Before the advent of type, when all books and documents were hand-written, many different hands were developed over the centuries. With the advent of type, the techniques of writing with the broad-edged pen were lost until British Craft Movement member Edward Johnston rediscovered them. This rediscovered art was brought to Canada by Grace Melvin, who came from Glasgow to set up a design department at the Vancouver School of Art in 1927, and Esme Davis, a student of Johnston's, who moved to Victoria after WWII and taught design and calligraphy there.
Calligraphy as a leisure-time activity for enthusiastic hobbyists burgeoned in the mid-1970s, influenced by a revival of interest in both the US and Britain. Leisure-time courses taught not just italic, bookhand, uncial and germanic scripts (see GERMANIC FRAKTUR AND CALLIGRAPHY) with historical samples as models, but a design approach that turned the written word into works of art.
The resulting numbers of calligraphers, who work for both love and profit, have found it useful to form guilds for support and education. These guilds offer courses to their members both from local talent and by calligraphic artists imported from England, West Germany and the US. A yearly show of members' works is a feature of most Canadian guilds. Calligraphy guilds are located in Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria as well as smaller centres in Ontario, Alberta and BC. The oldest are Victoria's, Vancouver's and Toronto's, all founded in 1976, and the largest is Calgary's, with 400 active members.