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History of Handbell Guilds of Canada

(1994 - 2019)

Handbell Guilds of Canada (HGC) was a national umbrella organization supporting the five provincial handbell guilds which existed at the time, including British Columbia (BCGEHR), Alberta (ALGEHR), Saskatchewan (SGEHR), Manitoba (MBGEHR) and Ontario (OGEHR). This organization was established to represent the provincial handbell guilds at the international level and to foster positive musical relationships between the provincial handbell guilds and across Canada.

In 1983, the Alberta Guild of English Handbell Ringers (ALGEHR) was established to unite the growing interest in handbell ringing in that province. Similar guilds followed in Ontario (1985), Saskatchewan (1988), British Columbia (1993) and Manitoba (1995). As the provincial guilds developed and grew, the need for communication and a desire for musical sharing across the country also grew. As well, Canada was being encouraged by the world handbell communities to have a national presence on the International Handbell Committee (IHC) which at that time included national member guilds from the United States, Japan, Great Britain, Korea, and Australasia (encompassing Australia and New Zealand).

Formation of Tri-Guild
Official Adoption of Handbell Guilds of Canada
First HGC Board of Directors
HGC Logo
Ringing Link National Conference
HGC in the International Handbell Committee (IHC)
HGC Hosts International Handbell Symposium (IHS)

Formation of Tri-Guild

The Canadian national guild began as an idea shared among a number of provincial guild presidents and ringers in 1989 to provide a national voice for Canadian handbell musicians. A Tri-Guild meeting of the Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan Guilds of English Handbell Ringers was held in Edmonton, Alberta on June 15, 1991. The meeting agenda included proposals for ways to be included at the International Handbell Committee (IHC) table and processes for competitions to choose a conductor and a handbell composition to represent Canada at the biennial Handbell Symposium (IHS). Founding members included: Lorraine Loewen (BC), Alison Wood (AB), Ron Vert (MB), Carol Petrie (SK), Susan Pentilichuk (SK), Derrick Sawyer (ON), and Marjorie Slinn (ON).

Official Adoption of Handbell Guilds of Canada

In 1992, the four existing provincial guilds informally established the Handbell Guilds of Canada as permission had been given by the IHC to host the Fifth International Handbell Symposium in Edmonton, Alberta in August that same year. The name ‘Handbell Guilds of Canada’ was officially adopted on September 25, 1994 representing the Provincial Handbell Guilds of British Columbia (BCGEHR), Alberta (ALGEHR), Saskatchewan (SGEHR) and Ontario (OGEHR). By 1996, the Manitoba Guild (MBGEHR) had also joined.

First HGC Board of Directors

On January 28, 2001, the first official Board of Directors for HGC was selected. It was agreed that the Board would include the current Presidents of BCGEHR, ALGEHR, SGEHR, MBGEHR and OGEHR. One other Executive member from each provincial guild Board would also be included.

HGC Logo

A competition to develop a logo for HGC was initiated with notification sent to the five provincial guilds in October 1999. Ten submissions were received. Florence Niven, from Ontario, was the winning designer. On January 28, 2001 it was decided that the new HGC logo would be registered with the Canadian government.

Ringing Link National Conference

The first national conference, appropriately named Ringing Link, was held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 1998, followed with conferences as follows:

2000 Edmonton AB
2002 Winnipeg MB ‘Christmas in July’
2005 Penticton BC ‘To Everything There is a Season’
2008 London ON ‘From C to Shining C…’
2011 Calgary AB ‘Ring at the Roundup’
2014 Winnipeg MB ‘Dickens of a Christmas’

Ringing Link (RL) Logo

The Ringing Link (RL) logo has evolved over the years starting with a design used for the first Ringing Link 1998 held in Saskatoon Saskatchewan. By 2002 the logo included the handbell fronted on a red maple leaf from the HGC Logo and the music notes represented the first phrase of the song ‘O Canada’ in E flat. The Ringing Link year was included on the bottom left of the logo. For more information on the development of the RL logo please see the article from program of RL2005 detailing history of development of the logo here.

HGC in the International Handbell Committee (IHC)

Although members of the Tri-Guild were permitted to have a representative at the International Handbell Committee (IHC) table in August 1992 (Edmonton, AB) and August 1994 (Adelaide, AUS), Handbell Guilds of Canada (HGC) was officially recognized by the IHC as the national body for handbell ringing in Canada as of the 1996 International Handbell Symposium. Unlike other national handbell members of the IHC which have individuals of the handbell ringing community in their country as their members, the actual members of the HGC were the provincial handbell guilds. The HGC model recognized equal individual member guilds, each operating with their own bylaws, programs, finances, incorporated status, etc., but choosing to be part of a federation bringing their ideas and votes to the national body. HGC was therefore a confederation that operated on its own terms, based on a Memorandum of Understanding that was agreed to by the individual provincial guilds.

HGC hosts International Handbell Symposium (IHS)

HGC, as a member guild of the IHC, was expected to host an International Handbell Symposium (IHS) in the year determined by the rotation amongst the national member guilds in the IHC. IHS events were hosted by HGC as follows:

1992Edmonton AB

Toronto ON “Building Bridges”


Vancouver BC “Soundings; Music of Our Land and Our Lives”

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