Guild Renaissance Group

Dorsey James : A Patron's Message


At the Guild Renaissance Group annual meeting in 2013, we officially welcomed Dorsey James, renowned Canadian sculptor, as a patron of the Guild Renaissance Group. The following is the text of his memorable speech.



Patrons Message from Dorsey James



The Guild Inn




Art helps us to express who we are.  It’s a universal language, which enables us to identify with and/or to transcend traditional viewpoints concerning race, sex and culture.  It reinforces the importance of story as it gives form and focus to our personal perceptions of the zeitgeist or spirit of the times.


In my pursuit of understanding the world around me and learning to communicate through the Arts, The Guild Inn was a Godsend.  It provided a coalescence of ways of seeing, ways of being and ways of saying “I am”.   As well, it was a stimulating learning environment for the many youth in my instructional care via my teaching position with the York Region Board of Education.


Throughout it’s existence, The Guild has acted as the creative home for many artists including Tom Feenstra, Gerd Unterman, Elizabeth Fraser Williamson and Michael Clay, to name but a few.  We all benefited and grew in many ways.  For this, I will always be grateful to The Guild and to those who made it possible, “kudos to Rosa and Spencer Clark”.  


My introduction to the Clarks happened by way of a mutual business acquaintance.  I was a Fine Arts student at York University when Mary Simpson, the owner of The Gallery Danielli in downtown Toronto, discovered and liked my work which was on display at York’s Ida gallery.  She invited me to participate in an exhibition at The Danielli.  I put four of my works in her gallery.  After roughly a week, I received a call from Mary.  She said, “Dorsey, I have good news and I have bad news.  What do you want first?”  “Oh crap”, I said.  Give me the bad news”.   “You no longer have any work in the gallery”. “Aw damn, did you have a fire or a break-in?”  “No, they all sold”.  “Bull sugar!”  No, it’s the truth says Mary.  “Well, if that’s the bad news, then what’s the good news?”  “Well, guess who bought them.”  I don’t know, the Pope?  Nooo, it was Spencer Clark.  Riiiiight, who, pray tell, is Spencer Clark?  Well Dorsey, he owns the Guild Inn.  Riiiight, what’s the Guild Inn?  Arggh, Dorsey, what are you doing right now?  Nothing.  Well, I’m going to pick you up.  I’m taking you to the Guild Inn.  So, Mary drove up from Dundas and McCaul to my place, near Victoria Park and Ellesmere.


When we arrived at The Guild, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.  It was the most beautiful space I’d ever seen.  The grounds were in its hey day.  The multitude of tree canopies dappled with sunlight and greenery offered open invitation to come sit and just be.  There were flower gardens, the likes of which I’d never seen.  Their combinations of colour, texture and form were totally unpredictable but immensely enjoyable. The assortment of Corinthian columns, concrete moldings of Greek Gods and other architectural remnants provided the grounds with a subtle aura of classicism.


Mary introduced me to Spencer who took us on a tour of the grounds.  This included the inner workings of the hotel and kitchen, countless relics of times gone by, a plethora of photographs of persons, places and things along with their histories, identities and inside stories. Rosa, later, invited us to a late lunch at which time she introduced me to another something brand new to my experience, …Maple Syrup on vanilla ice cream.  It was so good it caused my toes curl up and my hair, straighten.  After I’d hastily inhaled my first serving, I remember Rosa, looking knowingly at the maid and commenting, “I believe Dorsey would like to have another scoop of that.”


Spencer, ultimately, invited me to work on the Guild Grounds as a resident artist.  As well, he commissioned me to carve Nordic images on the sculpture cabin.  This was my first commission.  This building served as my studio for the next nine years.


During my stay at The Guild, I met people from around the world who proved to be as fascinated with their Guild experience as I was with mine. The small cabin provided a safe creative haven for numerous artists who in turn shared much thought provoking yet entertaining story along with the breathtaking works of art they created.


As of late, The Guild has fallen on hard times. The once proud and classic grounds are in desperate need of your help, your patronage, and your communal love.  It is an important part of this community and indeed a unique part of this country’s legacy.  As such we need it to continue for the benefit of all who intimately embrace that Classic air of creativity and natural beauty as have been exhibited over the years by this wonderful space we’ve come to know, love and appreciate as The Guild Inn.


Dorsey James