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The Goderich CoOp Gallery began with an idea of Mr. Dan Murphy, the owner of the building at 54 Courthouse Square, which had once been Gerards Department Store.Mr. Murphy charged his nephew, Lonny Doherty, a local artist, to renovate the building and start up a local art gallery. It took two years for Lonny to complete the work, and eventually in the spring of 2002, a call for jurying was issued for a summer art show at the new “Goderich Art Gallery”.
The earliest members of the venture signed a three month contract. Madeleine Roske, Bill Creighton, and Jim McMullan were among those early members. They stayed on after the initial 3 months, with Jerry McDonnell joining at the next jurying, in the early fall of 2002, as well as a number of local artists.
In those early days, the gallery occupied both floors, and the few members were scheduled for a full week of gallery duty at a time. Mr. Dan Murphy continued to offer guidance and ideas. Mr. Murphy was an important early mentor for the members, who were primarily concerned with making art, not business proficiency.
One of Mr. Murphy’s ideas was to hold an “Open Show” annually, to encourage community participation. This non-juried show, open to all community members, was originally called the “Donnelly-Murphy Open Show”, and this community outreach by the gallery has continued to be an annual commitment and tradition; our community show is now called “Exposure”.
Different members over the years have brought not just their art, but also their various organizational skills, business acumen, and operational ideas, all of which have helped the galley to grow and prosper. Each member offers expertise in various “gallery tasks”, all of which help us to maintain a professional presentation.
Even the tornado of 2011, did not deter members from continuing. The members who stayed, met regularly under the leadership of President Jerry McDonnell, to plan, and commit to the necessary renovations, and clean-up. Following a 6 month closure to effect repairs, members re-opened and the gallery continued on its path of growth and change.
In 2013, the building was purchased from the family of the late Dan Murphy by Elizabeth Profit, who had been renting the upper floor for her own art gallery since 2003. However, the change of ownership did not result in any overall change, as we had already shared the building with Elizabeth’s Gallery for 10 years at that point.
One change following the tornado, under Elizabeth’s ownership was a brand new “face” for the building, new brickwork, new windows, new lighting, and new front doors, both galleries had new flooring installed, and CoOp member’s ingenuity resulted in new floating walls, plus a new hanging system. Elizabeth installed a large sign on the front of the building which said, “Art Gallery”, making it easier for visitors to find us.
In 2014, the gallery members voted to incorporate as an official Co-Operative, under Provincial legislation. At about the same time, we moved to develop two membership classifications; full membership, plus consignee membership, which aimed to attract members unable to commit to working on a regular basis in the gallery.
The year 2021 brought the most recent trial for the Gallery; the Covid pandemic. This period has been one of uncertainty; with closures of varying periods, plus mandatory precautions for members and visitors. During the first of three shut down periods, members repainted the gallery. At points during the two years of covid, in addition to the repainting, the carpets were professionally cleaned, and we had a custom made wrought-iron gate installed at the top of the entrance stairs, and enhanced our security measures.
As the restrictions have begun to ease, during this spring of 2022, in our 20th year of operation, we are emerging from this latest crisis with renewed hope for continued success of the GCG.
After all, a time of crisis can be a time of turmoil and despair, OR a time for renewal and hope for the future.
Written spring 2022
Judy Barker

The story of the Goderich Art Club, by Nancy Marchl and Co-op Gallery Member, Madeleine Roske is now available at the gallery. 


You can still pick up a copy by contacting either Madeleine Roske (call 519-524-2074 or email ) or Nancy Marchl (519-524-6490) directly and making arrangements for pick up. (Copies are $25) You can still pick up a copy by contacting either Madeleine Roske (call 519-524-2074 or email ) or Nancy Marchl (519-524-6490) directly and making arrangements for pick up. (Copies are $25)

(519) 440-0523 54 Courthouse Square (lower level), Goderich, Ontario, Canada © 2014. Goderich Coop Gallery. All Rights Reserved.