Fall is in the air…

September and October have just flown by. The air is now crisp and the leaves are turning - its a beautiful time of year to be in Niagara. We've had a full schedule here in Queenston: we've welcomed our 10th incoming class and the students have been hard at work learning new skills and approaches to heritage conservation.  ~ Cheers - Willowbank
1st Year Students (future class of 2018!) built a drystone wall with Instructor Dean McLellan at the Woodbourne Inn in St. David's, who've generously partnered with us to house our visiting faculty. The stone was generously donated by the Upper Canada Stone Company.

Stone, stone, stone! 

Our first few months have been packed with classes on masonry and stone. First year classes have included: an Introduction to the Geology of Niagara about the types of stone typically used in local buildings, a week of dry stone walling (image above) and another week of stone carving, (image below). Third year students, who returned to Willowbank for the month of September, also participated in a stone letter carving class with Tracy Mahaffey, a talented stone carver from Rhode Island.
1st years spent a week working with world-renowned master stone carver Nicholas Fairplay. The resulting carvings were spectacular. Special thanks to Traditional Cut Stone for the donation of the limestone for this class.

Conservation Management Plans

Our second year students have taken on three significant sites for their Conservation Management Plans this year. The groups have begun to assess, research and document, the Cave Springs Conservation Area in Lincoln, which includes natural, built and cultural heritage features; the East Seneca United Church, a fine example of a Regency Gothic church in Haldimand County, dating from 1863, and; the Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford, a former residential school that is seeking National Historic Site designation, and recognition of it's Mohawk Institute as Canada's first Museum of Conscience.

Traditional Lime Burn

First and second year students both participated in a traditional lime burn with instructor Keith Blades. Using Decew limestone from the Queenston Quarry, students fired the limestone at high temperature, all of one day and well into the night. The resulting quicklime was slaked and mixed into different mortars. The students have since been tasked with monitoring the slow cure of the mortar samples, which will be tested in the new year for compression strength.

Allbäck Paint Demonstration

Willowbank welcomed the public for a demonstration from John and Michael from Living Rooms on Allbäck Paint applications. Allbäck paint is a linseed oil-based paint from Sweden that is great for heritage projects and a favourite product of Willowbank alumni.

Native Species Identification with the NPCA

As part of our continuing partnership with the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA), students and members of the NPCA did a native species identification, labelling and garden maintenance workshop at the beginning of October at the lower campus.

Third Year Internships

After returning to Willowbank for the month of September, our third year students have gone forth into the world of heritage to begin their internships in the following areas: UNESCO world heritage internship in Paris, heritage home restoration, project management intern, carpentry and wooden window restoration, plastering internship, planning assistant to Glen Murray MPP, freelance masonry and wood conservation, documentation and restoration work for the Balfour House, Hamilton, ON.

Spotlight on Alumni: Julianna Riolino

Congratulations to alumni Julianna Riolino, who has received the Fogolar-Furlan Scholarship to study at the Scuola Mosaicisti Del Friuli in Spilimbergo, Italy. Julianna, class of 2014, has spent her the last two years, working on historic finishes with Willowbank instructor Lori Lemare, and working with John Wilcox at Vitreous Glassworks on stained glass restorations. Julianna will travel to Northern Italy for two weeks in November to participate in a mosaics course. She will be one of only two Canadians who have been admitted into the course. Upon her return, she will rejoin Vitreous Glassworks to continue working on the stained glass restoration at St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto.

Willowbank Crowdfunds with the National Trust for Canada's THIS PLACE MATTERS

Willowbank has joined the crowdfunding site THIS PLACE MATTERS hosted by the National Trust for Canada - a website that aims to help community organizations raise the money they need for the places that matter most to them. Our project for the crowdfunding campaign focuses on the restoration of the Bright Parlour's cornice and ceiling. We hope to raise $20,000.00 in four months towards our goal, with the added bonus that RBC has announced that they will match 50 cents on each dollar raised. As we ramp up our efforts to work on the building's systems in 2016, we are excited to look a little further ahead towards the restoration of this beautiful room.


  • Blacksmithing Workshop with Lloyd Johnston and Lisa Langdon - October 31st, 2015
  • Alumni and Student Mixer - November 6th, 2015
  • Dean of Faculty, Julian Smith speaks at the ICOMOS Australia 2015 conference on November 6th, and at the ICOMOS India 2015 conference on November 28th.
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