In 1981, fourteen artisans came together to sell their work, in beautiful downtown Kingston Ontario, giving rise to “Cornerstone Co-op – A Guild of Artisans”. The Co-operative ran successfully for many years with new artists joining, while others moved along. In the late nineties however, the cooperative strugged, and a couple of the members took over the business, rebranding it as “Cornerstone Fine Arts & Fine Crafts”. They continued to showcase talent from across Canada including exhibiting works from Cape Dorset, Nunavut.
In 2014, the store was purchased by current owner and curator, Penny Knapp. Continuing to feature strictly Canadian content, every effort was made to ensure that works from each province and territory were included. The store re-branded once more to become “Cornerstone Canadian Art & Craft.” Reflecting the passion for Canadian made art and craft, the Indigenous space within the shop was expanded, with a dedicated section featuring works from First Nations and Inuit artists.
“We wanted to do more to engage with local artists in our community,” says manager, Lisa Scales “That is why we created the “Local Featured Artist Program” where each month a different local artisan’s work is displayed, promoted, and available for purchase.” Lisa adds that, “We continue to have great community response to this program.”
“Feedback is very important to us here at Cornerstone.” Penny says, “We have the best visitors! Including local customers, tourists, and those that visit us whenever they are in town. So, we considered it quite the honour when, as voted by our visitors, we were the winners of the 2019 Ontario Choice Award for Top Ontario Small Museum/Art Gallery/Historic Site!” Penny adds that, “Community is the heart of Cornerstone.”
Located in the historic Macauley House at the junction of 255 Ontario Street and Princess Street, the “Little Art Shop on the Corner”, has become a fixture in Kingston’s downtown scene, representing over 100 Canadian artisans working in a variety of materials and media, from coast to coast to coast. Cornerstone continues to offer great customer service and high quality pieces their customers have come to expect. The 40th anniversary marks decades of adaptation, change and growth. The one thing that hasn’t changed? “All Canadian All the Time!”
Visit Cornerstone Canadian Art & Craft at:
255 Ontario St., Kingston ON K7L 2Z4
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