Stone Conservation Field School Planned

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willowbank stone conservation schoolWillowbank has announced its Stone Conservation Field School at Sainte-Marie Among The Hurons National Historic Site (SMATH). This intensive three week summer school will be held from June 10th to June 30th, 2017.

This opportunity immerses participants 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 re-installation.

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.

The Sainte-Marie Among The Hurons National Historic Site is a complex and multi-layered site, and is a popular provincial run heritage site in Midland, Ontario, near Georgian Bay.

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.

Fees: $3,100 CAD per student/ About $2,480 US. 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. A non-refundable $500 dollar deposit is required with your application.

Entry Requirements: There are no entry requirements in terms of past experience. All are welcome to apply for the program. Students must be 18 years or older. This is an intensive educational experience.

Space is limited. Applications due May 15th. To find out more or to submit your application, contact Nancy Oakley, Director of Education at or call (905) 262-1239 ex. 206.

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