Martin Rumack – Great Canadian Crafting Legend, Lawyer and a Founding Member of One of a Kind Show

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By Martin Rumack

November 26, 2014

OneofaKindShow - FingerPrint
Vintage Poster from the early days of One of a Kind Show

Original Co-Founder of One of a Kind Show to be honoured during Opening Night

Hall of Fame and 40th Year celebration. Thursday November 27th, 2014

For many Canadians, the Christmas Show is a longstanding shopping tradition for those in search of one-of-a-kind gifts. And for many artisans and designers, the One of a Kind Show & Sale has been credited for being a turning point in their careers. They see the show as an authority within the handmade community, and they embrace the opportunity to expose their beautiful creations to an audience of over 140,000 people. Martin Rumack will be honored at this years Gala as one of the founding members of the trio that launched the One of a Kind Craft Show 40 years ago.  Here is a bit of the “story” behind the greatest Canadian craft show in Martin’s words.

The One of a Kind Canadian Craft Show

The Canadian Craft Show resulted from a casual get together of a hippy jeweller, a young inexperienced (at the time) lawyer, and a long-haired social work student.  The root of the idea resulted from the fact the jeweller who was from Montréal talked to the lawyer (me) and the social work student about a successful Craft Show which had been in existence in Montréal for several years at that time and she believed Toronto was ready for, needed and would support a similar type of exhibition and sale.  During the course of the meeting having some “refreshments” in our bodies, we decided to proceed with the idea and the Canadian Craft show seed was germinated.

Over the course of approximately 3 months, notwithstanding various turns in the road and hurdles to overcome, such as a national postal strike — in the days before fax, emails, texting, Blackberry, etc., the initial refusal by Exhibition Place to rent us space – in the days before the International Convention Centre, the Toronto Convention Centre, were even built; with a very, very small budget – a grand total of $3,000.00; and not being known in the Craft and Art community, we were successful in providing a 7 day show and sale.  As a matter of fact the Saturday saw us inundated with a massive snowstorm which severely impacted our attendance that day.  The “success” of the first years show has resulted in one of the best Craft and Art shows and sales in North America in my opinion in the world as well.

With over 800 exhibitors from across Canada – coast-to-coast participation, having a 10 day event which attracts visitors from across Canada, the United States, and tourists in Toronto from around the world, I believe that the idea which started with the goal of promoting Canadian Crafts and Art has succeeded – certainly it has become something more than I ever expected even in my haze of that evening 40 years ago.  The Canadian Craft Show has also achieved our objective of bringing together top quality artisans from across the country; this was why we called the show The Canadian Craft Show as opposed to the Toronto Craft Show or the Exhibition Place Craft Show.  Another goal which has been achieved is my goal of the show helping enable craftspeople and artists to be able to earn a sustainable living from their work which partly resulted from my other goal of educating the public with respect to the value of the work created by Canadian artisans.

I do look back with pride and a sense of success in having accomplished what we set out to do through hard work and dedication.  The happiness I have experienced from “my baby” at times is almost overwhelming.  Thank you all of the past and present exhibitors, you to the visitors, you the media, our staff who over the years number in the hundreds maybe even more, the teams which helped physically erect the booths, electricians, maintenance people, and many others who helped us put the show together every year – actually the past 35 years, twice a year with the One of a Kind Spring Show.  Finally congratulations and my thanks to all of you.

Have a great Holiday Season and help us celebrate the 40th Anniversary.


Martin K. I. Rumack


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