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A conversation between friends led to a meeting at the Barrie Public Library in November, 1945. People gathered from all over the County, thrilled to discover others, such as themselves, who actually made crafts by hand. With the encouragement of these people, plans got underway to form a new group. Thus was born Simcoe County Arts & Crafts Assoction (SCACA).
SCACA's purpose was to foster an appreciation of art and handicafts, to help people throughout the County to obtain craft instruction and find outlets for the sale of their work. The aim was then, and still is more than 60 years later, to encourage artists and craftsmen to work and create original designs and to strive for excellence of workmanship.
Picture is Dr. Louise Colley of Simcoe County Recreation was instrumental in the development of SCACA
A Council Executive was created with a president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer. The County was divided into five sections, and members from each section were encouraged to represent their area on the council. Today, the council operates in a similar structure but with fewer members.
Council planned courses and workshops, lectures, and bus trips to craft centres, films, shows and other events of interest.
In the early years, the Blue Mountains provided an incredible setting for weekend retreats, which were hosted by Jozo Weider.
When plans were being made for Midland's Centenary, William Cranston suggested SCACA hold a quilt and rug exhibit. This met with a certain amount of opposition, as some members felt that quilt making did not fit their definition of a legitimate craft. Was this a craft or a household necessity? Today, quilts can definitely be considered an art form.
A Fair Committee was formed with Audrey Beaver as chairman. The public was invited to lend their heirloom quilts, and quilters were encouraged to make new quilts. Thor Hansen, an outstanding artist and designer of Canadian themes, offered to draw some quilt and rug designs inspired by Simcoe County's history and nature. The Hansen designs drew much attention, and led to his being invited to plan the interior decoration based on Canadian designs for the corporate offices of the British American Oil Company across Canada. This theme of local sources for design continued with Ada Torrance, who produced a number of designs for SCACA.
Past president picture is in the Gallery. Past Presidents taken at the Fair in 1990, l. to r. Norma Boddy, Hilda Sibthorpe, Susan Harrison, Shirley Poole and Lois Day.
The Fair opened in July, 1949, with 140 quilts on display. Side by side with the old and well-loved designs and fine quilting, were the new, original ones. Great crowds attended that first Fair. The philosophy of the Fair was to encourage people to value the old arts of quilt and rug making. This event was the first of its kind in all of Canada, and reports of it could be found in newspapers country-wide, and in other periodicals such as Readers' Digest.
The Quilt and Rug Fair was held every year in church halls, armouries, arenas, and schools around the County. In 1975, the Fair, which now included crafts, was moved into its permanent and current location, the Simcoe County Museum.
SCACA has had a wide variety of opporunities for residents of Simcoe County: fairs, exhibits, juried competitions, lectures, seminars, presentations by respected artists and crafters, and this continues to this day.
Today, SCACA is still a vital resource in Simcoe County. As a result of a Trillium grant for Heritage Textile Crafts workshops, this website, a DVD of six heritage craft, Council believes the association will strengthen even further.
As with the first classes, and the first quilt and rug fairs, artists are encouraged to create designs that fit in with current lifestyles.
--- Ruth Byers, December 1, 2007