June 25: James Gordon & Brian Holstein

James Gordon is a Canadian songwriter/playwright/musician/producer and community activist. Co-founder of the legendary Canadian folk trio Tamarack, he’s released 40 albums in 40 years! He was a weekly contributor to Arthur Black’s “Basic Black” CBC radio program. His songs have been covered by many artists, and his iconic “Frobisher Bay” has become a Canadian classic. Known as a ‘poetician’, James is also a city councillor in his hometown of Guelph, Ontario. This year James has been busier than you might think during a pandemic. He has a novel and an album coming out, and he is touring virtually with an online version of his one-man play “James Gordon’s Emergency Climate Musical”.

Brian Holstein grew up on a dairy farm in NSW, Australia before becoming a teacher. Immigrating to Canada over 50 years ago, he continued his profession until retirement. He discovered that he was a storyteller and has pursued that talent ever since. A member of the Guelph Guild of Storytellers, he founded Tea ‘n’ Tales some 12 years ago and has since seen it grow in popularity.

He is also an avid traveller, willing to go off the beaten track, away from the usual tourist routes. Many of his trips have been circuitous routes back to Australia, talking to anyone, formulating tales to share.

Brian has also been a community activist, and a character actor depicting many of Guelph’s past (and sometimes questionable) characters.

July 2: Heather Whaley and JennyQ

JennyQ is a creative soul who has always been enthralled with a good story, song and mystery.

In 2009, JennyQ joined The Guelph Guild of Storytellers, where her inner creative being was resurrected and hungry for expression. At the World Storytelling Event with the Baden Guild of Storytellers in 2017, she shared an original piece, Bag of Butterflies. JennyQ wrote and performed a piece about Laura Secord for the Guelph Guild of Storytellers in July (2020), and created a show featuring Willy called Stories & Stuff, a fun short show about community connection, stories, and laughter.

Heather Whaley is a seasoned versatile storyteller singer-songwriter who performs both traditional and personal stories, bringing them to life through her vibrancy and unique voice. Known for musical storytelling, she tells to all ages and includes songs, chants, original spoken word, verse, poetry, and effectively incorporates props, singing, and playing guitar. She connects well with preschool, kindergarten and elementary school children and youth.

She has three CD’s for children and youth, a song EP, and two singles for adults. See programs, past events, and Heather’s CDs on her website.

July 9: Judy & Paul Caulfield

Judy Caulfield has been telling stories for nearly four decades. Judy delights in sharing and exploring stories with different audiences and in different settings.  Her repertoire includes family stories, Celtic tales, stories from Canada, and historical events. 

Her husband and performing partner Paul Caulfield is a singer/guitarist whose repertoire includes acoustic covers and originals. He is a member of Credit River Time, a Brampton-based quartet and, as a solo artist, he’s noted for his humorous tellings of the stories behind the songs. They are members of Storytelling Toronto, the Baden Storytelling Guild, and the Brampton Folk Club.  Together, Judy and Paul have performed at: The Toronto Storytelling Festival, Guelph’s Tea ’n’ Tales Festival, Edinburgh’s Scottish Storytelling Centre, Brampton’s Sanderson Hall, and the Peel Art Gallery Museum and Archives.

July 16: Brad Woods & Mariella Bertelli

Brad Woods has told stories at festivals, theatres, conferences, prisons, churches and pubs all over North America and the UK. He tells traditional tales, literary classics and personal stories. His stories have been featured in a variety of broadcasts and publications including CBC Radio 1, the Globe and Mail and Canadian Running Magazine. He is the recipient of the Alice Kane Award for Storytelling and used it to travel to Lesotho (Southern Africa) to tell, trade and collect stories on behalf of Bracelet of Hope. During the pandemic Brad has told tales virtually to all ages and in every type of venue imaginable, including a Residency at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto.

Mariella Bertelli, storyteller and librarian, is a bilingual storyteller, as comfortable in telling in English as she is telling in Italian, as much at ease telling rhymes to babies as she is telling stories to seniors. She has translated, adapted and told stories from Boccaccio’s Decameron and Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso and many Italian fairy tales. Her repertoire includes folk and fairy tales, literary, personal and original stories based on her background and life experience. Over the years she has collaborated with other storytellers to create shows that blend many of the visual and performing arts with storytelling – including the Bankelsang Project, Alice Then and Now, A Night at Boccacio’s, and three Toy Theatre shows: Masetto, Alibech, Cinderella or the little shoe. She has performed at National and International Festivals and events in Canada, the US, South Africa, Belgium and Italy for many years.

July 23: Lynn Torrie & Donna McCaw

Lynn Torrie combines a lifelong love of stories with more than 30 years of work as a children’s occupational therapist. She enjoys traditional tales that not only entertain, but also teach us how to live well with others and with our environment. She tells in schools, churches and community settings, with a particular fondness for child and family audiences. She is a regular teller at Toronto’s 1001 Friday Nights of Storytelling and hosts Storytelling Toronto’s Meridian Storytent. She is a member of the York Storytelling Guild and has performed in Ottawa’s “Signature Series”, Toronto’s “The Word on the Street” and is a regular at the Toronto Storytelling Festival.

Donna McCaw was raised on a farm near Strathroy, Ontario originally but now calls Elora home.  She started telling stories officially about 25 years ago at the Story Barn in Baden.  Since then she has told in Victoria and Sidney, B.C., Harbourfront and 1001 Nights in Toronto, in Guelph, in classrooms and libraries and long term care homes.  She performed with various singer songwriters on a number of shows that have toured around Ontario. 

July 30: Sarah Abusara & Susan Bouchard

Sarah Abusarar comes from a long line of storytellers on her paternal side. She tells stories to both adults and children. Sarah has told, both nationally and internationally, at various cultural centres, museums, art galleries, festivals, libraries, parks and homes.  Because Sarah grew up in several countries, she tells stories from all over the world with a focus on Palestinian and Croatian stories, where her roots lie.  Her favorite stories are ones that promote social change. Sarah has also used stories in a therapeutic way, with  children in refugee camps as well as refugee children in Toronto. She teaches stories at the Parent Child Mother Goose Program. Sarah tells stories so that she may go deep inside of the tales and find herself in far away magical places, that she remembers, from long, long ago.

Susan Ida Boucaud can often be heard listening to and telling stories at 1001 Friday Nights of Storytelling in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 

By some, her stories and songs are experienced as gripping, unsettling and at times loving. Some listeners have the feeling of being plucked from the present reality and placed into another. 

August 6: Elizabeth & Beve Matson

According to her mother Beverly, Elizabeth Matson has been a storyteller since the age of five. Growing up in her mother’s Guelph Children’s Theatre Company, Elizabeth loved creating and acting out stories. As a children’s librarian, Elizabeth passes on the storytelling tradition as coach of the teen storytelling troupe at her library in Wisconsin (USA).  Her favourite stories are traditional tales told with a modern twist and her mother’s tales about when she was a little girl.

Beverly Matson enjoys telling personal stories and adopting folktales. She loves the connections that storytelling creates with an audience.  “One story leads to another, and I’m drawn to the ways that stories touch the heart.”  She is a retired teacher/librarian where she became renowed  as a wonderful storyteller, captivating children and adults alike.  She has told at the Toronto Storytelling Guild at Harbourfront and the Baden Storytellers Guild.

Beve has directed, performed, and costumed for Guelph Little Theatre and Puppets Elora. Each recognized her work with special awards. In 2017 she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award from the Guelph Youth Music Centre for her work with children in the dramatic arts. Her photograph and accomplishments can be seen on their Wall of Fame. It is not surprising that out of a home rich with living arts experiences and love of story, Beve’s daughter, Elizabeth Matson grew up to become a recognized, professional storyteller. Elizabeth lives and works in the US but GGS feels blessed when her home visits coincide with their events and Elizabeth becomes the featured teller.  

August 13: Jay Wilson & Anna Kerz

Jay Wilson was fortunate as both his parents were active in amateur theatre in Galt Ontario and as a result Jay pursued studies in drama. With a varied career in theatre arts, both in administration and as a performer, Jay would fill the gaps touring puppets shows. These puppet shows morphed into vaudeville-style shows and then the puppets, props and special effects were slowly stripped away leaving Jay performing recitations. Much to his surprise the recitations were wildly popular and so Jay dropped all the theatrical paraphernalia and began simply reciting things from memory. This lead to Jay’s current project as a tour guide for “JayWalking Guelph”, while continuing to dabble in storytelling at parties, get-togethers, and local events.

Anna Kerz is an accomplished storyteller with a wide repertoire of tales that touch the heart and tickle the funny bone. She is known for her family stories, many of which tell about her early years as an immigrant child in Toronto’s Kensington Market and about life-lessons learned the hard way.

Anna tells to listeners of all ages in schools and libraries, at community gatherings and at various festivals. In schools she is happy to work with librarians and teachers from JK to grade twelve in order to prepare multicultural programming that supports and enhances the teaching of character traits as well as aspects of the Ontario curriculum pertaining to history, language arts or the various holiday celebrations. For younger students, presentations include interactive, participatory tales that entertain and foster the imagination. For more information see:  http://www.annakerz.ca

August 20: Rusty Dougherty & Norman Perrin

Rusty Dougherty is the proud father of two beautiful extremely smart daughters.  Raised in Montreal, educated in Montreal, Alberta and Ontario, Rusty proudly served others as a Trauma/MediVac Registered Nurse. After Nursing, Rusty obtained his degree in Environmental/Safety using his skills in government and non-government work areas.

Rusty has told stories all his life.  Whether in school/church or work situations.   Storytelling for Rusty was a companion in Health Care helping patients to hear a friendly voice and sway their anxieties away from themselves.

In retirement Rusty identifies, develops, and shares stories of lore, history, and life.  Stories from Canada, Ireland, America.  Stories to share ideas, events, mystique and just simple fun.

In 1989 Norman Perrin began his journey on the Ocean of Story, working in Ontario schools and festivals, in 1992 becoming storyteller in residence at the Spiral Garden, a groundbreaking outdoor interactive arts program for the children of the Hugh MacMillan Children’s Hospital.
In 2013 he packed small figures of people, animals, little curios and a plate sized flat stone into a wooden box and set off on The Rolling Story Stone Tour, with a series of story creation sessions in Scotland, Switzerland, Israel, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
After performing online at the World Storytelling Cafe, Norman was invited to perform live at the first International Marrakech Storytelling Festival in Feb. 2022

He runs the Four Winds Storytellers’ Library, a 6000 volume research library for storytellers out of his flat in Toronto, Canada. 

August 27: Don Connibear & June Brown

As a young boy, it was on his grandfather’s knee, as he spun tales of his adventures in Canada’s far north, that Don Connibear was first exposed to the art and magic of story telling. 

Along with the mini-dramas of daily life, a career in law enforcement provided Don with many stories of his own that needed to be told.

Husband to his delightful wife Carolyn, and father to three grown children, Don recalls a time when his family would gather around the campfire on family road trips, and his children would say “Dad, tell us the story about the time….”  

In each of Don’s story, he tries to find the light in the darkness, the humour in the messy, inspiration in the brave, and the humanity in us all. 

Now as a member of Guelph’s Guild of Storytellers, Don has found an outlet to share his stories, real and imagined (usually a bit of both),  with a broader audience.

June Brown enjoys working with listeners of all ages. Many of her favorite stories involve audience participation. She often incorporates puppets, music and felt storyboards when telling to younger children or in therapeutic settings. Whether the listeners are young or old, her stories allow them to stretch their imaginations and experience fun, laughter, suspense and amazement. “Tell it again,” is a common response.

June has told stories in schools, libraries, churches, daycare centres, therapeutic settings, nursing and retirement homes, summer camps and festivals.

She does workshops using the Story Jam program teaching adults and students how to learn to tell their own tales.

September 3: Adwoa Badoe & Sya VanGeest

Adwoa Badoe has entertained audiences young and old with her story telling at the Toronto Story Telling Festival, Montreal Story Telling Festival; Eden Mills Writers Festival, Milton Writers Festival, The International Children’s Festival of Mississauga, Hillside Festival and other places.

In collaboration with Kwame Badoe, she wrote the story for The Dance of the Elifons – a sleep tape for children.

She has also written, choreographed, and directed The River Bride, an African Dance and Drum Spoken Word performance. 

Sya VanGeest is an avid, veteran storyteller, comfortable telling to all ages. She’s a regular volunteer in schools, children’s groups, senior homes, church groups, special events, and a teacher of the craft of story telling. She is an experienced educator with more than thirty years as a classroom teacher, consultant, author of curricula and short stories and teacher-librarian in high schools and elementary schools. 
Sya’s stories may come from her life experience growing up as a middle child on a farm, or ancient tales with their roots in oral traditions such as the Bible, folktales and fairytales.  She finds many gems hidden in the fabulous body of picture books in her large personal collection, to which she regularly adds current gems found at her favourite bookstore in Guelph, The Bookshelf.

Sya is a founding member of the Guelph GoGo Grandmothers (4Gs) (2006). It is part of a global grandmother movement supporting the African Grandmothers Campaign of the Stephen Lewis Foundation. That, in addition to personal, loving connections to Africa, explains why currently Sya is drawn to stories that originate in Africa. She is part of 4Gs Griots, a troupe of 4Gs tellers who regularly visit schools, seniors homes and churches to dramatize African stories and bring awareness of the great needs of African gogos and their amazing accomplishments caring for orphans in their community. 

Sya was the recipient of the Ontario Library Association Distinguished Service Award in 2004 and the Guelph Women of Distinction for Voluntary Community in 2010.