Elizabeth Dowdeswell
On June 7th, the Her Honour The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell hosted a Willowbank salon at Queens Park. Pictured here is Doug MacKay, Alumnus 2013, who presented Her Honour and each of our panellists with a hand-crafted t-square.

June 2016 – Newsletter

Happy Canada Day!

Wishing everyone a happy July 1 - check out what we got up to in June. 


Ecology Re-imagined: Nature and Culture in Historic Places A Willowbank salon hosted by Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor in Toronto

On the evening of June 7, a cross-section of the Willowbank community was welcomed by Her Honour the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell to Queen’s Park in Toronto. “Ecology Re-imagined: Nature and Culture in Historic Places” was held to mark Canadian Environment Week, and featured a panel to reflect on Willowbank’s ecological approach to conservation. The panelists were Sophia Rabliauskas of Poplar River First Nation in Manitoba, the Honourable Glen Murray, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, and Willowbank's own Dean of Faculty, Julian Smith. The conversation was moderated by Paul Kennedy, host of CBC Radio’s Ideas, and will be broadcast on national radio across Canada this summer. Her Honour, whose past services includes the roles of Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, set the stage from the podium by underlining the social and cultural dimensions of environmental stewardship, and the significance of human and natural histories in the places we inhabit. Sophia Rabliauskas, an advocate for the recognition and protection of ᐱᒪᒋᐅᐃᐧᓂᐊᑭ (Pimachiowin Aki) as a World Heritage Site and UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, spoke of how cultural heritage is bound up and closely tied to the land, and how the protection of the 43,000 square kilometres of Boreal forest that form the traditional Ojibwe lands of many First Nations will ensure this cultural heritage can be passed on to future generations. Julian Smith, one of Canada’s most renowned heritage practitioners, spoke of how historic places are gateways for understanding our shared histories. Julian spoke of his work on Canada’s Vimy Memorial, and how its restoration was shaped by the voices of our public historians –writers, poets and artists– as well as by the contributions of skilled craftspeople. Glen Murray spoke candidly about his time as mayor of Winnipeg, and the way our urban sustainability is connected to an understanding of how communities are rooted in the materiality of their environments – whether through buildings or cultural landscapes. He also underscored the value of indigenous perspectives as integral to our more sustainable future. The on-stage conversation was followed by many more during a reception for the audience of sustainability, culture and design sector leaders, including Sophie Kiwala, Parliamentary Assistant to Ontario’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport; Juan Alsace, Consul General of the United States in Toronto; and, Henry Kim, Director and CEO of the Aga Khan Museum. Willowbank is grateful to the partners and supporters who made the evening possible, including the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, CBC Radio One, the Printing House, the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council, Reif Estate Winery, the Canadian Club of Toronto and Douglas MacKay. We also express our gratitude to those who envisioned and helped to create this programme, including Nigel Molaro, Adam Martens, Julian Smith and Lisa Prosper.

Summer Garden Workshops Funded by the Niagara Community Foundation

Through the Willowbank Centre we are pleased to be presenting a series of free garden and landscape workshops which have been generously funded by the Niagara Community Foundation. So far, we have been pleased to welcome our friends from the indigenous community back to the community garden for the summer. The garden was tilled in May and planted in early June after a blessing and opening of the garden was undertaken by Elder Jan Longboat, who brought her traditional wisdom on seeds and planting to a group of over 30 attendees. Just this past Tuesday June 27th, we welcomed George Scott from The Niagara Beeway, who described the dangers of neonicotinoids for our pollinating friends and the great mitigating steps that the Niagara Beeway has been able to undertake to help save our remaining Niagara bee population. Next week on July 5th at 7pm, we will welcome Kerry Royer from the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, who will discuss habitat restoration and re-naturalization. Stay tuned as we will send out more information on upcoming lectures in August.

Prince’s Foundation for Building Community Summer School Anonymous donor funds two Willowbank positions

Following on the heels of Willowbank signing their Memorandum of Understanding with the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community we were pleased to receive generous funding to send two of our Willowbank community to attend the Prince’s Foundation Summer School again this year. After putting it out to our students and alumni, we were happy to select a current student - Kitty Mahoney (entering her second year at Willowbank) and a 2013 Alumni, Ashleigh Bell. Kitty and Ashleigh will head first to London, to undertake the first week of the program which focuses on drawing and design skills, then will head to Glasgow, Scotland where they will spend their second week exploring traditional crafts skills like plastering, pargetting and thatching, the third week will be spent in Dumfries Scotland where they will participate in a design contest that puts to work the skills learned in the first two weeks of the program. Ashleigh and Kitty will be covering their time at the Summer School through social media and blog posts - so if you don’t already - follow us on Twitter and Facebook and stay tuned for ongoing coverage of their time in the UK.

20th Anniversary of National Aboriginal Day Celebrations at Woodland Cultural Centre

Willowbank’s Crystal Bossio was pleased to attend a celebration of the 20th anniversary of National Aboriginal Day hosted by the Woodland Cultural Centre near Brantford at the invitation of the Lieutenant Governor. The event shed light on both the traumas of the residential school system and the hope for a future defined by a renewed relationship between settler society and indigenous peoples. The programme featured a tour of the former Mohawk Institute residential school, with talks by survivors, access to the Woodland Cultural Centre’s Indigenous Art Gallery, a demonstration of traditional dances by Tribal Vision Dance and the premiere of the new “Chanie Wenjack” Heritage Minute. The day was a moving reminder of our shared history and a celebration of the potential for a brighter shared future, and was attended by many, including: His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston,Governor General of Canada, Her Honour The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, The Honourable David Zimmer, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation for Ontario and Chief Ava Hill, Mohawk, Wolf Clan, Chief of the 56th Elected Council of the Six Nations of the Grand River. Willowbank students became intimately aware of this history when they completed a conservation management plan for the former Mohawk Institute at the Woodland Cultural Centre this past academic year. Willowbank values the incredible knowledge that is gained from indigenous perspectives for heritage conservation in Canada and was pleased to be among those who attended the event at the Woodland Cultural Centre.

Willowbank welcomes Nigel Molaro to the Board of Directors

Nigel Molaro At the May board meeting, the Willowbank Board of Directors moved to accept Nigel Molaro  as its newest board member. Nigel, is a 2015 graduate of the Willowbank Heritage Conservation program, and is currently located in Ottawa. Nigel is an emerging conservation practitioner working to renew places of cultural significance, expanding on his career in the public realm. He has participated in projects in Halifax, Kingston, Niagara and Canada’s capital region, including crafting a vision for the rehabilitation of Canada’s Parliament, under both WMTA and Julian Smith & Associates Architects. He has worked at the highest levels of government, including designing the place-based programming of Canada’s prime minister across Canada and worldwide. At Navigator, a public strategy practice at the intersection of business, government and nonprofits in Toronto, Nigel managed community files including the country's leading public affairs podium and a building campaign for an HIV/AIDS hospice. In addition to his Willowbank diploma, he holds a communications degree and has undertaken short-term language and conservation studies overseas. He is a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, and recipient of the Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and Commemorative Medal for the Centennial of Saskatchewan, his native province.

Infrastructure Upgrades - UPDATE Waterline installed and house prepped for infrastructure upgradesHorseshoe

We are happy to announce that the upgraded waterline has now been installed at Willowbank, and will be tested and hooked up in the coming weeks. This work is part of our infrastructure upgrade plan to bring a full fire suppression system into the Willowbank building - which will allow the space to be offered as a venue space in the coming years. Willowbank is a protected property under Ontario Heritage Trust Easement and many significant archaeological clusters have been found on the estate grounds, as such we welcomed ARA Archaeology to the site to monitor the trenching as we laid out the new water pipes. After a surprise discovery of the septic field’s location, we rerouted our lines and followed the driveway to the house. No significant archaeological finds occurred, as much of the area excavated had been previously disturbed but some pottery fragments were uncovered and in what we are taking as good omens for the work as it moves ahead, a lucky horseshoe was uncovered! Many thanks to the crew at Cotton Construction for their great ongoing work, to the team at Quartek for their design help and to ARA Archaeology for their flexibility. In addition to the water line upgrade, staff are preparing to make the move to the Lower Campus once the work on the house begins in earnest. We've already moved most furniture and files out of the Estate and are now just waiting on our permit approval to begin the interior work - which will include installation of a fire suppression system.

Upcoming Events

  • July 5th - 7pm: NPCA Presents: Habitat Restoration YOU can make a difference! Free Admission! Generously supported by the Niagara Community Foundation.
  • Ongoing to August 26th, 10am-4pm, Monday - Saturday, 5 Walnut St, Queenston, Exhibit - Domestic Gems: The Architecture of Nicholson and Macbeth, free admission - donations appreciated!
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