About the OVWSG
A weaving and spinning group existed in Ottawa under the auspices of the Ottawa Civil Service Recreation Association from 1943 to 1946. Due to space limitations, in 1947 five weavers met privately to form an independent handweaving group, which eventually led to the formation of the Bytown Weavers' Guild. In 1949, weavers attending a conference sponsored by the Ottawa Recreation Commission and the Ontario Department of Education expressed an interest in forming a new guild. Consequently, on September 20, 1949, the Ottawa Valley Weavers' Guild was founded. Eventually, the Bytown Guild dispanded because it's members were more involved with the Ottawa Valley Weavers' Guild. As a matter of interest, the then Governer General's wife, Lady Alexander, who was interested in weaving, was extended the first honourary membership in the Guild.
The first meetings were held at the old Ottawa Teachers' College off Elgin Street and eventually other sites in Ottawa. In 1979, the Guild started holding meetings in the gym of Devonshire Public School on Breezehill. In 1997, the Guild changed meeting sites once again to the Churchill Seniors Centre on Richmond Road. Unfortunately, due to space limitaions at the Seniors Centre, the guild needed to move again in 2000, this time to the Fisher Park Community Centre. However, that location was a bit cramped for our needs. That, and other factors, forced us to look again and in 2003 we finally found a suitable home and are now happily settled into our present location at Heartwood House.
In 1986, the Guild's name was changed to the Ottawa Valley Weavers' and Spinners' Guild to acknowledge the many spinners in the group. The purpose and objectives of the Guild have always been to promote interest in weaving and spinning and to encourage a high standard of craftsmanship and design.
1960 appears to be the first year the Guild held a public exhibition in the form of a spring tea and exhibit. This event lasted only a few years. Although the Guild members had displays and exhibits at other functions, it was not until 1980 that the annual fall sale became a regular event
Over the years, Guild members have been involved in several major projects requiring member participation. In 1952, Guild members undertook the major task of weaving 300 towels which were used as favors at a Beta Sigma Phi Sorority convention. A sample of these finely woven towels is shown in the Guild's History Book which is in the Guild's library. For the OHS 1976 Convention, our members wove 400 belts using various weaving techniques, such as tablet, inkle, sprang, etc. in 1986, our membership wove 300 of the samples for the registrants' kits for the Handweavers Guild of America's international conference, Convergence, held in Toronto.
A permanent facility for the guild's equipment was finally realized with the grand opening of the Resource Centre in November 2003. A place for spinners and weavers to congregate as well as inviting members of the community to become involved with lessons and workshops.
A book outlining in detail the history of our Guild has been compiled and is in our Library. Although not available for general circulation, it is available during meetings.