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International Lace Camp - A History
Compiled by Lee Perkins
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1994 saw the birth of one person's dream. A gathering to enable people to enjoy the beauty and peace of Manitoulin Island and at the same time pursue their love of lace and lacemaking.

The dreamer was Tini Pel. Tini as a young girl n Dordecht, Holland would see the lacemakers sitting in their doorways when on her way home from school. She became fascinated by the beauty produced by the "sticks & tread" and the wonderful sound of the clicking of those "sticks". There was no opportunity to try it out as these ladies were working to earn a living. At home Tini tried to minic the action but was unsuccessful and had to reluctantly let it drop.

Year later on a visit to Canada from Holland, Tini's mother brought with her a lace textbok and some bobbins. With several starts and a lot of difficulty Tini succeeded in producing something that looked like lace! While on a visit to Holland she went to a Russian Lace Exhibit and there Tini heard of a lace group in Ottawa. Back in Canada Tini contacted the Ottawa group and they in turn put her in touch with Dora Hocken in Sault Ste. Marie who invited Tini to the Sault to one of their lace meetings.
In 1991 on a trip to Europe, Tini visited the Kant School of lace in Brugge, Belgium where lacemakers from all over the world are able to attend for a small annual fee. There is always a teacher on hand to help anyone in difficulty. Thus was born the idea of doing something similar in Canada. Because of the enormous distances between communities in Canada an all year school is not practical but the idea of gathering on an annual basis was a possibility. Discussion of this idea with the group in the Sault was met with enthusiasm but it would be necessary to form lace group on Manitoulin. To that end Dora Hocken came over from the Sault and together with Tini demonstrated the art of lacemaking in the Gore Bay arena.
Ina Fedsin and Donna Scheib became interested and thus began a local group later swelled by the addition of Wanda Murdock. The Ottawa lace group sent a course on Beginner's Torchon, duly completed by the group and they have not looked back. During gatherings of the Manitoulin group Tini talked of her idea of a get together of lacemakers for a week. But how and where to hold such a gathering? With the support of her group and stalwart backing of Tini's husband, the redoubtable Henk, Tini presented her idea to Gore Bay Council. They welcomed the proposal and provided everything was done on volunteer basis, offered the Red Roof Pavilion by the dock as a venue for a week. Tini then approached the local Gore Bay merchant for help and they generously donated items for "goody bags"

Tini had become acquainted with Joan Wilson, a lacemaker and summer resident of Manitoulin Island in those days. Joan had attended lace events in the USA and well knew that no gathering of lacemakers is completed without the opportunity to do a little "lace equipment" shopping as it is rather specialized. Joan had contacts with US lace suppliers and offered to get a store set up for the meeting. This she did with assistance from Alison Addicks of "The Lacemaker" and Grechan Algiers of "Beggars Lace" These wonderful people sent goods on consignment. In addition Joan contacted Marion Perry of "Books for You" - who sent along two boxes of lace technique books on the same basis. Henk Pel did a wonderful job of making tables, bobbins and other lacemaking gadgets dear to all our heats

Every attempt was make to keep the cost of attending as low as possible and thus came into being the name "Lace Camp". There is no formal paid tution, the idea of the camp is ot make lace and share our knowledge with each other. We do have workshops but these too are done on a volunteer basis. As the whole gathering was being managed on a volunteer bases there was free advertising in magazines.

1994 saw the culmination of all this hard preparatory work with the first "Lace Camp" attended by eleven lacemakers held in the Red Roof Pavilion.

In 1995 this was changed to the Community Hall. The hall was also the home to the local summer theatre group and their needs expanded and so in 1996 "Lace Camp" moved to the Legion Hall, a very comfortable space with good light. We have been fortunate enough to enjoy this space to the present time with a slight hiccup in 2001 due to a double booking error when we returned to the Red Roof Pavilion.

There were participants from Holland and USA in 1997 and thus a reworking of our title and "Lace Camp" became "International Lace Camp"

The Gore Bay community has been most supportive, especially the Museum. In the third and fourth years Nicole Weppler arranged special displays of lace and lace equipments during the week of lace camp. This was not easy as the items for display had to be forwarded prior to the meeting and so it mostly ended up with items from Tini and Ina only. Nicole has most generously and graciously hosted the lace camp participants and spouses to a wonderful tea or luncheon annually. The mayor always visits the meeting. Both local newspapers visit and give us a write up.
1998 saw the milestone of the 5th Annual International Lace Camp and to commemorate this occasion participants contributed small individual pieces of lace which were made into a wall plaque and presented to the mayor for hanging in the council offices. The year also saw the Gore Bay Girl Guides under the direction and tuition of Tini perform a Lace Dance before an appreciative audience in the Marina Park in bright sunshine.
The number of participants now runs between 30-40 each year. But "Lace Camp" just does not happen. It happens because of the hard work and dedication of the Manitoulin Lace Group. It happens because of the co-operation of all the participants. Because of "Lace Camp" we all have had the opportunity to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of Manitoulin. To be introduced to the culture of the First Nation communities on the island and above all to meet and enjoy the friendship of other lace makers and their families.