September 2015 – August 2016
President: Irvin Griffith, Treasurer: Jane Amro
Number of Members: 36
- Story swapping evenings: held monthly from September to June; average number of attendees per swap: 25 people
- World Storytelling Day: Guild members performed on March 24, 2016 at Eleanor London Côte-St Luc Library
- Canadian Storytelling night: celebrated at the Westmount library in November 2015; theme “Let the fur fly”
- Québec Intercultural Storytelling Festival: participation of members of the Guild Oct 24, 2015 at the Atwater Library; theme “Ties that bind: landscape of family lore”
- Workshop : Nov 21, 2015; 8-hour seminar; moderator Alexis Roy
- Annual potluck dinner & meeting: July 14 2016, at Selina Eisenberg’s home; mid-year planning meeting: January 28, 2016 at Christine Mayr’s home
The Storytelling Guild of Montreal: A Short Story
First published in Appleseed Quarterly, May 1996 Vol. 6 No. 2 (The Canadian Journal of Storytelling)
by Nancy Eddis
Springboards 1988 brought Helen Porter, the Toronto storyteller, to Quebec’s English Language Arts Conference. At a workshop at that conference a group met to explore storytelling with Helen. Amongst those present at that session were Jan Gregory, Gwen Johnston, Ingrid Kosijer, Ed Miller, Dianea Carroll Phillips and Anna Richarson. Ed Miller took names of those interested in continuing storytelling and contacted Rosalyn Cohen to give more workshops to the group. The rest, as they say, is history.
By September 1990 the group had officially become organized. Twelve people told stories to each other in homes and visited storytelling festivals in Burlington, Vermont; Toronto, Ontario; and Jonesborough, Tennessee. In order to involve others interested in storytelling a swapping ground was established which first met in a Montreal girls’ school.
In 1992, at Rosalyn Cohen’s initiative, a grant was received from Montreal’s 350th Anniversary Committee to present three evenings of story, music and dance: Montreal’s Mosaic in Story. Guild members were very busy creating these colourful events which were enjoyed by many people.
May, 1993 found the storytelling Guild of Montreal hosting the founding meeting of Storytellers of Canada/Raconteurs du Canada. Many of us who were involved in that special event are still telling tales at Guild meetings today.
In March 1994, the Guild presented a family concert called Save the Birds supporting Treetops, a group of people committed to rescuing abandoned and injured birds.
Since 1990 the Guild has grown and transformed with storytelling events, especially in the form of a swapping ground, continuing to be a focus for the group. These meetings, held the first Friday of each month from October to June, 8 to 10 p.m. at the Atwater Library, 1200 Atwater Avenue in Montreal, feature storytellers and listeners. Twenty to thirty people attend these sessions. A $3 donation, $2 for students, is collected, or a $20 membership fee entitles people to attend a year of story swapping sessions free, join in the two yearly social functions, attend business meetings and become more involved in the functioning of the group.
The leadership organization of the group has changed from a formal president, treasurer, secretary style to that of a more fluid steering committee. For 1995-96 Rosalyn Cohen, Nancy Eddis, Ingrid Kosijer, Eta Markowicz, Margaret Nicolai, Dianea Carroll Phillips and Katherine Willett have been the steering committee.
Two forty-five minute planning sessions were held before the March and April 1996 swapping meetings to plan for next year’s story swapping gatherings,to discuss fund raising (of course the rent has gone up!) and to address issues raised by the nineteen Guild members.
Guild members have taken initiative in 1995-96. Rosalyn Cohen and Pierre Renault have created “A Small Directory: Conteurs, Conteuses and Storytellers in Montreal”. Denise Markham formed Storycircle, where the second and fourth Thursdays of the month find bilingual storytelling participation at the Yellow Door, a coffee house for the artistic community, near McGill University. Guild members are professionally involved in storytelling at schools, religious centres, museums, literary events, prisons, festivals and conferences. Radio, TV and newspapers have featured us in interviews and storytelling.
Networking has become a Guild function. This has included answering storytelling questions raised by in- and out-of-Montrealers and those of other countries, and sharing information about storytelling resources and events. Some have enjoyed visits to Anne Rothfel’s storytelling meetings in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Six or more Guild members attended the 18th Annual Toronto Festival of Storytelling. Past conferences and festivals in Whitehorse, Ottawa, Fredericton and the up-coming Storytellers of Canada/Raconteurs du Canada conference in Edmonton have representatives from the Guild in attendance. Soon B.C. will benefit from Katherine Willett’s presence (this Montrealer moves there with a list of B.C. tellers in hand – ask her about dog stories!).
And so once again the first Friday in June 1996 will find us at the Atwater Library. The candles are lit, the coffee brewed, and the circle formed ready for the magic of story to begin. Come and join us – you’re welcome!