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Winter is on its way…

Lloyd Johnston and students
Students gather around Blacksmith Lloyd Johnston during a week long introduction to the fundamentals of blacksmithing.
With this warm fall it is hard to believe that winter is almost here and that the Fall semester is almost over. After three months packed with masonry, carpentry and field trips, the students will be heading home for a well-deserved winter break in December.

Support for the Bright Parlour Plaster Restoration continues to grow!!

We have currently raised $2,840 of our overall goal of $20,000 for our first ever online crowdfunding campaign on The National Trust for Canada’s initiative This Place Matters. A big thank you to everyone who has already donated! At the outset RBC Canada pledged to match 50 cents for every dollar raised and has recently upped the ante - announcing that they will match dollar for dollar the amount raised! We have 88 days left in our campaign - and we hope you’ll help us reach our goal! Visit thisplacematters.ca to support this restoration! As a lead up to this restoration, we hope to hold our Spring Lecture Series and a design charrette in April and May 2016, which will focus on just what the restoration of the Bright Parlour will look like - we will announce lecturers as they are confirmed - keep apprised of all of our upcoming events through this website.

Alumni and Student Mixer

At Willowbank we are appreciative of our larger alumni network - and this past month we held an alumni and student mixer to help introduce our current student body to our amazing and successful alumni. We had a great turnout and students got to hear about the successes of our alumni and the impact they are making in the heritage field.  Thank you to everyone who contributed food for this great event!


First year students spent a week learning the fundamentals of blacksmithing and as part of our mandate to foster public education on traditional skills, Willowbank held a public blacksmithing workshop on October 31st with Lloyd Johnston and Lisa Langdon at our lower campus. The workshop was a hit; the class focused on the philosophy and basics of blacksmithing and drew participants from the Niagara area and Toronto.

Grimsby Beach Field Trip

Our students are lucky to have great instructors who work in the field - and are often taken out onto job sites, historic buildings, and exciting neighbourhoods to witness heritage in action. Second year students were able to visit the Grimsby Beach neighbourhood with Willowbank faculty associate and Grimsby planner, Michael Seaman for a tour of the colourful neighbourhood. Students heard about the history of this former Methodist campground from a local historian and were able to discuss the planning tools that could be used to ensure the waterfront neighbourhood’s protection and evolution. Fun facts: Like the Niagara-On-The-Lake Chautauqua neighbourhood and Chautauqua, New York, Grimsby Beach is characterized by the small tent lot sizes, narrow roadways and campground feel unique to these wonderful sites. The Grimsby Beach site was the first of these Methodist campgrounds and features a grove of designated trees from the original campground.

Centre Director Lisa Prosper presents at Cultural Heritage Symposium

Joining esteemed panellists from across the heritage field, including architects, planners, archaeologists, curators and authors, Centre Director, and Faculty Associate, Lisa Prosper presented on the Cultural Landscapes panel.  Lisa spoke to the ecology of place that is fostered when a cultural landscape approach is taken in assessing our heritage places, stating: "Rather than limiting our understanding of cultural heritage to discrete tangible heritage resources, what if we also thought of cultural heritage as the everyday ecology of places that is the amalgamation of all that we do in places, how places look and feel, the complex history of places, the economy of places and the representation of places understood in relation to the physical features, or absence of features, both natural and man made in a given geographical area. Cultural landscapes provide this conceptual framework for understanding the ecology of places as an integrated whole." - Lisa Prosper The Ontario Heritage Trust's Cultural Heritage Symposium was held to help inform the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport's Culture Strategy. The public has until December 8th to comment on the new strategy - you can add your voice at ontario.ca.

Annual General Meeting of the Willowbank Board of Directors

On November 20th, 2015 the Willowbank Board of Directors met for the Willowbank Annual General Meeting. Willowbank is happy to announce that Vikki Broer has accepted the position of Chair of the Willowbank Board of Directors! Willowbank thanks our outgoing Board President Dr. Christina Cameron for her time spent leading the board. Willowbank also extends many thanks to the following outgoing board directors: George Dark, Richard Moorhouse, Donna Scott, Robert Skerker, Sandy Smallwood and Chris Wiebe. As part of conforming to new non-profit legislation in Ontario, our Board of Directors will now consist of a maximum of 11 directors that will be supplemented by advisory committees. Willowbank welcomes its new Board of Directors: Stephen Bedford (Secretary), Emily Bright, Vikki Broer (Chair), Clinton Brown, Elaine Eigl, Michael Howe (Treasurer), Patrick Little, Dr. Elizabeth Oliver-Malone, Brad Nixon, Frank Racioppo.

Spotlight on Alumni

As part of our continuing feature on graduates this month we introduce you to: Elaine Eigl (Class of 2010). Elaine currently works for the City of Mississauga as a Heritage Coordinator - a position that came out of her membership with the City's Municipal Heritage Committee. In her role Elaine undertakes research in support of heritage designations, ultimately helping to write designation by-laws and cultural heritage assessments. She is currently working on her first Heritage Conservation Easement Agreement - a project that encapsulates the Willowbank approach to facilitating heritage conversations - as Elaine helps to mediate the voices of many City departments from Planning to Parks, and Legal to Real Estate. Elaine has sat on the Willowbank Board for the past 3 years. She was the first Alumni to sit on the board and has sat as the Chair of the Capital Advisory Committee. She is also an active member of the Mississauga South Historical Society and Heritage Mississauga.

Willowbank Hoodies and Toques - On sale now!

Haven't started your holiday shopping yet? Look no further! On sale now our Willowbank Hoodies and Toques are the perfect gift for all your family and friends (and maybe yourself, too!). Hoodies: blue with white lettering, available in unisex sizing: S - XL. Available with embroidered lettering = $60; or with printed lettering = $40. Toques: blue with white lettering, one size = $15. Give us a call at (905) 262-1239 to reserve your size - they will be available for pick up on and after December 3rd. hoodietoque


December 3, 2015, 6-7PM - "Build or Rebuild: Transformative Change by Design" - A public Lecture with Jean Carroon - Tickets are $25 and space is limited. Jean Carroon is a Willowbank faculty associate and Principal of Design, Preservation and Sustainability at Goody Clancy Architects in Boston. Her innovative book - Sustainable Preservation: Greening Existing Buildings was published in 2010. DONATE NOW

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.

School is back in session!

Prince of Wales Summer School Elaine O'Sullivan, Director of School Program, (centre) sketching in the London Borough of Hackney as part of The Prince's Foundation for Building Community summer program. We've had an eventful summer at Willowbank and we are happy to welcome our students back to the three year diploma program in Heritage Conservation. Check out some of the great things our staff and students have gotten up to this summer! ~ Cheers - Willowbank

Lieutenant Governor of Ontario’s Visit to Campus

On June 10th, 2015, Willowbank welcomed Her Honour, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, the 29th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario to the campus, where Her Honour participated in a roundtable discussion with students and staff. Her Honour, whose own initiatives have integrated environmental, economic, social, educational and cultural concerns was given a full tour of the campus and engaged with students who gave demonstrations in the trades and spoke of Willowbanks ecological approach to heritage sites.

Prince of Wales’ Royal Patronage

The school is entering into its second year under Royal Patronage. In 2014, The Prince of Wales announced his patronage for Willowbank. This patronage has allowed Willowbank to explore amazing opportunities, as the schools’ goals to explore sustainable urban development and traditional trades skills are well-aligned with The Prince’s own initiatives that include The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community and The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts. This summer, David Deo, Class of 2015, and Elaine O’Sullivan, Director of Academic Programming at Willowbank, travelled to Dumfries, Scotland, UK, to participate in The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community summer program. David and Elaine participated in design contests and were both part of winning design teams. The winning designs were selected by the stakeholders who included the CEO of Dumfries House, architect Keith Ross, the Estate manager and HRH The Prince of Wales. Of his time in Scotland, David Deo stated, “We discovered many philosophical similarities between The Prince's Foundation and Willowbank, and we're striving toward many of the same goals.”

Willowbank 12th Annual Jazz Festival

Students, staff and a dedicated volunteer force hosted the annual Willowbank Jazz Festival on the grounds of the Riverbend Inn and Vineyard in Niagara-On-The-Lake. Despite some rain, the music played and the people came. This year's event featured award-winning Toronto-based jazz musician Tyler Yarema as well as quality local food and wine, and a silent auction. All of this benefits the school’s program and we are very thankful for the volunteer team, led by Pat Lamb, who puts it all together every year.

Susan Buggey Cultural Landscape Fellow

Juliana Glassco, a current third year student at Willowbank and the 2014 Willowbank Susan Buggey Cultural Landscape Fellow, celebrated the publication of an article in the June 2015 Timber Framer’s Guild Quarterly Journal, entitled “Symbolism and Ritual in Compagnonnage.” The article focused on the importance and relevance of studying the trades. Juliana will intern this coming year at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France.

The Willowbank Centre

The Willowbank Centre, which focuses on the research and promotion of Cultural Landscape theory, has spent the summer conducting a North American regional survey, in order to inform the UNESCO ‘Global report on the Role of Culture and Heritage in Sustainable Urban Development.” This report will contribute to the development of the New Urban Agenda which will be endorsed at the Habitat III Conference, in Quito Ecuador, October 17-20, 2016.

The Willowbank Estate

This summer Willowbank partnered with the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) and the Niagara-On-The-Lake Horticultural Society to enhance the natural landscape of its 13 acre estate and lower campus. Located at the base of the escarpment and abutting the Niagara River in Queenston Ontario, Willowbank’s campus which includes a biodiverse ravine, represents an important ecosystem. Students worked to reintroduce native species gardens and solitary bee stations, as part of the larger goal of partnering with local organizations to align cultural and natural heritage interpretation. Students also partnered with local community members to create a medicine wheel in a community healing garden that has the aim of reconnecting the aboriginal and contemporary layers that exist in the prominent historic site.

An Exciting Year Ahead...

In the upcoming months, Willowbank is set to release its 2014-15 Annual Report and in 2016 will begin its 10th anniversary year and its second year under the Prince’s Royal Patronage. This upcoming year will see a major investment in infrastructure projects at the Willowbank Estate House, all sparked by the reengagement of one of the founding donors and with the continued support of our generous community of donors. DONATE NOW