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The Craft Council of BC, formerly the Craftsmen’s Association of BC, was created by interested members of the Visual Arts Committee of the Community Arts Council of Vancouver. This was done in recognition of the growing craft community in British Columbia.

CCBC’s first office, Resource centre, and Exhibit space was located in downtown Vancouver, in the Dominion Building at the corner of Hastings and Cambie Street. In December 1979, CCBC moved its operations to 1411 Cartwright Street on Granville Island which was developed as a project of the federal government through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

CCBC’s Cartwright Street Gallery was originally a separate society with its own Board of Directors, staff, and programming. In 1985 CCBC moved across the street to its current premises at 1386 Cartwright Street and in May 1986, it opened Crafthouse, a gallery and shop for fine contemporary craft. In 1990, the Cartwright Street Gallery became the Canadian Craft Museum which was located at Cathedral Place, Hornby Street, Vancouver from 1992 until it closed in 2002. Some of BC’s leading craftspeople were in the collection. These are the individuals who have made an important contribution to the craft and who have worked for many years in the discipline in which they are recognized. The collection currently resides with the City of Vancouver in storage at the Museum of Vancouver.


Setting the stage:

In 1943, UBC instructors Fred Amess and B.C Binnings envisioned Vancouver as a city on the verge of greatness and anticipated an urban building boom. They created the Art-in-Living Group, setting in motion a distinctive West Coast school of architecture and design including homes, offices, furniture, draperies, floor coverings, and tableware.

At the same time, The Vancouver Junior League formed the Community Arts Council to pick up on and forward ideas generated by the Art-In-Living Group. A major exhibition was organized at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1949 consisting of full-scale models of four fully furnished rooms. The exhibition generated a great deal of discussion, illustrating a different approach to lifestyle and furnishing which opened the eyes of a wide sector of the population to new possibilities. (Drawn from Vancouver Arts and Artists 1931-1983, Post War Architecture in Vancouver by Douglas Shadbolt)

The Beginning of CABC:

The Craftsmen’s Association of BC (CABC), grew out of the Community Arts Council in the early 70’s through interested members of the Visual Arts Committee in recognition of the growing craft community in BC.

In June 1970, one of the first projects was publishing Craft Contacts which was a newsletter for craftsmen. A bi-monthly newsletter eventually became monthly and free. The first run made 150 copies. A second Craft Contacts was run in September. Craft Contacts eventually provided up-to-date information on local, provincial, and international events and updates related to crafts. (Exhibitions /Craft Fairs /Workshops /Courses /Conferences /Advocacy /Grants /Funding /Advertising /Craft highlights /CABC news surveys of craftspeople & results /Guild’s news /Tips from craftspeople) It also included Regional Representatives providing current information on craft-related news in their areas.

A Registered Society:


In 1972 a decision was made to become a formal organization and registered society under the Societies Act of BC. CABC was the first umbrella organization for the crafts in the province. CABC’s mandate was to provide information to members of the association and general public, provide a library, reading room, lounge & display area, sponsor exhibitions, and lectures, and provide and maintain files, indexes, and slide portfolios of members accessible to the public, to advance educational opportunities by providing scholarships, bursaries and other assistance (such as traveling assistance) to members; and to develop or encourage marketing opportunities.

An annual juried exhibition ‘Made by Hand’ which is of contemporary crafts made in BC, is launched at a number of venues in Vancouver by CABC as well as a co-sponsored Craft Market at Vancouver East Cultural Center.

The first Executive Meeting of the CABC was held in September 1972.

Following that, committees like the Education Committee, Exhibition Committee, Publicity Committee, and Marketing Committee were created under the new CABC Board which was formed after the First AGM held on October 25, 1972.


On June 12, 1973, we became a formal organization and a registered society under the Societies Act of BC known as the Craftsmen Association of BC (300 members) with Jean Marie Weakland as 1st CABC President. The first Executive was created in 1973-74. Our first AGM was held in October. At this time a consolidation of aims of the council like education, marketing, and communication with governments was developed. Also, the first Education Committee was set up.


The Craftsmen Association Of BC (CABC) first office and resource center was located at the Dominion Building at 207 West Hastings Street.

In that year, Canada hosted the first world craft exhibition “In Praise of Hands” in Toronto. The CABC was awarded $15,000 in grants to send craftspeople to demonstrate and exhibit at the event.

The CABC hosted a 12-week Cable 10, Vancouver TV series called Craft Contacts, the first “all craft” series in Canada, produced by Deirdre Spencer and was later appointed as the new President of the Board.


The Gallery space became a separate entity from the shop with its own set of books and guidelines. This kickstarted the  Curatorial Program, with exhibitions now presented in the new gallery.

A comprehensive Slide Directory of Crafts was in the works and open to CABC members to add their work while regional groups were established to represent members at the AGM: Vancouver Centre, East Kootenays, Terrace, Prince George, Port Alberni and the Okanagan.

Gail Rogers became the first full-time employee of the association.


The first iteration of the Made by Hand exhibition was held at the Vancouver Centennial Museum in November, showcasing the best in fine craft and was seen by 10,720 people in the first two weeks.


The CABC is accepted as a charitable organization and is granted an income tax registration number by the Federal Government Tax Department helping craftsmen across BC.

A formal request was submitted for the establishment of a visual arts community on Granville Island by CMHC’s Granville Island Project that transformed the old industrial land into the artist hub and tourist spot of the city.


The ball starts rolling with a  proposal to move the CABC to 1411 Cartwright Street on Granville Island.  Grace Gordon-Collins was hired to design the new home for the CABC. On November 20th the building at 1411 Cartwright Street is occupied by the council.

The Cartwright Street Gallery is founded by a group of interested craftspeople as a charitable non-profit association separate from the CABC with provisions in the by-laws for the Board of Trustees to include two members appointed by the CABC on an annual basis.


The Gallery is officially opened on February 20th by the Honourable Evan Wolfe, Minister of Provincial Secretary and Government Services for the Province of BC.


The organization changed its name from the Craftsmen Association of BC to the Crafts Association of BC with approval by the government.

The Cartwright Gallery becomes solely a gallery space, as the CABC planned to open a retail gallery space, conference room, resource center and offices, it was decided to move to 1386 Cartwright which was offered by the Granville Island Trust.


The CABC began renovations and moved across the street to its current premises at 1386 Cartwright Street. Wolfgang Gerson was hired as the architect in charge of design. The iconic Bill Reid Bear Head door handle is donated by his wife, Martine de Widerspach-Thor. A new name is developed for the new gallery and shop for contemporary craft: Crafthouse.

The goal of the CABC retail store is to showcase BC and Canadian crafts in Vancouver with a mini-gallery devoted solely to BC crafts with month-long shows of individual craftspeople’s work, group or theme shows.


Crafthouse,  a gallery and shop for fine contemporary craft is officially opened in May at 1386 Cartwright St Granville Island.

Jo Darts became the first manager overseeing staff and sales at the Crafthouse retail shop.


The CABC Craft Resource Center opens with 5 times its former space, with books, periodicals, artist portfolios and slide sets available to the public on a reference basis.


The Cartwright Street Gallery turns into the Canadian Craft Museum located at Cathedral Place and Hornby Street in downtown Vancouver showcasing contemporary craft by artists across BC.

Gail Rogers said farewell to the CABC after a long history as the Executive Director since 1973. Susan Jackson takes over as the new Executive Director.


The CABC received a Federal Government Challenge Grant to hire a summer student for the first time starting a long line of students supporting and advocating for the craft community.


The CABC celebrates its 25th Anniversary with a small exhibition in Crafthouse and with a larger exhibition planned for 1998.

The CABC goes online with its first website located at http://www.lionsgate.com/webtown/cabc.


The Canadian Craft Museum Made by HAND Silver Edition 1998 exhibition opened on June 12, celebrating 25 years to the day since the CABC was incorporated under the Societies Act in 1973.

The Provincial Government visits the Crafthouse to purchase gifts for Ministers, bringing awareness to craft production in BC.


The final Made by HAND exhibition of contemporary crafts was held at the Canadian Craft Museum.

The Early 2000’s:

The CABC launched a new website: cabc.net, that generated 12,500 hits in the first year.

The Canadian Craft Museum closed its doors at Cathedral Place.

Wholesale marketing and a new website was introduced to promote member’s work to a wider platform that had not yet been reached.

The CABC celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2003 and the 20th anniversary of Crafthouse in 2006.

CTV filmed Crafthouse as a backdrop for public service announcements representing Vancouver. Many craftspeople were interviewed who were friends or members of the council.

The organization partnered with the Canadian Crafts Federation to produce the largest ever craft festival throughout Canada for Craft Year 2007.

The CABC name was officially changed to CCBC, the Craft Council of BC.

Crafthouse YVR retail store opened its doors in September 2009.

2009 marks the final year of the printed edition of Craft Contacts.


The CCBC’s 40th Anniversary with exhibits that were centered on craft that invested 10,000 hours.

The first Earring Show exhibition in winter, showcasing the diversity of jeweler work in BC later expanding globally.


Jo Darts, Crafthouse manager, retired after 21 years at the CCBC.


Fundraising began for the Crafthouse renovations. The building had not been updated since the move in 1986.

The Craft Cart was introduced. A retail cart selling small and affordable craft pieces, stationed in downtown.

New fundraiser Craft Year, Craft Beer. The event consisted of samples of craft beers from 16 local breweries coupled with a silent auction of hand-crafted beer-related items by local artists.


New initiatives to upkeep the CCBC archive started by summer intern students. The initiative marks the beginning of the preservation and organization of the CCBC since its genesis in 1973.


A new website, ponder craft & design,  was launched as an educational resource about craft for the public. It provided information about the materials and techniques used in craft and what a consumer should look for in their crafted products.


The  BC Ceramics Marks Registry website was created in collaboration with the CCBC archives and the Window Exhibition Program was introduced for artists to engage in discourse on the role of craft.

A new online gallery in partnership with Google Arts & Culture. The gallery included a survey of past exhibitions that were on view at the CCBC Shop & Gallery.


The beginning of Makers Monthly newsletter exclusively for CCBC members and the relaunch of Craft Contacts newsletter since its last edition in 2009. Once a printed newsletter, it was reproduced as an e-newsletter.

The Digital Craft Archive (DCA) initiative was started by three summer interns: Jane, Sarah and Tatianna. 


The council celebrates the  10th anniversary of the Earring Show.



To help us continue to grow and serve the craftspeople of BC: