There is a very special treasure in Collingwood that many people are just starting to discover. It’s a magical place where children are the stars.
It’s called the Magic of Children Art Gallery and to the best of my knowledge, it is the only child focused art gallery in Ontario. Founded by local artist Lory MacDonald, the Magic of Children started with shows over 14 years ago. I recall my own children having their artwork displayed in a Magic show in the library over a decade ago. Something like that really encourages the creativity in children and most certainly promotes self esteem. Now, can you imagine how a young person might feel to see their very own works framed and hung in a gallery?
Last year, the Saunders family donated second floor space above their Office Pro store to the Magic of Children organization so they could establish a gallery. The building itself has quite a history since it was first built as a book store in 1890.
In 1953, a local entrepreneur Jack Saunders opened Saunders Studio in this space as a commercial business that was established after he served in the Navy during WW2. He was a radio operator during the war but learned his photography skills while providing navy pals with photos- obviously an entrepreneur at heart! Jack took thousands of photographs including local school pictures, shipyard launches, weddings, businesses and buildings in Collingwood and the area and many local families recall visits to the studio to mark important family events.
It’s fitting that now the Magic Gallery is in his former photo studio where his tripod marks can still be seen in the floor. Son David Saunders took over Saunder’s Stationery business and operated it out of another building but moved it back to 57 Hurontario in the early 90’s. The building was restored to its former glory and was one of the first historic building restorations on Hurontario Street.
Jack Saunders passed away in 1994 but he always loved children and art. His grandson, Joe Saunders says that Jack would be happy to see the Magic Gallery exhibiting art and producing programs that help foster the advancement of children’s creativity.
Currently the gallery is run by volunteers including Director Marion Lewis who is a veteran producer, performance artist and director of arts spaces. She is the founder of A Space in Toronto which is considered the first artist-run gallery in Canada. She is currently advising the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Canadian Department for an exhibition that is part of the grand re-opening of the new building in September 2008.
The hours of operation are not yet firmly established as they await signage but generally you can find Marion on-site weekends from 11am-4pm and by appointment during the week. Call Marion at 444-0911 to arrange a visit and, to ask for directions. The entrance is so tricky to find that it’s almost a secret. But it’s a good secret that is worth telling.
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