten years on the Board, eight of those
years as President. During those years, our organization developed and
thrived and Lynn was instrumental in that evolution. Many of the policies
and procedures that today govern the day-to-day operation of Muskoka Arts
& Crafts and that provide the firm foundation for its continued
success, are due in large part to her skill and dedication. Of course,
like all organizations, Muskoka Arts & Crafts has experienced its
share of growing pains. On those occasions, as in times of triumph, Lynn’s
personal grace was always in evidence. Her caring, her fairness and her
good common sense were attributes that everyone who worked with Lynn
relied upon and valued. Muskoka Arts & Crafts has greatly benefited
from her time and her talents.
- GRETA & KEN CLINE
Greta and Ken Cline were recognized for
their active contributions to the arts community for the past 35 years.
These members made it possible for 1,500 students to annually take part in
workshops and courses in Muskoka through Georgian College during the late
1960s and 70s. Now, this feat alone would be worthy of an award, but then
they went on to organize and host the
Northern Regional Show for the Ontario
Crafts Council in the mid 1970s. And, when they retired, it was difficult
to tell, because they took a course themselves and built a log house and
gallery outside of Huntsville.
Ken taught woodworking at Huntsville High
School for many years and is still remembered for an exquisite violin he
made and exhibited at the 1970 Spring Members' Show. He is an accomplished
photographer who took great pride in developing his own pictures and still
remains active with his furniture-making.
Greta is warmly remembered for her pottery,
textiles, silversmithing, enameling and braided rugs.
It's a humbling experience to meet such a
talented pair, but a great inspiration to all of us who share a love of
Ken died on January 9,
2011 in his 89th year. Greta Cline died on October 21, 2014 at the age of
- JEAN W.A. FORDER
Jean W.A. Forder was born in Skipton-in-Craven,
Yorkshire, England on July 28, 1918. During the Second World War, Jean was
employed as a dispatcher for the London Fire Brigade. Some time after the
war, Jean trained in social service work, specializing in
In 1961, Jean emigrated to Canada,
enthusiastic for an adventure that freed her from the restrictions and
predictability of life in England. During the 1960s, Jean continued her
career in social work in The Pas, Manitoba. Then, in the 1970s, Jean made
her life in Muskoka, living in Port Carling.
Retirement for Jean meant beginning an
active career by developing her artistic talent and zestfully contributing
to the art community in Muskoka. She took classes in her first love –
watercolour – and expanded her interest in other media as well. She won
a number of ribbons at the Bracebridge Fall Fair and several awards from
Muskoka Arts & Crafts for her work.In 1985, Jean began the Brown
Baggers, a group of artists dedicated to developing their talents,
encouraging each other and setting artistic goals for themselves each
Jean was a member of the Board of Directors
for Muskoka Arts & Crafts, actively working to develop the arts side
of the organization. In 1991, she received a volunteer service award for
her service to Muskoka Arts & Crafts and in 2001was made an honorary
life time member in the organization.
Jean’s talents were many – encouraging,
networking, mentoring – and she attracted many, many friends to her with
her ability to accept and find the positive in all.
Jean died on May 31, 2001.
- LYETTE BEAULAC
Lyette Beaulac is a
member who epitomizes what it means to give generously of one’s time and
talent. For over ten years, Lyette contributed to the professionalism of
the Spring Show as a volunteer in charge of the display of the art and a
multi-award winner. For seventeen years, she was a mainstay of the Summer
Show with a devoted following. Through her weaving, Lyette has been a
mentor to other artists and brought a greater awareness and appreciation
to the craft of weaving. Lyette along with her husband Tom, left Muskoka
to pursue their dream of living on board their sailboat and travelling to
- MINZI TANNEBERGER
With her unquenchable spirit and zest
for life, Minzi Tanneberger inspires those who
surround her. Minzi ’s sense
of adventure has taken many forms. Upon her arrival in this country, she
immediately set to work transforming her small house into a glowing work
of art by using her tole painting talents. She has painted everything from
the mural outside the Port Carling IGA to her sister’s dog’s nails. In
addition to her decorative painting, Minzi is also a storyteller, writer,
and book illustrator. She has a passion for skiing and canoeing and would
be seen paddling upstream for groceries or nonchalantly recovering from an
overturned boat. Minzi is an integral member of the Brown Baggers who
cherish her for her artistry as well as her height when hanging a show!
- DOROTHY AILEEN BOYD WILLIAMS
Dorothy Aileen Boyd Williams (Dodie) was
born in Toronto in 1918, was educated there, married there and raised her
Dodie was always creating, either doodling
while talking on the telephone, drawing her famous little Henry sketches
on the bottom of letters to friends and family, creating Christmas cards
or intently studying a painting or piece she was working on. She loved art
so much that, with some creative penmanship and without her parents’
permission, she transferred herself from North Toronto Collegiate to
Northern Vocational Collegiate as they had the best art courses in Toronto
at that time. All she wanted to do was draw, and her parents, latterly
In the late 1970s, Dodie and her husband,
Ted, moved to Muskoka and quickly became active and involved members with
Muskoka Arts & Crafts. Together, they both exhibited at the Summer
Show for a number of years, Dodie with her exquisite tole painted pieces
and charming painted miniatures and Ted with his first love, photography,
and later with his beautiful handbound books. They booth took their turns
helping out wherever they could be it demonstrating their crafts, minding
a gate or assisting with shows.
After Ted passed away, Dodie wanted to
honour his memory and established the Ted Williams Memorial Award for Most
Innovative Work, which was given annually at the Spring Members’
Dodie died on April 10, 2007.
- ROSEMARY LAPENSKIE
Rosemary Lapenskie's passion for the arts
has been an inspiration. Throughout her twelve years in Muskoka, Rosemary
has quietly lent her support to many individual artists, encouraged the
creative spirit in our youth and contributed her insights for the
direction of this organization. Rosemary has happily volunteered her
services in many capacities. She has been a regular fixture at the Summer
Show as a craftsperson, gate greeter, sales relief and moral supporter. When
a position on the Executive was vacant, Rosemary served as Recording Secretary.
Valiantly, she waded through the difficult early stages of the rewriting
of the constitution. Many children have been initiated into the joys of
drawing through Rosemary's workshops at the Chapel Gallery, in the
community and at her home. She has coordinated the Jean. E. MacDonald Memorial
Award for four years, actively promoting it through the art departments of
the Muskoka high schools. For ten years, Rosemary coordinated the Life
Drawing Open Studio. But Rosemary's dedication to the arts does not stop
here with her volunteer services. She also writes poetry and has published
articles on the arts in the local newspapers. In 1998, Rosemary moved to British
- RUTH UPJOHN & DOROTHY SEIXAS
Ruth Upjohn and Dorothy (Dot) Seixas are synonymous
with the arts in Muskoka. With great enthusiasm, sincerity and devotion,
Ruth and Dot have promoted the arts and artists of Muskoka. Cottagers
wince 1934, this dynamic duo have seen each and every Muskoka Autumn Studio
Tour and Summer Show. From 1967 until 1992, they organized an art show at
Branksome Hall in Toronto. Over the years, eighteen Muskoka artists
participated in this show. They continued to organize shows for Muskoka
artists at the Women's Art Association which was formed in the 1890s to
give women a place to experience the arts.
Ruth was introduced to the arts as a child
when members of the Group of Seven, whose studio was located behind her childhood
Toronto home, would come for dinner. She recalled a time when her mother
found it difficult to entice buyers to purchase their $25 paintings.
Seeing the struggle artists faced galvanized Ruth to a life-long patronage
of the arts.
For forty-five years, Ruth taught kindergarten
at Branksome Hall. Dot taught music to the kindergarten class. In the mid
1990s, Ruth and Dot collaborated on a book of kindergarten songs of the
19th and early 20th century. Over 400 copies of the book sold with the
proceeds going to a bursary fund for students at the school.
Of their support of Muskoka art, Ruth
remarked: "It does me good to help the artists by taking about their
work to others. Word of mouth is a powerful promotional tool."
died on July 6, 2005. Ruth died on February 4, 2006.
- MIEKE MARTIN-SOONTIENS
In the late 1970s Mieke Martin Soontiens
began her journey into clay at Georgian College under the tutelage of Eric
Over the years, her gallery, Pine Lake
Gallery, has played host to many group shows which helped to encourage and
promote other local talents. Her Saturday morning children's classes
inspired her students to exp lore and share in the joy found in the
endless possibilities of clay.
Mieke has been a long-time member of the
Muskoka Autumn Studio Tour and has supported it as an opportunity to
educate the art and craft consumer.
During the years of Jean MacDonald's presidency,
Mieke served on the Executive of Muskoka Arts & Crafts as the 2nd
vice-president and served on a number of our jury panels. Her culinary
talents are legendary and each year she single handedly prepared and
served a luncheon to the Spring Show judges and organizers.
In March of 1998, Mieke and her husband,
David, moved to Nova Scotia.
- SANDY GOHM
- DOUG GATCKE
Doug Gatcke was born on December 3,
1934, in Kitchener. In 1957, he received his diploma in Sales and
Marketing from Ryerson. He worked as a salesman for a pharmaceutical
company and then with Xerox. In 1970, after seven years with Xerox, Doug
and his wife, Enid purchased the Grand Central Hotel in Orangeville.
Working countless hours, Doug renovated the hotel and quickly developed it
into a successful hotel and restaurant. Six years later, at the age of 40,
Doug realized he wanted more time with his family and sold the hotel –
it was a defining moment in the Doug’s life for the couple moved to Lake
Butterfly in Glen Orchard. Here Doug rekindled his love of woodworking and
began carving burl bowls and creating marquetry. What first started as a
hobby, quickly developed into a full time job. He was a member of the
Muskoka Autumn Studio Tour and Muskoka Arts & Crafts where he was the
president for four years and a long-time exhibitor at the Summer Show. In
1997, Doug was presented with a Lifetime Membership and had the Members’
Choice Award at the Spring Members’ Show named in his honour. One of his
turned maple burl bowls was accepted into the Permanent Collection in
1992. Another defining moment for Doug came on February 29, 1996, when he
suffered a major stroke that would leave him completely debilitated. When
Doug was transferred to the Shaver Rehabilitation Hospital in St.
Catharines, he entered the hospital in a wheelchair but was determined to
walk out upon his discharge. After 4 months of extensive therapy, Doug
walked out of the hospital and return to Muskoka. Realizing that they
would be unable to live in Muskoka, they sold their home in 1997 and moved
to Fonthill. On February 26, 2006, Doug passed away at the age of 71.
- JON & SUZANN PARTRIDGE
Muskoka Arts & Crafts owes much of its
history to Jon and Suzann Partridge. Their minds, hears and hands have
helped to shape the growth and direction of our organization.
Jon and Suzann moved to Muskoka at the
start of the 1970s and over the years have transformed a once working 100
acre farm into one of Muskoka's most popular pottery studios. The
Partridges also took an active interest in the artistic development of
their home community.
Joining Muskoka Arts & Crafts, Jon and
Suzan have served the organization in many different ways. They have been
fixtures at the Summer Show since the early 1970s until 2001. Their work
have been exhibited at the Chapel Gallery and at the annual Spring
Members' Show where it has won numerous awards. One of Jon's innovative
pottery paintings was selected for Muskoka Arts & Crafts' Permanent
Collection in 1987. This talented couple have share their experiences
through teaching: Jon with Mohawk College in Hamilton, Nipissing University
in North Bay and Haliburton's School of Fine Arts for example. Suzann has
taught many workshops for the local schools.
Jon and Suzann have actively helped to
direct the arts in Muskoka. Jon has served as President for Muskoka Arts
& Crafts while Suzann has been involved with education and has been a
Together, Jon and Suzann have been a solid
and continual source of ideas, support and encouragement.
- BETTY & WALTER REYNOLDS
Whenever you look through the scrapbook
documenting Muskoka Arts & Crafts' history or listen to people
recounting their memories, Betty and Walter Reynolds are mentioned time
and time again. The Reynolds joined Muskoka Arts & Crafts in 1967.
From 1968 until 1970, Walter served as President. During this time, Betty
was the librarian and they were both involved with overseeing the
organization of the Summer Show, which under their guidance, greatly
expanded. Betty and Walter were steady exhibitors at the Summer Show from
1967 until the early 1990s.
The couple's interest in their craft began
as a hobby in 1964 when they took their first trip west after selling
their funeral home business. An interest in collecting rocks for their garden
led to an interest of tumbling and polishing stones then to silversmithing.
They learned the fundamentals of their craft
by attending workshops. Betty shared her knowledge by teaching many
workshops at Georgian College and Muskoka Arts & Crafts. As they
learned more about lapidary and silversmithing, the Reynolds became highly
inventive as Walter constructed their own silversmithing equipment as well
as cutting, tumbling and grinding tools.
The quality of their work has been
recognized at the Spring Members' Shows, the Ontario Crafts
Council and in 1986, one of their sterling silver spoons was selected to be
part of Muskoka Arts & Crafts' Permanent Collection.
Walter died on February 7, 2006 at the age
of 93. Betty died on May 20, 2013 in her 91st year.
- KATHARINE ISABEL (KAY) BEERS
Kay Beers was known in Bracebridge for her
many interests and enthusiasm which included many years of public service
as the first woman on council, the first female member of the Board of
Education, organizing night school classes and spending many years on the
Recreation Committee. She was well known as an excellent cook, a cheerful
volunteer, a happy bus driver, great billeter and fantastic friend and
neighbour. She knitted countless teddy bears for charity, delivered Meals
on Wheels and drove patients to hospital appointments. Kay was extremely athletic
wining many trophies for badminton, swimming and curling.
Kay was born in Bala. She was educated in
Toronto and taught physical education first at the YWCA in Ottawa, then at
Alma College in St. Thomas, Ontario, followed by a year in Moncton, New
Brunswick where she met Ken Beers. They married in 1939 and had only a
short time together before World War I. Flying Officer Ken Beers was lost
in 1944. Kay and her two children returned to Muskoka where she accepted a
position at the Bank of Nova Scotia in Bracebridge retiring after thirteen
years in 1965.
Kay was a founding member of Muskoka Arts
& Crafts. She died on December 24, 2002, in her 93rd year.
- HELVI MOORE
Born in Copper Cliff and raised in Sudbury,
Helvi Moore was trained to be a public school teacher. After teaching for
eight years in Muskoka and while she was raising her family, she studied
oil painting with Hug Olms in weekly night classes in Bracebridge.
Subsequently, she studied oils, watercolours and pastels. Helvi also
taught herself how to paint with acrylics. Since 1975, Helvi won many
awards for her work. The paintings by the members of the Group of Seven particularly
interested Helvi. Some of her favourite subjects were rocks, pines and
water - all typical features of the north. In addition, Helvi enjoyed
painting subjects that had local historical significance such as the old
railway station in Bracebridge. Helvi joined Muskoka Arts & Crafts at
its inception and regularly showed her work at the Spring, Christmas and
- JEAN ARMOUR BISHOP
Jean Bishop came from Woodbridge where she
grew up in a family of doctors. "I'm always grateful to my mother for
recognizing my inclination towards drawing," Jean said. "I was
not a good student in the academic sense so Mother saw to it that I
attended an art school." That art school was Western Tech in Toronto
where Jean took the commercial art course but never made it her career.
Jean married Hugh Bishop, a jeweler, and
introduced him to the Kahshe Lake area where her family had vacationed for
many years. The couple eventually moved to Gravenhurst. Jean, meanwhile,
had taken up painting again and took local workshops in art,
silk-screening, puppetry, pottery and batik. In the 1970s, she taught
painting in three local schools and Georgian College. Together with Marie
Aiken, Jean tried, without success, to start a Gravenhurst Arts and Crafts
Group. Then, when Muskoka Arts & Crafts began in 1962, Jean did what
she could to encourage it in the southern parts of the District.
It was appropriate that one of the first
pieces initiated into the Permanent Collection of Muskoka Arts &
Crafts was one belonging to a founding member. The painting selected was a
delicate watercolour portraying an early Muskoka farm house. Old buildings
and homesteads were the subject of most of Jean's paintings. Her best work
were done on location, often in below zero temperatures with her paint box
on the front seat of the car.
died on April 9, 2007, in her 82nd year.
- MAE KENNEDY
Mae Kennedy was born on July 2, 1922, in
Shawville, Quebec. Mae's love of art was evident very early after drawing
on her desk at school and day dreaming about what was yet to come.
Marrying Thomas Alva Kennedy and moving to Muskoka, Mae and Tom started a
Mae's love and enthusiasm for art was
on-going with sketching trips with her artist friends. Mae showed her
paintings in a summer show held in Memorial Park, located in downtown
Bracebridge. From this first outdoor show grew Muskoka Arts & Crafts
and its renown Summer Show. Learning and working in various mediums, Mae
developed different interests and abilities in various media. She studied
fine art at Georgian College. The enjoyment of creating and incorporating
designs was evident when Mae studied religious symbolism to represent
works through stitchery in numerous priests' robes for clerical customers.
Community based groups also called on Mae for her expertise in the creations
of customs for plays and dramatic presentations.
Throughout the years, Mae won numerous
awards for her art. She attended the Life Drawing Open Studio held at the
Chapel Gallery, of which, Tom was occasionally called upon to model.
Professionally, Mae worked for the Ministry
of Education teaching art therapy to Native and Inuit patients while
working at the Sanatorium for Tuberculosis in Muskoka. Until her
retirement in 1985, she also worked for the Ministry for Community and
Social Services as an art instructor for people with special needs.
Mae died on September 21, 2011.
- DAISY MURPHY
At the age of 84, Daisy Murphy received a
Life Time Membership at a special ceremony at the Bracebridge Villa. Since
1946, Daisy had lived in Bracebridge when her husband, York, was
transferred here by the Bank of Nova Scotia.
She began to actively paint in 1947. Daisy
introduced many people to Muskoka Arts & Crafts and was known for her
wonderful garden parties where she brought together people from all sorts
of varied backgrounds and shared her enthusiasm for the organization. As
well as being an artist, Daisy was a champion badminton player and a keen
- ETTA ORTWEIN
Etta Ortwein did much to ensure that the
tradition of rug hooking was not forgotten. Her talent is preserved in the
pieces themselves and in the wisdom and sill she passed on to others.
Hooking rugs had been on the periphery of
Etta's experience since childhood as her mother hooked rugs using her
father's old clothes. She virtually stopped hooking rugs when she left her
childhood home near Harmony Corners, just outside of Gravenhurst. The
decades that followed were filled with work on a farm and with the raising
of her family. In 1945, she and her husband moved into Gravenhurst where
she became actively involved in the Women's Institute, the Silver Moon
Rebecca Lodge and the Horticultural Society. It was with the Women's
institute that she attended a demonstration, in the late 1950s, of a
clothing-cutting machine. When she learned that there were weekend classes
held at a farm in Vineland, Etta began attending them regularly. From
these beginnings, the Ontario Hooking Craft Guild was formed and Etta was
a member of the Guild since it began in the 1960s. Having decided to make
rug hooking a full-time occupation, Etta joined the newly formed Muskoka
Arts & Crafts.
Etta's concession to her octogenarian years
has been to switch from teaching rug hooking courses in the schools to
giving private lessons in her home on a one-to-one basis. "There's so
much you can do with rug hooking skills," Etta once remarked.
"It's not just making rugs. With sculpturing and shading techniques,
you can create three-dimensional pictures of flowers and birds. There's so
much scope for creativity."
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