For excellence in service to Muskoka Arts & Crafts.
In 1990, Muskoka Arts & Crafts invited Elene Freer to work for the organization, an offer she
accepted and commenced in June of that year. She had no idea that, more than 31 years later, it
would be her life’s career.
Over the years, Elene worked diligently, enthusiastically and tirelessly to develop meaningful
programs for both the members as well as our local and extended community. She stove to
advance Muskoka Arts & Crafts as a professionally administered organization with an excellent
and respected reputation that reached far beyond the borders of Muskoka.
Looking back over the past three decades, there were many accomplishments that Elene was
proud to have initiated. She was delighted to introduce the concept of Muskoka as a designated
arts community. It was her honour to bring such renowned Canadian artists as Doris McCarthy,
Michael Robinson, Denis Geden, Mendelson Joe, Donald Stuart and others to the Chapel
Gallery. It was a pleasure for Elene to work with so many of our local artists who entrusted the
Chapel Gallery to exhibit their art. Perhaps the project closest to her heart was the 2011 Muskoka
Artists Marketplace. This project was originated and administered by Elene and saw 16 artists
from Muskoka attend the One-of-a-Kind Show in Toronto. Muskoka Arts & Crafts’ booth
became a destination within the show and was a model for other groups to follow. The greatest
satisfaction for Elene, however, came from watching the members grow and develop as they
explored their creativity and skilfullness. She always found it most gratifying to learn how
Muskoka Arts & Crafts played a role in their artistic advancement.
Elene was sincerely grateful to the community relationships and partnerships, such as the one
with the Town of Bracebridge, that helped Muskoka Arts and Crafts to fulfill its mandate to
develop a robust artistic community that plays a significant role in creating a healthy community
and also ensuring the economic impact of the arts remain significant.
Upon her retirement on October 31, 2021, the workshop room was renamed The Freer Space.
This, along with the renaming of the student art award to The Elene J. Freer Art Scholarship on
the occassion of her 25th anniversary of service with the organiztion were particularly touching
as they recognized her belief, support and encouragement for life-long learning and how
everyone can learn from each other. Elene earned an Honours Bachelor of Arts with a major in
English literature from York University (Toronto, Ontario) and a Master of Arts specializing in
folklore from Memorial University of Newfoundland (St. John’s, Newfoundland).
To also celebrate her retirement, Elene was was given a lifetime membership in the organization.
Upon reflecting on her career with Muskoka Arts & Crafts that spanned just over three decades,
Elene remarked that she was heartened and grateful that she was able to make a difference in the
lives of our members, our community in Muskoka and our extended family of artists and
supporters. It was personally rewarding for Elene to have served as Executive Director for
Muskoka Arts & Crafts.