An Idea was Born

In early 1995, some members of the Woodturners Guild of Ontario (WGO) of Scarborough, residing in the Peterborough area, casually discussed the possibility of the formation of a new woodturners guild in the Kawarthas.

With Vince Way Nee’s prompting, it was decided to give the matter serious consideration and it was with his and Martin Groening’s initiative that a group gathered to look into the matter.

When he had lived in Scarborough, Martin had been a founding member of the Woodturners Guild of Ontario and served on its Executive in a number of roles since 1989. In addition, Martin was a member of the Canadian Woodturners Association from 1992 thorough 2000 and served on its Executive for several years.

It followed that Martin’s background experience would be invaluable in the establishment of a new Guild in Peterborough.  Towards that end he approached Mark Salusbury, who was then President of the Woodturners Guild of Ontario, concerning adopting the WGO format for any new club that might be formed since it had proved a proven formula for success.

The Original Eight

Jack Close, Martin Groneng, Ken Hutchinson, John Madill, David Prescott, Bill Usher, Vincent Way Nee, and Joe Werner, all members of the WGO, met in Joe’s home to explore the feasibility of starting a club or guild of wood turners in Peterborough.  If it was to proceed, premises were a prerequisite.  We believe this meeting took place in January of 1995.

At that time it was originally suggested by Ken Hutchison that the name of the new Guild be the “Peterborough Woodturners Guild” but the group, on second thought, adopted the Kawartha Woodturners Guild name because it wanted to attract members from a wider geographical area.

The original club logo was a result of a club competition, which was won by Ken Hutchinson (a founding member) for a design he and his daughter created.

From Left to Right: Joe, Bill, Martin, Vince, Dave, John.

Missing: Jack and Ken.


Left to Right: David, Jack, Joe, John, Bill, Vince, Martin

Inset:  Ken

Constitution and By-laws

The origin of the “first” Constitution and By-laws adopted by many woodturning clubs founded in the 1980s and ‘90s, the KWG among them, is a little vague. What is certain is they are all rooted in Ottawa with the formation of the “Woodturners Association of Eastern Ontario” (WAEO) which had its inaugural meeting on June 12th, 1987 on the initiative of Derek Jones, who was then an instructor at Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology.  The WAEO created its Constitution and Bylaws by researching government archives and adopting a form they felt was appropriate. All meetings were run in accordance with “Roberts Rules of Order”, as called for in their Constitution and By-laws.

In 1988, when the WAEO encouraged the founding of the Woodturners Guild of Ontario in Toronto, they offered their Constitution and By-laws to them to adopt, suitably amended, as their own. The WGO in turn offered their Constitution and By-laws to the Kawartha Woodturners Guild as a model to adapt as they saw fit.

WGO President Mark Salusbury, his father-in-law Gord Howarth, and Ken Hutchinson adapted the WGO Constitution and By-laws to suit the name and needs of the newly formed Kawartha Woodturners Guild. (Gord had helped tailor the original WAEO Constitution and By-laws for the WGO.) Years later, now living in the Peterborough area and a member of the fledgling KWG, he was a natural to help Ken Hutchinson do the same for the KWG.

The Guild continues to review, and amend as appropriate, its Constitution and By-laws on a regular basis to suit the Guild’s mandate, goals, needs, aspirations and the demographics of the Guild as it has evolved and is evolving.

As an unrelated but historical aside to the KWG story, the WAEO evolved to become the Ottawa based ‘Canadian Woodturners Association’ which floundered due to too few being expected to do too much for too many. In 1991 the WGO executive was begged to take over the CWA. WGO President, Mark Salusbury and Treasurer Michael Bonnycastle drove to Ottawa in December of that year to gather what was left of the CWA’s records, membership list and remaining assets from the last CWA member, Derek Jones, and bring them to Toronto. In January of 1992, the WGO Executive, reformed the CWA and  ran it as a separate entity from the WGO from 1992 through 2000 when, unable to compete with the attraction of the American Association of Woodturners, it was concluded the CWA was unsustainable and its then Executive surrendered the Association’s Federal Charter.

This brief chapter is written so you will have some idea of the relationship that the KWG has, along with many of the woodturners’ guilds in Ontario, born from the WAEO and WGO.

St Peter’s Secondary School

It is believed that Joe Werner, who may have been a carpenter working for the Peterborough Board of Education suggested we approach St. Peter’s Secondary School, but keeping in mind there were other schools in Peterborough which could be approached if we were unsuccessful at St. Peter’s. St. Peter’s was considered to be the best, if not ideal  site for several reasons – its location, it was a new building, and it had a well equipped, spacious shop with several lathes. It is believed Joe Werner, and perhaps Martin Groneng and Ken Hutchinson, made the initial contact with the school, which was very favorably received. We believe all negotiations were with the School and shop teacher directly and the Board was not involved except perhaps to give advice to the school as to what they would require from the Guild, i.e. agreement, insurance etc.
We believe St.Peter’s has been good for the Guild and that the Guild has been good for St.Peter’s.

The First Club Meeting

It is believed the Guild’s first meeting at the school was on February 7, 1995; if memory serves, it had 14 attendees. By the end of its inaugural season (June), it is believed the Guild had 37 members. Its method of advertising was word of mouth and public service announcements (PSA’s) in the local newspapers. Early growth certainly proved the need for such an organization in the Kawartha area

Today the Guild’s membership averages about 100 members and this number has been maintained for about 8 years.

Mission Statement

The original mission statement read:

“A ‘not-for-profit’ organization dedicated to education and the advancement of woodturning.”

In 2011, this was changed to read:

“Dedicated to the teaching, advancement and enjoyment of Woodturning.”.

School Demonstrations

The Guild has always considered one of its prime mandates to be the teaching and promotion of woodturning to the widest possible audience. What better place to start than the School whose premises we used and enjoyed. To that end, the Guild wanted to be seen as supporters of St. Peter’s and part of their family; perhaps a little selfishly.
We believe the first school demonstrations took place sometime during David Prescott’s term as President. He organized and led the first few, assisted by Martin Groneng, Joe Werner, and John Madill with all the other original eight participating from time to time. These demos were extremely well received by both the students participating and the school’s faculty. The two teachers, Bernie O’Brien and Ron Dello, (who subsequently transferred and took the program to Holy Cross) were ecstatic and these demonstrations have been a fixture and expectation ever since.

School demonstrations have expanded from St.Peter’s and Holy Cross, the original two Peterborough schools, to include many more from the surrounding area – Lindsay and Bowmanville, among others..

Following receipt of a Trillium grant, the manner in which demonstrations were presented changed from simply a show and tell to one-on-one hands-on instructional demonstration using up to 10 or more lathes which we transported to the schools, along with many Guild members who volunteer their time to do the teaching.

It has been our practice to invite the St. Peter’s wood shop teacher(s) to attend guild meetings without charge as a goodwill gesture and to help them improve their own turning skills.

Hands-on Classes

It is believed hands-on classes began around 1997 – 1998 where up to four new or inexperienced members of the Guild could attend at 5:00 pm on the regular meeting night over a three month period to receive one on one instructional  hands-on training to help them learn proper tool technique.  Over a three month period the participants would turn three separate projects – spindle turning (a dibber or tool handle), face plate work (a small bowl) and lastly, a lidded box

As the guild grew, so did the need to offer more members the opportunity to access this program. The club began to offer this program twice yearly and also ran it on a separate evening altogether from the regular club meetings.

Again as a result of the Trillium grant, more lathes were purchased and the number of members taking the classes at any one time was increased slightly.

Hosting the hands on, on a separate evening also allowed the club to offer a skills night where members could attend and receive assistance with a project they were working on, or have use of the Guild’s assets to complete a project they were unable to attempt in their home.

It should be noted these classes and skills nights are taught or coached by the more experienced Guild members who willingly dedicate many volunteer hours to these projects.

Club Dues

At the outset, dues were established at $25.00 with a one time initiation fee of $15.00. A special family rate also applied for two members attending and living in the same household.

Annual membership dues were adjusted to $50.00 in the 2004/5 fiscal period but with no change in the initiation fee of $15.00. The increase was necessary because of rising liability insurance costs.

American Association of Woodturners (AAW)

Although a number of individual Guild members were members of the AAW in their own right and regularly attended the annual symposia put on by that organization, it was decided Kawartha Woodturners Guild would become a sanctioned chapter. In 2002 the KWG became the 180th Chapter, joining Guilds and Clubs from around the world as Chapters of the AAW.

Incorporation as a Not for Profit Organization

In the 2004/5 the Kawartha Woodturners Guild became an Ontario incorporated ‘not for profit’ organization.

Newsletter and Website

The club introduced a newsletter in August, 2002. This ran successfully until 2008 when it was discontinued with the advent of our revised and up-dated website. The website was  created in the fiscal 2002/3 period. (www.kawarthawoodturners.com)

Member Name Tags

In September 2001 Art Deboo introduced the first laser engraved round disc name tags for the Guild’s members The discs are individually turned and laser engraved .

Treadle Lathe

The Guild undertook to build a treadle lathe in 2005. It was built from drawings/plans provided by Cy Rich. Along with Cy, Gary McCoy, Frank Didomizio, Bernie Buckley, Art Deboo, John Irvine, Joe Werner, and Hayward MacDonald were all involved in the turning, and assembly of the parts into this unique piece of equipment. The treadle lathe was used for the first time during the Peterborough Lift Lock’s 100 year Celebration Weekend. It was a big hit with our members and the general public attending the celebrations. It has also been used at other events and places where it has always been a popular item.

Community Activities

The Guild has always been generous of its time and participation in support of many community events.

The Guild became a participating member of Festival of Trees for the first time in 1999 when it decorated a 7’ tree with close to 200 turned ornaments. Support for this event has continued each year since then with the average number of ornaments on the tree now usually over 200. It has always been one of the most popular trees in the Festival and on the day it is decorated the other participants always make it a point to see what our Guild has come up with. For many years Joe Werner has made and donated the tree topper. The variety of ornaments is always outstanding and one year it was noted there were over 60 different woods and other materials used in the ornaments and more than 50 members had contributed.

The Guild also participated in the Autumn Treasurers Craft Show, Kinsmen’s Riverside Craft Show, Peterborough Lift Locks Centennial Celebration, Peterborough Library display, Lang Pioneer Village, Art Gallery/Dragon Boat races and the Peterborough Canoe Museum Craft Show.

The KWG also participated in the Home Workshop Show in Mississauga for four years and won the top prize of $500.00 for most entries each year. Many Guild members won top prizes as winners of their categories in the annual competitions of this show.


In 2006, the Guild received a grant of $1,000.00 from the AAW to assist with the purchase of a new lathe.

In 2007, the Guild applied for, and received, a grant from the Trillium Foundation for
$26,300.00 to assist with the purchase of machinery, tools and equipment,  and audio visual equipment.

International and Other Woodturners – Visitors

Since its inception the Guild has invited well known and respected woodturners, carvers, cabinet-makers, suppliers and others to demonstrate their skills and techniques to its members. Because some other small Guilds are not able to bring in “big” names, our Guild has always made it a practice to invite their members to share such opportunities with us. The following is a list of some of the renowned woodturners, and others, we have been fortunate to have shared their knowledge and skills with us:

Jason Marlow – UK
Jack DeVos – Australia
Dan Braniff – Ontario
Art Liestman –  British Columbia
Eli Avisera – Israel
Ernie Newman – New Zealand
Chris Stott –  UK
Jimmy Clewes – UK
Marilyn Campbell – Ontario
Andre Martel – Quebec
Bihn Pho – USA
Jim Lorriman – Ontario
Nick Agar – UK
Malcolm Zander – Ontario
Al Stirt – USA
Paul Ross –  Ontario
Dave Fleming – Ontario
Michael Fortune – Ontario
Mark Salusbury* –  Ontario
Dieter Lotz (carver) – Ontario
Michael Bonnycastle* – Ontario
Rollie Anderson* – Ontario
Stephen Zwerling – Nova Scotia
Matthew Calder – UK
Maurice Gamblin – New Brunswick
Bruce Campbell – BC
Keith Rowley – UK
David Springett – UK
Dave Simmons* – Ontario
Fred Klapp* – Ontario
Bob Rollings* – Ontario
Rick Biggs* – Ontario
Murray McLeod* – Ontario Murray Webber* – Ontario
Doug Newlove* – Ontario
Leon Michael* – Ontario
Vince Lambert* – Ontario
Steve and Sharon Mushinski* -Ontario
Norm Brunton* – Ontario
Robin Bryant* – Ontario
Don McNiven* – Ontario
Sorby Tools – UK
Mel Hordik – Ontario

*- denotes Member – Woodturners Guild of Ontario.

History of This Writing

This assemblage of information was initiated by Art DeBoo and gathered through official documents and with the help of founding and other members’ recollections.
It is believed this document is an accurate account of the Kawartha Woodturners Guild history.

Appended is a list of the founding members and a chronology of the Officers and Directors since inception.

August, 2011


1995 – 1997
On Feb 14 1995 a steering committee consisting of Martin Groneng (Chairman), John Madill, Ken Hutchinson, David Prescott  and Bill Usher was created to establish and guide the Guild until June when the first elections would take place..
At that time the following Officers and Directors were elected or acclaimed.

President Martin Groneng, Vice-President David Prescott, Treasurer John Van Loon, Secretary John Madill, Director-at-large Ken Hutchinson

1997 – 1999 
President David Prescott, Past President Martin Groneng,
Vice- President Joe Werner, Secretary John Madill, Treasurer Jack Close

1999 – 2001 
President Martin Groneng, Past President David Prescott, Treasurer Jack Close, 1st Vice-President Frank Didomizio., 2nd Vice-President Denis LaLonde, Secretary Rob Mathers,

2001 – 2003 
Pres. Frank Didomizio. Past President, Martin Groneng., Secretary Art Deboo, Treasurer Cy Rich, 1st vice Bernie Buckley, 2nd Vice Bruce MacDonald

2003 – 2005 
Pres. Art Deboo., Past President, Frank Didomizio., Treasurer Cy Rich., Secretary Bernie Buckley, 1st vice, Gary McCoy, 2nd Vice Don Brand, Member at large Gerry Robbins

2005 – 2007 
President, Art Deboo, Past President, Frank Didomizio., Treasurer Gerry Robbins, Secretary, Bernie Buckley, 1st  vice Claude Drapeau member at large, Charles Murphy 2nd vice

2007 – 2009 
President, Art Deboo, Past President Frank Didomizio, Treasurer Gerry Robbins, Secretary. Bernie Buckley, Charles Murphy 2nd vice, Hayward MacDonald, Claude Drapeau 1st vice, Cathy Campbell, John Moffat members at large.

2009 – 2011 
President Lorne Hamilton, Past President Art Deboo, Treasurer Larry Sidler, Secretary Jim Knight, Vice President Gerry Robbins, Hayward MacDonald, John Moffat, Gary Stevenson, Charles Murphy

2011 – 2013 
President Lorne Hamilton, Past President Art Deboo, Treasurer Gord Pearson, Secretary Charles Murphy, Vice President Jim Knight, David Prescott, Claude Drapeau, John Fautley, Bernard Schaan, Larry Sidler

Other years to be filled in…. work in progress

2018 – 2020

President Gary Stevenson, Treasurer Richard Burri, Secretary Trudi Farquhar, VP none, Directors Vaughan Harris, Scott James, Frank Didomizio, Dave Elder, Vaughan

2020 – 2022

President Gary Stevenson, Treasurer Richard Burri, Secretary none, VP none, Directors Vaughan Harris, James, Frank Didomizio, Dave Elder

2022 – 2023

President Gary Stevenson, Treasurer Richard Burri, Secretary Vaughan Harris, Vice President Scott James, Directors Frank Didomizio, Dave Elder, Gerry Robbins

2023 – 2024