1987 to 2024

Action Read learners 1991

The following timeline highlights a few of the people, organizations and events involved in shaping Action Read's history in the city of Guelph, Ontario.


  • Action Read, Guelph’s first community-based adult literacy project, is launched as a project of ‘The Centre for Employable Workers’. One-to-one tutoring and small learning groups are offered to adults with literacy and numeracy challenges.
  • Action Read adopts a collective organizational structure, which honours the voices of all members in decision-making and program planning.
  • Ontario government funding is secured. Later the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) creates the Literacy and Basic Skills Program. MTCU remains a committed primary funder and partner until the present day.
  • 1989

    • Family Literacy Program launches. The United Way of Guelph and Wellington quickly recognizes its value and becomes an early supporter.
    • The United Way also becomes a strong supporter of our adult program.  It recognizes the diverse supports needed to provide effective and accessible adult literacy and numeracy services.
    • Action Read hosts a community picnic and a holiday party. Due to their success, they become annual Action Read community events.


    Action Read staff celebrate wearing International Literacy Year t-shirts.

    • Action Read staff use International Literacy Year to help raise community awareness about adult literacy issues in Guelph.


    Learners standing in front of the Gummer Building on move-out day.

    • “Action Read Community Literacy Centre of Guelph” is registered as a charitable non-profit incorporation.  Action Read moves from the Gummer Building to Cork Street in September.


    • GARLIC (‘Guelph Action Read Learners In the Community’) Press is created to allow the voice of the people who use the program to be publically heard, as well as to produce literacy practitioner resources.
    • Three GARLIC Press Publications are launched this year, including “Women…Where are you going?” by the Women’s Group, “Street Mother” by Shirley Almack and “A Mixed Bag” by Action Read learners.


    First women's group sitting at a table talking and learning

    • GARLIC Press releases “Growing Bolder” by Anne Moore and the Action Read Women’s Group (above),  as well as “A Treasure Chest” by Action Read learners.
    • Action Read becomes a member of Project READ Literacy Network of Waterloo-Wellington.
    • An outreach program is launched at the Guelph Detention Centre (now closed).


    Male learner reading newspaper coverage of all-candidates meeting.

    • Action Read hosts its first all-candidates meeting in order to ensure that learners have an opportunity to participate in civil matters by voicing their questions and concerns. In the years that follow, Action Read continues to host all-candidates meetings for municipal, provincial and federal elections.


    • The Diversity Action Group (DAG) is launched as a way to bring learners and volunteers together to address diversity and accessibility issues through education and training.  This very active group plans many workshops over the years, on subjects ranging from ‘Living with Tourette’s Syndrome”, to “Racism 101”, to “Native Spirituality”, to name a few.


    Author Kim Anderson reading at an early 'For the Love of Words' event.

    • Poets and musicians read and perform at the first annual “For the Love of Words” event.  This event is such a success that it becomes our annual fundraiser. Poets who perform over the years include Alison Pick, Christian Bok, Dave Hudson, Dionne Brand, Esta Spalding, Janice Kulyk Keefer, James Clarke, John B. Lee, John Terpstra, Karen Houle, Kim Anderson (above), Lee Maracle and Morvern McNie, among others. Fundraiser continues until 2007.
    • Following a period of program-wide evaluation and long-term planning, Action Read hires Anne Moore as its first Executive Director.


    Shirley Almack Award recipient Bonnie Ford discussing her art.

    • The Shirley Almack Memorial Award is established to honour a courageous community leader and learner. Each year it is given to recognize a learner with outstanding leadership abilities. The first recepient is Bonnie Ford (pictured here).


    • National Literacy Secretariat grants support the release of the GARLIC Press publications “Claiming Our Place” by Jan Sherman, and “A Dream That Walks” book and film, both by Myrna Hanna.
    • With new funding from the County of Wellington, the Family Literacy Program gets a major boost. The program expands into more locations. The Rotary Club of Guelph assists with setting up small lending libraries at five locations.
    • Executive Director Anne Moore receives City of Guelph Mayoral Award for her commitment and literacy advocacy.
    • Action Read moves to the Quebec Street Park Mall building, a wheelchair-accessible building closer to bus routes in downtown Guelph.


    Strategic Planning Brain Storm Image!

    • Building a Dream: The Five Year Plan. Twenty five Action Read learners, volunteers, staff and supporters come together to create a five-year strategic plan.


    Smiling learner using adaptive techology software on the computer.

    • Adaptive Technology Project: Learner-volunteers test and provide feedback on various software programs such as Co-Writer, Kurzweil, Word Q, Dragon NaturallySpeaking and Inspiration. Two GARLIC Press publications are released based upon the knowledge and experience gained from the project.
    • Action Read receives an Access Recognition Award for its efforts to make the community accessible for all citizens.


    Action Read Snack Stand

    • The Snack Stand (above) is developed to give learners skills and experience at running a small business. They learn about customer service, how to use a cash register and track inventory and what’s involved generally in operating a small store. In 2011, learners write a manual based upon their experience.  They use the manual to train other organizations on how to start their own snack stand.
    • An outreach program launched at Stonehenge Therapeutic Centre.
    • The Betty Bean-Kennedy Award is established to honour a passionate, highly committed volunteer each year.  The first recipient is Tom Ashby.


    Doris Middleton reading her poetry.

    • The Doris Middleton Award is established to honour a beloved member of Action Read. Through creativity, humour and commitment to learning, Doris (seen above) overcame immense barriers and inspired others to do the same. The first recipient is Edith Casler.
    • Mira Clarke replaces Anne Moore as Executive Director. Anne stays on to oversee special projects.


    • A year-long ‘Literacy and Housing’ project aims to help learners develop literacy skills within the context of housing issues. The ‘Skills of Success’ women’s group (pictured above) is part of this Human Resources & Skills Development Canada-funded project.
    • GARLIC Press releases “A Dream That Walks II” by Anne Moore.


    Author Anne Moore at the book launch.

    •  GARLIC Press releases two new books; “Making it Work” by Anne Moore (above) and “Learning in Peace” by Jenny Rizk, with Anne Moore.


    Staff member Sarah putting items in the time capsule.

    • Action Read’s 20th Anniversary is celebrated with the creation of a time capsule, which will be opened in 2017.
    • Action Read becomes part of the government’s newly created Employment Ontario network as an employment training support agency.
    • The “Tongues in Trees” Shakespeare Project: Working with artist Dawn Matheson, eight Action Read learners recite Shakespeare outdoors at the ‘Made in Canada’ festival.
    • The Starbuck’s funded ‘Colour Wheel Stories Project’ art and literacy project is launched in partnership with local schools.
    • Action Read creates and launches “The Talking Leaves” Aboriginal family literacy program in partnership with Anishnabeg Outreach. The Rotary Club of Guelph actively supports the program.


    Employment Track Express Program

    • Employment Track Express: The economic downturn creates a recession. Action Read responds by offering the Employment Track Express mobile computer program (above) to teach basic computer and literacy skills for employment.
    • 3-Year Strategic Plan: Learners, volunteers, staff and supporters come together for visioning, planning and goal-setting.
    • Action Read’s Board Chair is quoted in the Ontario Legislature. Like many Ontario individuals and agencies, Action Read is working to demonstrate the need for increased financial commitment to adult literacy. Jenny Rizk’s letter powerfully outlines to politicians why literacy programs are so valuable. It is successful in helping to achieve an increase in funding.


    'Good Eats' group holding Canada Food Guide.

    • ‘Healthy Living’ programs are created to support literacy development and healthy living goals. Groups include ‘Good Eats’ (2009), ‘Healthy Living’ (2010), ‘Walk This Way’ (2011), ‘Simply in Season’ (2011),‘Staying Well’ (2012) and the ‘Food Literacy Project’ (2014). The Guelph Community Foundation and Rotary-Trillium lend their financial support.
    • Action Read volunteers win the Downtown Board of Management’s 2009 Volunteers of the Year Award.


    Action Readers in costume for the United Way Halloween fundraiser.

    • A Games Night, Halloween Party (above) and book sale are organized to raise funds for the United Way. Action Read receives United Way Awards in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013 for outstanding campaigns.


    Storytime Edition Event - Action Read learner reading a story

    • Slumber Party: Storytime Edition. Action Read and artist Dawn Matheson host a public bedtime story hour at the Via Train Station. Children are read stories by Action Read learners.
    • Matheson and learner Cheryl Turner then launch the film “So Much Depends Upon”. Living with a lifelong disability, the film explores Cheryl’s everyday joys through her pursuit of beauty, growth and community.
    •  As part of the Wee Read Committee, Action Read participates in the PLAY (Play with Literacy All Year) Early Literacy Conference in Fergus.
    • The Ontario Trillium Foundation awards Action Read a community grant.


    Volunteer Appreciation Sign indicating 25 years of building literacy in Guelph.

    • Action Read kicks-off its year long 25th Anniversary Celebration with Drumming and Singing at the Volunteer Appreciation event.  Mayor Karen Farbridge and Member of Parliament Frank Valeriote send letters of celebration, which are read with appreciation. Action Read will celebrate its 25th anniversary in various ways throughout 2012.
    • Action Read partners with both ABC Life Literacy Canada and TD Bank employees to deliver a financial literacy project.


    2013 Action Read Strategic Planning

    • Action Read develops more GED and computer learning programs.
    • Strategic planning provides fresh goals and plans for how to achieve them.


    Edgar and Joanne holding their United Way Speaker of the Year Award.

    • Action Read learner Edgar Riel and staff member Joanne Morant win ‘Agency Speakers of the Year Award’ at the United Way’s February 2014 closing ceremonies.


    Action Read learners getting the hang of the cash register.

    • Action Read offers new employment readiness programs such as Cash Register Training, Receptionist Training, Numeracy at Work, both at our offices and in the community.
    • Action Read continues to help learners develop the skills for self-expression and self-care through such initiatives as our Aboriginal writing course “Taking Care of Your Learning Spirit”; The Health Action Group; The Wellness Fair; ‘StoryMash’—A community story written by over 40 individuals; Creative Writing Retreat with Dr. Karen Houle; Mural painting with Cliff Smith: Reiki and Social Wellness Workshops.


    Youth Job Connect participants showing off their Workplace Math Course certificates.

    • Action Read provides assessment and training support to Lutherwood’s and Second Chance’s Youth Job Connect program.


    Sign being installed at new location April 2017.

    • April 2017 – What goes around, comes around: Action Read moves back to Cork Street! Our fantastic new downtown location at 8 Cork Street East has street access, and is close to other service providers such as HOPE House, Lutherwood and the Volunteer Centre.


    • An anonymous donor generously creates the “Action Read Community Literacy Centre of Guelph Fund” held at The Guelph Community Foundation. Every year the original gift will generate interest and income that will be given back to Action Read, FOREVER! Check it out at www.guelphcf.ca!


    Kids holding signs with positive words related to learning.

    • Celebration of National Family Literacy Day at the Children’s Art Factory.
    • Action Read staff member Joanne Morant wins Woman of Distinction award in the Education category.


    • Action Read learner and Board member Colleen Harper (above) wins United Way Campaign Agency Speaker of the Year
    • Launch of Action Read Strategic Plan 2020-2025
    • Centre closed March 2020 due to COVID-19 Pandemic. Online learning programs launched April 2020


    • Launch of numerous new remote learning programs including Rainbow Connections, YouTube video learning, and new Modular Employment Groups. Return to in-person learning, but remote learning still a learning option used by many people.


    Action Read Press Release on the GED Ending in Canada