Sunday, January 11, 2015

Burr House Spinners and Weavers Guild

Inkle loom demonstration at Burr House
In my quest to re-invent myself this year, I came across the Burr House Spinners and Weavers Guild. They are a multi-aged, multicultural group of men and women who enjoy, appreciate and create works of fibre art and functionality. They share their skills and learn from other members of the Guild, as well as, have guest teachers from time to time. Since I've been learning how to weave on an inkle loom, this seemed like a group where I could fit in.

View from the back parking lot of Burr House
Meetings take place on the third Wednesday of each month at the Burr House Craft Gallery and Tea Room not too far from where I live. They also have drop-in nights where members and non-members can get together for fellowship, conversation and crafting. I went to one such gathering this week and had a very pleasant time. About half a dozen women showed up, most were knitting, while I was setting up my newest weaving project. I'll be going back, and likely signing up as a member of the Guild at the January meeting.

The history of the Burr house is quite interesting. It was built in 1820 by Rowland Burr, a local carpenter and millwright. The original four-room stuccoed Ontario cottage was plank-on-plank construction. He later added a blacksmith's shop. In 1836, the house was sold to Samuel Sanderson and then to Thomas Boothby in 1844. Sanderson and Boothby both ran blacksmith businesses on the property. In 1851, Boothby added three brick rooms, including a large kitchen with cooking fireplace and bake oven.

Photo from Wood Family Archive
In 1872, the Boothbys sold the house, which was passed through a number of owners until George Wood bought it and lived there from 1897 until the late 1960's.  At that time, Cadillac Baif bought the land for a subdivision. In 1973 the newly formed Richmond Hill Historical Society urged the Town to acquire and preserve the Burr House. It was renovated by the Historical Society, and remains on the original site to this day.

Hill Potter's Guild Gallery
For several years, the Historical Society operated the house as a working craft house for the demonstration and teaching of handcrafts and pioneer household activities. The building also served as a local museum and later as a craft and gift shop. During this time, Burr House became the home of the Hill Potters' Guild and the Richmond Hill Spinners and Weavers Guild, which was made up of students of Burr House Craft classes.

In 1984, the Richmond Hill Spinners & Weavers, the Hill Potters' Guild, and the Historical society formed a partnership and jointly took over the operation of the Burr House. In 1990, the Keffer Small House, a summer kitchen/woodshed was added on to provide a new entrance for it's current use as the Burr House Craft Gallery and Tea Room. The gallery now showcases fine arts and crafts by local artists and is jointly operated by volunteers from the two guilds.

View of the Tea Room


  1. this is amazing-I live so rural that when I searched out weaving guilds they are just too far away over an hour's drive-I know it would be inspiring for me though. on my list of things to learn-is spinning I have put this off way too long-lol enjoy!

    1. I plan to take full advantage of a weaving guild so close to home. Sorry to hear that you were not as lucky finding one in your area.

  2. So nice to have found one so close! I'd love to see some spinning, I still remember my great-grandmother (not really mine, we called her that, though) spinning wool in the summer. I loved watching her - and now I wish I would have asked her to teach me :) Enjoy the guild - it's lovely to get together with like-minded artistic people!