the mid-island woodworkers' guild

the mid-island woodworkers' guild

Cory de Vries writes about the current group highlighted in our featured region program: the Mid-Island Woodworkers' Guild. 


The Craft Council of BC is pleased to present the Mid-Island Woodworkers' Guild (MIWG) as part of our featured regional program, an initiative that seeks to spotlight various contemporary craft groups around the province. Guilds are defined as associations of craftspeople and merchants formed to promote the economic interests of their members and provide protection and mutual aid. As both business and social organizations, guilds were prolific in medieval times but their function has evolved over time. Today, people may join guilds to learn new skills, build community, sow into the next generation of makers of that particular craft and often to participate in using raw materials in more sustainable ways (i.e. through sharing programs).


The Guild

The MIWG is based on central Vancouver Island and was established in 2016. The group had modest beginnings and has now expanded to approximately 125 members. The Guild serves a number of functions, chiefly to bring people together who want to learn more about woodworking, and to facilitate space for experienced woodworkers to share knowledge and skills. They do this mainly through their monthly meetings that feature seminars, trainings, and presentations.

Apart from the focus on skill building, a major pull factor to membership is fellowship in this vibrant community. In alignment with their values, the Guild donates wood to woodworking programs at public schools on the island and provides bursaries for qualified woodworking students to help foster an interest in woodworking among young people. The wood they donate, and the wood most of their members use, comes through their Wood Recovery Program, an initiative that collects, harvests and mills wood from trees grown on Vancouver Island that have been cut down for various reasons; its then bought by guild members at a discounted rate.


MIWG: Woodworking + Community

In an interview conducted via email, the CCBC asked the Guild several questions on the subject of the craft of woodworking and on the benefits of being part of a guild; the number one reason cited for joining the guild was fellowship, apart from growing in the skill of the craft.[1] They wrote there is a joy in interacting with people with similar interests, from beginner to expert, who are willing to teach and learn from each other. Woodworkers, generally, they wrote, are incredibly willing to share techniques and mentor beginners. Speaking to the next generation, they wrote that woodworking is something that requires time and patience to perfect, but it’s an incredible feeling to produce a beautiful, well-crafted piece, whether functional or art, or whether through career or hobby. They also shared there is a tremendous feeling in producing an item that can be passed down to one’s decendents. Woodworking is also a great way to develop creativity, get away from electronic screens, get exercise, and become more aware of the need to protect the environment. Another reason people join the guild is to learn woodwork in order to make the exact piece of furniture or item they want. They write that all are welcome to check out a meeting and see how they might fit in.



The Craft Council of BC’s shop works to empower craftspeople in their craft and elevate the profile of contemporary craft in BC. The collection we are hosting from MIWG is an incredible assortment of handmade fine craft that highlights contemporary woodwork in BC. The in-store and online collection features 5 artists from the guild: Brian Rigby, Chris Mannall, Tom and Lynn Hedkar, Robert Jakobsen, and Lynn Gray.

Learn more about the MIWG on their website!

p.s. Brian writes that many people approach guild members at shows and galleries and say, I could never do that! Brian writes that perhaps not now, but when they come and learn, they are usually amazed at what they can do.


[1] Brian Rigby, one of the exhibiting artists at CCBC, and the current librarian of MIWG, circulated the questions among Guild members and returned them to us.

header image: "Land, Sea, Air" Charcuterie Board, Lynn Gray 

body image #1: "Emerging Bowl #28", Chris Mannall

body image #2: "Woven Wood" Charcuterie Board #3, Brian Rigby

body image #3: "Western Red Cedar Candy Dish", Tom & Lynn Hedekar


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