In September of 1989, Governor General Award winning author and Eden Mills resident Leon Rooke invited friends Michael Ondaatje, Rohinton Mistry, Linda Spalding and Jane Urquhart to read from the steps of the historic Eden Mills general store. Hundreds of people showed up and the Eden Mills Writers' Festival was born! Today, the Eden Mills Writers' Festival has grown into a nationally respected literary festival, with up to 1,800 visitors joining hundreds of volunteers from Eden Mills, Guelph and area on a Sunday in September.
Throughout the village, six open air reading sites are set up for Adult, Young Adult and Children's author readings. These sites include: a 19th century fieldstone Mill, an 150-year-old fieldstone chapel, a backyard with the Eramosa River as a backdrop, and a field showcasing a local artist's sculptures. Authors read in hour-long sets of 3 or 4.
JENNY'S PLACE is founding EMWF Board member Jenny Kitson's home, also known as action central for the Sunday festival and houses the Authors' Green Room, hosts children's presenters in the backyard and on the front lawn. The Bookshelf sets up a booth where folks can buy our authors books. Book signing tables are next door.
Author readings at the EMWF are by invitation and we love promoting local writers! This year, we have Guelphites Thomas King, Dr. Nicholas Ruddock, Jo Ellen Bogart, Ben Caesar and Zachary Collins, as well as Janet Wilson (Eden Mills) and Carrie Snyder (Kitchener/Waterloo). Local emcees include Guelph residents Craig Norris, James Gordon and Susan Ratcliffe; Hillside Executive Director Marie Zimmerman; and Guelph Library's Anne McKay.
The 26th EMWF Sunday Authors Festival takes place on September 14th, 2014, and will host over 50 Canadian authors from near and (very) far: current Booker winner, Eleanor Catton will be flying in from New Zealand. Governor General award winner Kate Pullinger will be arriving from her current home in London (England). Plus, writers from Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and B.C. will all be converging on Eden Mills and Guelph starting on Thursday, Sept. 11th through Monday, Sept. 15th.
Free shuttle buses will leave from the Sleeman Centre and the University of Guelph's University Centre to Eden Mills (and return) roughly every hour. Check the Festival website at www.edenmillswritersfestival.ca for the all of the details.
We had an opportunity to ask a few questions of Brian Garner, one of our dedicated Walking Tour Guides.
Tell us a little about yourself and your many involvements in the Guelph Community.
I take an active part wherever I have lived. I moved to Guelph to take a position as Director of Music at a local Church. All has developed from there. I now volunteer with GAC and the Guelph Kiwanis Music Festival where I am involved in the organizing committee, fundraising and session coordination. I am on the Steering Committee for Spark of Brilliance and have been a member of the Museum; one membership I must renew!
You've been a fantastic Guelph Arts Council Walking Tour Guide now for over 4 years. What brought you to volunteering with GAC?
When moving to a new area, I like to know it well. I read about the walking tours and started every Sunday afternoon to attend these tours. Eventually, one of the guides after asking me something about a location said, "Why don't you become a guide?" That is how it all started.
What do you like most about being a Historical Walking Tour guide?
There are two things that I love about being a guide, the first is being able to show significant parts of this beautiful city's architecture and history to others and secondly, to be able to point out items to people who have lived here all their lives, but have never known of such areas and items. Perhaps they have driven by them daily; however, to see many one has to park the car; get out and walk!
Could you tell me about 2NS4U Music Therapy?
After returning home to Canada from Texas where I had been Music Therapy Coordinator for a state residential facility, I set up my own practice through which I am able to offer services to groups and individuals. Through music and its various elements, I am able to assist people with challenges; developmental, physical, mental and particularly with geriatric issues.
Guelph Historical Walking Tours run from April to October and you can find out the details at http://guelpharts.ca/gac-programming#walkingtours.
Sonya Poweska, Executive Director of Guelph Arts Council, has returned from maternity leave. After a year away, Sonya is eager to get back to work, "I'm excited for all the new changes; the new website is finally up in action and looks great! I'm also really excited to work with the new staff and to talk with our members again, and the upcoming fundraising initiative."
With over 15 years of experience working in the arts, Sonya Poweska has a passion for promoting and developing the cultural sector both locally and nationally. Over the years, Poweska has worked as a curator, an events and program manager, a fundraiser, and as an executive director. Her work has taken her across Ontario including to Ottawa, Kingston, London, Mississauga, and Guelph. Sonya came to Guelph Arts Council in January of 2012 after working for the Mississauga Arts Council.
Throughout her career, Poweska has sought to deepen public understanding of the importance of the arts as both cultural and economic areas of development. This continues to be the focus of her work as an artist, curator, and arts administrator. "My favourite part about being an Executive Director is working with the community and advocating for the arts; making people realize culture is important to community vitality, economic development and tourism," states Poweska.
This September we also say goodbye to our wonderful summer student, Noelle Lalonde. Noelle was hired in June through the Canada Summer Jobs program and has been busy this summer working as our Communications Coordinator. As the Communications Coordinator, Noelle has been managing our Twitter and Facebook pages and maintaining guelpharts.ca. She has also been interviewing GAC members and volunteers for our biweekly Arts Blasts, as well as writing and publishing the articles. Noelle is headed back to school in Toronto this fall, where she studies Drawing and Painting at OCAD University. We wish you all the best with your studies!