In 1974, Alf Ebsen, influenced by European calligraphy for many years prior to his immigration to Canada, and 12 of his former students founded the Handwriters Guild of Toronto; and incorporated it as a not-for-profit organization in 1975. In 1984 the name changed to the Calligraphic Arts Guild of Toronto to better reflect the diversity of our members’ creative practices in all different lettering arts. A resident group at NPCC for 20 years, CAGT has continued to provide opportunities for the study of calligraphy, its history, cultural traditions and application for all ages through classes, workshops, monthly membership meetings and exhibitions.
Alf Ebsen’s love and enthusiasm for the pen led him to the development of the ‘Canadian System of Handwriting’. It was a basic, non-flourished Italic script – easy to teach and easy to learn. His vision was the introduction of the Italic cursive writing into Canadian schools through trained instructors as means of pedagogical aid.
Western scripts such as Roman Capitals, Uncial, Carolingian, Gothic, Italic and Copperplate are also taught together with contemporary forms such as Brush Lettering and Monoline Alphabets. Members also explore any number techniques: painting, book making and printmaking as examples.
The advancement of technology and use of computers has changed how artists and others use type, fonts and scripts to communicate through their lettering and artwork. The skill and knowledge of lettering by hand and cursive handwriting is left to a niche of enthusiasts still writing by traditional methods. The Guild is experiencing a renewed curiosity from of all ages. Calligraphy in Toronto is flourishing!