The idea for a Montreal storytelling group goes back to 1988 when a group of local tellers met the late Helen Porter at a Quebec English Language Arts Conference. The group was inspired to arrange further workshops with Rosalyn Cohen, then residing in Montreal, and by September 1990 the Storytelling Guild of Montreal had become a reality. This core group of 12 members initially arranged informal meetings in their homes to exchange stories but, in order to accommodate a larger audience, they moved first to a Montreal girls’ school and later to the Atwater Library. Since 2005 the Guild has been meeting at the Westmount Library.
Over the years the Guild has grown and evolved. Guild members have performed at literary events and storytelling festivals, and they have been active professionally in community storytelling activities in libraries, schools, religious centres, museums, etc. They have been featured on radio, TV and newspapers. We arrange occasional workshops with local and international leaders to train young (or young at heart!) tellers to ensure the continuation of the storytelling tradition, as well as to improve the skills of more seasoned members. We have developed strong links with Québec francophone storytellers and we have built a network with other tellers and storytelling groups in Canada and other countries. But throughout its history, the main focus of the Guild has always been the monthly story-swapping evening. At any given swap, about 25 people come together to share folk and fairy tales, myths, legends, personal stories, adaptation of literary stories – even the occasional tall tale. We come from different cultural and professional backgrounds, we are young and not-so-young, but one thing unites us: a great love of stories.