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The Manitoba Branch

In the nippy cold of a Winnipeg day in January 1928, more than 30 women gathered at the Manitoba Legislative Building to organize a branch of the Canadian Handicrafts Guild. With Lady Constance Nanton leading this intelligent, ambitious, committed and energetic body of women, the Manitoba Branch was born: their mandate, to search out new work and to preserve the old. It was hoped that the new branch would generate funds, serve useful in helping to solve the rural problems of the day, and preserve the crafts that new Canadians had brought with them from their homelands. Thus, we look back on women helping women, determined to improve their society and to recognize the talents, the traditions and the artistic merit that peoples from all nations brought with them.

Image of a Block print for the Canadian Handicrafts Guild Manitoba Branch

Block print for the Canadian Handicrafts Guild Manitoba Branch.

Right from the start, the Manitoba Branch members set high standards. In the 69 years that followed, they continually developed and strengthened their mandate. Education became a focal point of their agenda. As the shop grew, members realized the need to ensure quality in design and workmanship. Excellent, long-lasting work remained the priority.

Image of a variety of tools used to create a wide range of wonderful hand crafted items

A variety of tools used to create a wide range of wonderful hand crafted items.

So strong was the Manitoba Branch's sense of purpose that, instead of being overwhelmed by catastrophic events such as the 1929 Wall Street crash that left millions penniless, the debilitating Depression of the 1930s, the horror of World War II, or the devastation of the 1950 Red River Flood, these events seemed to almost re-invigorate the Branch. Organizational history speaks of a continual pursuit to upgrade policies, formulate new programs, become involved in the community, and maintain increasingly high standards.

* The research for the Crafts of Guild of Manitoba History relied heavily on "The History of the Crafts Guild of Manitoba" by Dot From, 2001.