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Elizabeth Dowdeswell

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!
DONATE NOW
Prince Charles and Sahra Campbell

May 2016 – Newsletter



Summer Tidings

We've got big plans for the summer season, we'll be building on our relationship with the Prince's Foundation for Building Community, we'll be hosting an exhibit in conjunction with the Niagara Society of Architects and we are launching a Docent Program!


Willowbank signs Agreement with The Prince's Foundation for Building Community

At the beginning of May, Willowbank was pleased to announce the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community, a non-profit organization in the United Kingdom which has been teaching and demonstrating sustainable development through community engagement, as well as providing training in traditional building skills for over 20 years. The charity was founded by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, Patron of Willowbank. The agreement with The Prince’s Foundation outlines the common goals of both institutions through education and training programmes which transform lives by building resilient communities. Both organizations promote ecological and integrated approaches to design and development that are based on traditional knowledge, innovative sustainable building techniques and best practices in urban design, architecture, planning and construction. The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community runs several courses that aim to address the growing lack of craftspeople skilled in traditional building crafts. Their education work focuses as well on sustainable planning skills, offering both an MA and an MSc in these areas. Both institutions have agreed to collaborate on research and projects and exchange students, faculty and alumni when possible. “This collaboration with the Prince’s established initiative is the perfect opportunity to strengthen our approaches to fostering resilient communities,” said Vikki Broer, Chair of Willowbank’s Board of Directors, “It enriches Willowbank’s role on the world stage as our school programme is about to mark its first decade.” “We are delighted to announce our collaboration with Willowbank,” said Simon Sadinsky, Head of Education. “We share the same vision ­ of transforming lives by building resilient places – and we hope this relationship will help inspire and develop the next generation of craftspeople, architects and others working in the built environment who will help preserve and shape the beautiful, resilient places of tomorrow.” Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2016, the Willowbank School offers an integrative and innovative three-year Diploma in Heritage Conservation that combines the theory and practice of conservation. Its Centre for Cultural Landscape, which builds on the experience of Canada’s First Nations and rich multi-cultural reality of contemporary Canada, also offers field schools, short courses and public lectures. The Prince of Wales became Willowbank’s Patron in 2014.

The Prince of Wales meets a Willowbank graduate for the first time, at Canada House

The announcement of the MOU between PFBC and Willowbank was made on the same day The Prince of Wales visited Canada House in London, home of the Canadian High Commission in the UK. During the visit, which was organized by The Prince's Charities Canada to highlight His Royal Highness's charitable interests in Canada, The Prince of Wales met Sahra Campbell, a graduate of Willowbank's class of 2015 who is working in the conservation field in London Like other Willowbank graduates finding immediate successes across a range of careers, from skilled trades to design firms to community development, Sahra Campbell has made a successful transition to the conservation of historic materials. As part of her Willowbank internship in the United Kingdom, she headed the documentation team for the restoration of the Temperate House at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the world’s largest surviving glasshouse of its time, and she is currently conserving the Victorian interiors of Delapré Abbey in Northampton.
Shaw Street Collective

Portrait of the Grasslands: The Shaw Street Collective Live in Concert May 29th, 2PM, Bright Parlour

The Willowbank Centre is pleased to present a live concert by The Shaw Street Collective in the Bright Parlour on May 29th at 2PM. The concert, entitled Portrait of the Grasslands was conceptualized during an artist residency in the village of Val Marie, Saskatchewan, which borders the Grasslands National Park – 900 square kilometres of bison, badlands, and breathtaking vastness. It is inhabited by people who understand and love where they live. The Shaw Street Collective, which is based out of Toronto, arrived in the prairies last fall with the expectation of beauty, approaching the community and the landscape as indivisible from one another. By combining their visual and musical experience of this unfamiliar space, they were able to enter into an exploration of what it means to take beauty seriously every day. The fruit of this was Portrait of the Grasslands, a show which they toured at venues across Central Canada on the way back to Ontario. The concert performed at Willowbank will include music by Arvo Pärt, Chick Corea, and others, and will also feature some new material and original arrangements and compositions by the group's members. The Shaw Street Collective is a New Classical ensemble made up of trumpet, trombone, marimba, and cello, and will be performing Portrait of the Grasslands in conjunction with the recent release of their EP, Grasslands. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online or at the door.

Yates Street House Domestic Gems: The Architecture of Nicholson and Macbeth Presented in association with the Niagara Society of Architects

This exhibition celebrates the influence of two prominent St. Catharines Architects, Arthur Edwin Nicholson (1881-1945) and Robert Ian MacBeth (1891-1978), on the built landscape of the Niagara Peninsula. Whether working together as the firm of Nicholson and Macbeth (circa 1918 to 1930) or independently, these two men were responsible for much of the region’s best architecture. In the 1930s A.E. Nicholson was responsible for major alterations to Willowbank for the Bright family and for restoring the home of William Lyon Mackenzie, both in Queenston. Opening reception June 11th 6-9 pm.

Willowbank Summer Docent Program Willowbank is looking for Volunteers!

As a not-for-profit organization and National Historic Site we are looking for individuals who are interested in volunteering their time to help share the story of Willowbank through exhibition tours, archive organization and event assistance. Training sessions will be held on June 6, 13 and 20, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm. Lunch will be provided. Please contact Shelley Glica at 905-262-1239 ext. 24 or at: shelley.glica@willowbank.ca.
Plane and plan

Infrastructure Upgrades - UPDATE

Throughout the summer, we'll be keeping you posted as our infrastructure upgrades progress. We will be upgrading the water and electrical services and increasing the services within the building. Our ultimate goal is to be able to invite our students, and guests to the Willowbank Estate House all year round for special events. Stay tuned for more updates! All upgrades have been generously supported through private donations for this capital project. If you'd like to make a contribution to these capital upgrades please contact our Director of Operations and Capital Projects, Crystal Bossio at crystal.bossio@willowbank.ca or online here.
Upcoming Events
  • May 29th, 2pm, 2016, Bright Parlour, Shaw Street Collective Live In Concert, Portrait of the Grasslands, Featuring music from their new EP Grasslands - Tickets: $20 - available at the door or online.
  • June 6 - August 26th, 10am-4pm, Monday - Saturday, 5 Walnut St, Queenston, Exhibit - Domestic Gems: The Architecture of Nicholson and Macbeth, free admission - donations appreciated!
  • June 6, 13, 20, Docent Training Days, call Shelley Glica at 905-262-1239 ext. 24 to book your training and become a Willowbank Volunteer today!

April 2016 – Newsletter

Graduation 2016
On April 16th Willowbank celebrated it's 8th graduation. Pictured left to right: Dean of Faculty Julian Smith, Angus Affleck, Jeremy Bridge, Leena Ceylan, Theresa Felicetti, Katie Hollingshead, Sherri Koabel, Lita Ratha and MPP Wayne Gates. Congrats Class of 2016!

School's out for Summer

The coming of April has brought the end of another school year, and was marked with great celebrations, fine conversations and a few rounds of farewells. Willowbank wishes all its students a happy summer break!
Class of 2016 Graduation Willowbank welcomed it's 8th graduating class to the ranks of alumni on April 16th, 2016. The beautiful day was accompanied by words of wisdom: MPP Wayne Gates welcomed the class and class representative Sherri Koabel quoted the X-Ambassadors, telling her fellow classmates, "It's our time to make a move; It's our time to make amends; It's our time to break the rules...So let's begin..." This theme was picked up by Dean of Faculty Julian Smith who urged the students to "stand up and make a difference" and to "fight for diversity" stating "you are the generation that is going to make the difference." The graduates were the first class to celebrate their graduation in the Bright Parlour. The ceremony was an intimate gathering of friends and family, who retired to Reif Hall for refreshments before touring the grounds. Willowbank now boasts over 50 graduates, and looks forward to reporting the successes of these new alumni in the years to come.
Elaine O'Sullivan will depart as School's Director in 2016-17 Continues involvement in advisory and teaching rolesElaine O'SullivanWillowbank wishes to announce that Elaine O'Sullivan will be stepping down as Director of School when the new school term begins in September 2016. A passionate advocate for Willowbank's educational programming, Elaine will be assuming her new appointment to the Willowbank Advisory Committee, and will continue to engage its students in a new teaching role as a Faculty Associate. Elaine's involvement with Willowbank began at the Italy Field School in 2013, and ever since, she has helped expand Willowbank's reach in the field of sustainable design. Primed by her graduate work at the Centre of Alternative Technology in Wales, and her experience with natural and historic building practices in Ireland, Germany and Spain, Elaine took on Willowbank's academic programme in summer 2014 having left her native Ireland to pursue a more inter-disciplinary role in the field of heritage. A cornerstone of the educational programming at Willowbank during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years, Elaine looks forward to continuing her engagement in her new advisory and teaching roles. She will remain in her current position on a part-time basis this upcoming summer, as we plan for the 2016-17 school year. A call for applications will be announced in the weeks to come.
Willowbank welcomes guests from Clarence House and The Prince's Charities CanadaJames Furse & Amanda SherringtonOn April 15th, Willowbank staff and students welcomed Clarence House Board Member James Furse and his wife Amanda, as well as Matthew Rowe and Amanda Sherrington from The Prince's Charities in Canada. The Prince's Charities Canada celebrated it's 5 year anniversary earlier in the week, and welcomed the Clarence House Board member and his wife to Canada as part of the anniversary proceedings. Willowbank received the patronage of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales in 2014 and staff and students were happy to welcome their visitors, providing a tour of the grounds, hands-on demonstrations and conversations on the convergence of sustainable contemporary design, heritage places, traditional trades skills with Willowbank's alternative educational model.
Willowbank Centre's Views On A Room Symposium The Willowbank Centre hosted the Views on a Room Heritage Symposium this past weekend on Saturday, April 23rd. The all-day event featured panels on Conservation Philosophy, Interpretive Approaches and Materials and Systems considerations, and centred on a discussion of the Conservation of the Bright Parlour. The keynote address was made by special guest, Franklin Vagnone, Architect and Public Historian, of the blog twistedpreservation.com and former Director of the New York Historic House Trust. Franklin is the co-writer of the best-selling "Anarchist's Guide to Historic House Museums" and his talk did not disappoint. Franklin seeks to shake up the heritage field by refocusing on innovative programming and putting the needs of the local community at the heart of our heritage places. A big thank you to all of those who came out and participated in the event, including our wonderful panellists, our alumni moderators and our incredibly engaged audience. We look forward to building on the panels' discussions on April 30th and May 1st when students from across Canada and the US will gather at Willowbank to participate in a heritage charette on the Conservation of the Bright Parlour. The Symposium and Charette have been generously sponsored by: Heelis, Little and Almas LLP and Quartek Group Inc. While prizes for the Charette have been provided by the National Trust for Canada and the Ontario Heritage Trust.
Recipes and Remedies in Upper Canada by Hannah Peters Jarvis Edited, compiled and published by Dr. Elizabeth Oliver-Malone Remedies in Upper Canada Willowbank proudly announces that the book "Recipes and Remedies in Upper Canada" is now available. The book, compiled and edited by Dr. Elizabeth Oliver-Malone, features the recipes and remedies of Hannah Peters Jarvis, who lived at Willowbank for over 10 years, and was the mother of Hannah Owen Hamilton, the first mistress of Willowbank. Hannah Peters Jarvis, came to Canada - having been born in the United States and spending much of her youth in England - and moved to Newark as part of Governor Simcoe's government in 1792.  The book features recipes gathered between 1780 and the 1830s, and allows great and delightful insights into the life of an 'elite' woman in Upper Canada in the 19th century. Recipes include New York butter biscuits, corn pudding and preserving of meats, salmon and eggs. There are numerous recipes for ale and practical instructions for the making of cement and paint, candles and cosmetics. A pharmacopeia for children and adults, as well as remedies for cows and horses rounds out the offerings. The book was published through Gaspereau Press and is available for sale for the price of $25 (tax included) + shipping and handling, there are limited quantities available.
  All proceeds from sales go to support Willowbank.
Alumni Spotlight: Sahra Campbell, Class of 2015 Sahra Campbell Sahra came to heritage work with a background in fine arts and furniture making and an interest in the conservation of old buildings. Since graduating from Willowbank, her preference for getting her hands dirty has led her more towards site-based conservation work. In the summer leading up to her third year, she interned at Jablonski Building Conservation in New York and worked on several projects including historic paint research at St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto and stone conservation work at Prospect Cemetery in Queens, NY. For her third year she moved to London, England. She spent the first twelve months heading the documentation team for the dismantling and restoration of the Temperate House at Kew Royal Botanic Gardens. During this time she also undertook a chemistry course for conservators, volunteered on other small projects throughout the city and learned gilding and wood carving from some talented carvers who also quickly became good friends. All of this helped her to lay the groundwork to give it a go on her own and she is now working as a freelance conservator. Working freelance has allowed her to move around on a variety of projects and work with many different people in the field, which she feels is invaluable in these early years of her career. She is currently with Hirst Conservation working on the Victorian interiors of Delapre Abbey in Northampton, where the scope of work includes sensitive cleaning, repairing of decorative plaster ceilings and cornices, researching and matching historic paint finishes, gilding and modeling/casting of lost elements. She finds the work very gratifying and is hopeful that these opportunities will continue to grow and come her way while she is in the UK.
Upcoming Events