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School of Restoration Arts in Ontario produces talented craftsman

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The School of Restoration Arts at Willowbank in Queenston, Ontario, Canada, has seen a lot of talents over years, including Walter Furlan, Carolyn Samko and Ashleigh Bell,

The three-year-program began in 2006 and focuses on design, conservation and craft skills. Classes are small and are located at the national historic site, Willowbank mansion, an early-1800s home. In fact, this fall, enrollment reached only 40. But the courses cover everything from masonry and woodworking, to understanding planning acts and the structure of heritage committees.

Julian Smith, Willowbank’s executive director, told he likens to the tradition of the carpenter-architect, or the philosopher-stonemason. Willowbank combines academia with apprenticeship in a way that engages both hands and mind, something Smith thinks we’ve lost. He told that the comprehensive look at restoration can lead grads to careers in construction, planning, government or woodworking. Walter Furlan, who had worked in the industry for 30 years, applied to the school after he was laid off from Union Drawn Steel in 2009. Today, he runs the Walter Furlan Conservation. Furlan, 52, wrote the condition report for Whitehern Historic House, completed specs for colonial buildings in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and now he’s in the process of restoring windows for a mid-1800s-era home on Mary Street. Carolyn Samko, 46, attended the school in 2006 after working as a sales representative for a paint manufacturer. Although the job was sort-of related to her fine arts training, it didn’t engage her creativity. So when Samko decided to change her career path, her passion for historic buildings led her to Willowbank. Samko, these days, is a senior project manager with the City’s heritage facilities and capital planning. Samko has worked on sites including Whitehern, Auchmar, Dundurn Castle and the Hamilton Museum of Steam and Technology.

Written by cabinettrends

September 27, 2013 at 7:00 am

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