Interesting History of our Guild

Very Early Days….

In September of 1986 the North Shore Continuing Education Department offered two quilting classes. The classes were well received, with good results and ten quilters from within the group decided to meet informally in the following spring, to continue their quilting experience. Elizabeth Cooke who worked for the school board, made arrangements for the group to meet in the library of Westview School. I was invited as a guest and attended a couple of meetings. Before long the group considered forming a guild and discussions took place on the challenges of this initiative including operational rules and selecting a name. I remember one name that was temporarily a front runner “STITCH AND BITCH” but the group was inspired by a sunny evening when the Lion’s Gate bridge could be viewed from the library window: thankfully deciding it would be a more dignified title. Other important considerations were who would bring the cookies to the next meeting and mandatory attendance requirements if you wished to remain in the guild!

During the spring of 1987, quilting was gaining popularity locally, through courses at fabric shops as well as Continuing Education. The graduates of these classes wished to continue and grow their quilting experience and significant interest developed in joining the Lions Gate group. The impact of quilting was recognized when the cover of the Joy of Learning Magazine published by Continuing Education, featured a picture of the group of ten, wrapped in quilts produced from their first class. A picture of that magazine cover is on the table at the rear of the room.

The Guild was formally registered guild numbers swelled as quilters completed their initial quilting experiences. Before long a greater variety of quilting related classes was added and the Guild became active in providing workshops, lead by instructors from Canada and the US who were recognized as experts in the world of quilting. Within 18 months the guild had grown from 10 to over 200 members and further growth of an additional 100 in the following year.

The quality of these educational programs improved the skills and knowledge of guild members and produced a level of confidence that the Guild was now mature enough share their quilts with the community. In May 1990, the Guild presented a three day quilt show featuring 150 quilts, At the suggestion of Marie Querns the show was titled “An Album of Quilts”. Producing a quilt show presented many challenges as few members had any experience with such an undertaking. The guild executive carefully examined the risks and rewards in producing a show. At many meetings the challenging elements of such a production were examined, the costs, how to hang a show, the venue, the degree of participation and of course a fear that attendance might be embarrassingly low. To the delight of the executive the show was attended by 1500 visitors and as a bonus provided a substantial profit to be used to subsidize workshops, provide reference materials to schools and public libraries and fund a local initiative entitled the Community Quilts Program. The quilt show has been presented semi annually since its inception.

Dolores Bell

And the Journey Continues….

LIONS GATE QUILTERS GUILD NEWSLETTER:January 22, 1992 (Volume 3, Number 3)


To start the new, I would like to tell our members about the old, namely how the Lions Gate Quilters’ Guild began.

In the fall of 1985 I started quilting classes with Dolores Bell and June Duckenfield as my teachers. It was in that sampler class that I met Debbie Knowles and Brenda Sikich. One term of classes turned into four and other new friendships began. Rose Bates, Kerry Karram and Karin Walkley were also in those early classes.

In the last class of that fourth term we had our usual soiree. We agreed that we were almost on overload with new projects, but we didn’t want to part company. We decided to meet monthly and asked Dolores and June to join us. They agreed, as long as they could come as friends, not as teachers. After careful consideration, of less than a second – they were in.

I look after the facility rentals for the North Vancouver School Board and I offered to arrange a room for us to meet in.

January 29, 1987, was our first meeting at Lonsdale Elementary’s Library and Debbie took hold of the reins as President and asked if I would help as treasurer. (Big Surprise to me, my specialty is spending money, not saving it.) Our overhead for the first six months rent was $46.00

Debbie faithfully kept track of attendance and collected the dues for our membership of 18 and the waiting list that kept growing. At first we decided on baseball rules – 3 strikes and you’re out, or miss 3 consecutive meetings and move over for someone with more time or enthusiasm. Perhaps it was harsh, but at that point we weren’t ready to expand. There was a suggestion that a note from your husband explaining your absence may clear the slate, but it was the ‘80’s and that idea got what it deserved – LAUGHTER!!

The meetings were small enough that we alternated bringing tea, coffee, and goodies to the meetings. In the summer when schools were closed we held the meeting in each other’s homes.

For the first fourteen months we were known as the ‘North Vancouver Quilters’. At one of the meetings in the spring of 1988 it was unseasonably warm and someone opened the library door. It was then that we noticed the exceptional view of the Lions. Out of the many suggestions for a new name, the ‘Lions Gate Quilters’ was not only appropriate, but the most popular; a great name to put on our shingle.

Lonsdale Elementary housed the meetings until June 1988. The membership doors were opened in September 1988 and Highlands United Church was our new home and meeting place.

Elizabeth Cook


Year                        President                                       Location

1987                     DEBBIE KNOWLES         Lonsdale Elementary School

1988/89                DEBBIE KNOWLES        Highlands United Church

1990                     KARIN WALKLEY           Delbrook Centre

1991                     VALERIE JEFFREY          Delbrook Centre

1992                    GAIL HUNT                       Leo Marshall Centre (FIRST QUILT SHOW)

1993                    ANNETTE BLAIR           North Shore Winter Club June/94 ( 2nd Quilt Show)

1995                    MAVIS WALKLEY             Jaycee House (near Capilano University)

1997                     SHIRLEY MORTELL        Jaycee House

1999                     SHIRLEY CORRIS             Jaycee House/International Plaza/NS Winter Club

2001                     MILLIE CUMMINGS        North Shore Winter Club

2003                     PAT GORMELY                 NS Winter Club/ Squamish Nation Rec. Centre

2005                     DIANNE RITTER              Squamish Nation Recreation Centre

2007                     ROSALIND KNIGHT        St. Andrews & St. Stephens Church

2009                     CAROL PIERCY                 St. Andrews & St. Stephens Church

2011                     BETTY CLARKE                 St. Andrews & St. Stephens Church

2013                     BETTY CLARKE                 St. Andrews & St. Stephens Church

2015                     BENA LUXTON                  St. Andrews & St. Stephens Church

2017                     KATHRYN GILLIS/KAREN COOKE   St. Andrews & St. Stephens Church

Start of Community Quits

In the fall of 1992 a few of the guild members decided to pool their scrapes and make nine patch blocks. The challenge came when they combined these blocks and tried to make attractive lap quilts. It was decided to open the challenge to the whole guild membership. The Lucas Centre was booked and 35 quilts were made and donated to the women and children affiliated with Emily Murphy House (now Sage House).

The event was such a success that plans were made to have a second go at it in April of 1993. Again nine patch was the chosen block, using everyone’s scrapes. It was not easy to make co-ordinated tops, but what we lacked in design and colour co-ordination we made up in quantity. Emily Murphy and some care facilities were recipients of our efforts.

It was decided that Community Quilts should become an annual event for the Guild. Members were encouraged to donate the needed materials and the guild executive provided funds to purchase some batting.

The Project was put on a firm financial footing when the executive decided to allocate funds from the proceeds of the Quilt Show in the spring of 1996 to purchase fabric and batting to supplement that given by members.

Community Quilts is still an annual guild event thanks to some members who have continued to give leadership and much time and energy to the project. Hundreds of quilts have been given to organizations and individuals in our community.

Doree Piercy

***Thanks to Betty Clarke for submitting the interesting articles with  the support of many other….***