Stone Conservation Field School at SMATH

Stone Conservation forms one of the pillars of a Willowbank education. Immerse yourself in an intensive three week summer school.

Start date: June 10th, 2017

Duration: 3 weeks

Willowbank’s Stone Conservation Field School brings Willowbank’s approach to cultural management off our own national historic site campus and on-site to the Sainte-Marie Among The Hurons (SMATH)  national historic site. A complex and multi-layered site, SMATH is a popular provincial run heritage site in Midland, Ontario.

This unique opportunity immerses you in the ongoing conservation of Ontario’s first European masonry structures - a set of hearths dating from 1639 used by the Jesuit missionaries  who settled and lived among the Huron/Wendat peoples. The hearths sit amongst the reconstructed and reimagined structures of a 17th century mission, which serves to interpret this early contact history.

The three week course will involve all aspects of conservation work, including documentation and recording, installing bracing to restrain unstable masonry, archaeological assessment associated with the conservation work, the preparation and use of traditional lime mortars; the repair of fractured stones and their reinstallation.

Participants will also engage simultaneously with the complex layering of the site through sessions with Willowbank faculty and SMATH staff, as they explore issues of heritage conservation approaches and interpretive approaches ranging from the Huron/Wendat first peoples  and will feature a three day design charette exploring how best to shelter the conserved hearths.



Throughout, the participants will be exposed to sessions from faculty and SMATH staff that chronicles the complex layering associated with the site. This ranges from the Huron/ Wendat, first peoples through the period of the Jesuit mission; the early rediscovery, archaeology and recreation of the site. It also explores the current challenges and issues in the ongoing conservation work, the interpretation and presentation of the site as a whole to the general public. A 3-day design charette is planned to assist SMATH with these latter issues and in particular how the surviving masonry ruins should be interpreted and protected within the overall context of the site.

There will be opportunities to explore the area with planned visits to the adjacent Wye Marsh, the remarkable great lakes SS Keewatin and SMATH’s sister site, Discovery Harbour, which contains structures from the British naval base of 1812 and the newly conserved hull of the Tecumseh in a modern climate controlled environment.

Accommodation for the participants will be in the adjacent Martyr’s Shrine, with a short walk to the site each morning. Breakfast and lunches will be served at the SMATH restaurant, with evening meals, ranging from on-site dinners in recreated Jesuit buildings and Huron long houses to BBQ’s and other venues.



$3,100 CAD per student

A non-refundable $500 dollar deposit is required with your application.

Includes tuition, lodging, most meals and planned extra-curricular events. Travel to the site is not included and is the responsibility of the student. Should you be travelling to the site from an international location, health insurance is recommended. Additional typical site safety equipment will be required and a list will be provided upon acceptance into the field school.


Entry Requirements:

There are no entry requirements in terms of past experience. All are welcome to apply for the programme which will interest archaeologists, conservationists, tradespeople and history buffs alike. Students must be 18 years or older. Please keep in mind that this is an intensive educational experience.

Space is limited! Apply now. Applications due May 15th.

View the Field School Calendar here.

To find out more about the programme, or to submit your application, please contact:

Nancy Oakley, Director of Education, Willowbank E: T: 905-262-1239 ex. 206

Should you wish to submit your application in hard copy, please send it to:

Willowbank 14487 Niagara River Parkway (P.O. Box 212) Queenston, ON,L0S 1L0