Sunday, June 30, 2013

Some festival pics.

Norman getting to know his students at the beginning of the festival

Kids building with wood stone and bricks.

Faithful walling supporter and journalist Willa Wick joined us for the day

Neil and friends building a festival moongate

First day of Stone Trust's dry stone wall workshop taught by Brian Post.

First day of DSWC of Uk workshop taught by Norman Haddow 

Main Festival gala meal and presentations at the Alton Mill

Towers arches and walls

Beer kindly provided by Stone Hammer

(Doug Bell's harvest table and stone pedestal he built in Guelph at our development called Downey Trail)

Some of the volunteers , wallers, students and instructors.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Festival Gathering Momentum

Walls Without Trowels

Sean Donnelly half way though the DSWA test to obtain his advanced certification building a retaining wall in Alton

My son and amazing chef, Colin Shaw-Rimmington walling with the best of them

Andre and Dan sharing a beer, wearing shirts that celebrate the evolution of walling in Canada

Craig and Randy arrive at the festival to represent Trow and Holden Tools.

Walling in Yoga pants. 

Algonquin Heritage Masonry College student  Marisa helps out doing some hearting.

Menno Braam, who recently obtained his initial DSWA certificate congratulates Sean Donnelly who passed his advanced at the end of yesterday.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Pre-Festival Activity in Alton Ontario

I made a practice 'tower' with dry stone bricks Thursday in preparation for what we will be creating with the kids with wood, bricks and stones. I will be working with kids of all ages building neat stuff during the two days of the Canadian Dry Stone Walling Festival in Alton Ontario (being run by the new DSWAC). Bring your whole family this Saturday and Sunday and build exciting things with us.

Neil Rippingale of the Dry Stone Conservancy is here already helping build features and test wallers and teach students.

The amazing Jane Wooley executive director of the Dry Stone Conservancy is here too.
 She and Neil drove up from Kentucky to be here this weekend.

My good friend Norman Haddow from Scotland has been busy all week giving private instruction to students who can't be here on the weekend, repairing older walls in Alton, getting to know all the town folk and of course moving big rocks into position for the event.

The famous John Bland is here too. Here he is inspecting the various stone material we are working with. 
His wall and arch is nearly completed near Montreal.

At the end of Thursday preparation work for the coming festival, Eric took a lot of us to see the Kerry Landman Memorial Tree he built at Island Lake Park. If you come to Alton you are not far from this amazing feature just outside Orangeville.  It's worth the drive to see it in person.

Info about festival is at

Thursday, June 27, 2013

It all hurts until somebody starts having fun.

We had to claw our way along the hedgerow and retrieve tons of round fieldstone and load it onto the trailer to take to a new job yesterday. It felt like 100 % humidity. It was hot and sticky heavy work. There was poison ivy everywhere. The hawthorn kept scratching our arms and whacking us in the face. The rocks were slippery and awkward. It was late in the afternoon and we were achy and tired. But even with all the hardship, somehow it still seemed like an enjoyable task.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Dry Stone Walling Festival updates

This is one of two very large carved signs that were over the doors of the original commercial stone buildings which stood on the property of what is now this year's dry stone festival site in Alton Ontario. They had been salvaged, forgotten and then rediscovered in a field in Caledon Village and have now been incorporated into the design of the north wall which is being built this week by volunteers with the newly formed Dry Stone Walling Association of Canada prior to the actual festival event  .

Here is the other one.  Nine feet long !

Does anyone have any information about these two companies?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

Can rocks really sing?


This looks like it could be a very cool stone book.

Thanks to Sean Donnelly for this link.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


The sign of a good professional dry stone waller 
is the absence of a sign.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Pulling your own weight

A good helper will always try to pull their own weight, but that may not be enough if it's a 500 pound stone that needs moving.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Preparing for the best.

A lot of planning goes into a walling festival  Festival of Stone

Faithful friends and longtime supporters of walling here in Canada gathered this past weekend and others will be gathering in the next two weeks (from Ontario right across the country, as well as the States, and Britain) to work together in Alton, to prepare to promote and celebrate not just walling, but the whole tradition of cooperation long associated with the craft worldwide. 

These are good people, committed professionals eager to see walling enthusiasts and newcomers alike join forces in a now nation wide organization (a 'Canadian Association' - a legal, 'not for profit', cooperation with board members that were democratically elected, and a mission statement that was carefully crafted to not exclude any important aspects of dry stone walling being established here in Canada ) a body of people who have chosen to circumnavigate all forms of oneupmanship, elitism and negativity - past , present and future .

We are preparing for the best. 

And that means building up and maintaining good relationships (not just walls) as well as a solidly Canadian dry stone wall identity.

Any other agenda would be insane — but then there are 'institutions' if you are looking for that sort of thing.

Shaping and stock-piling the all-important cornerstones.

Setting out the base in order to build together.

Making sure the lines (of communication ) are always in place

Being straight and level with one another

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Goats Do Roam.

After spending all day yesterday building with a great bunch of volunteers (all professional wallers - many of them familiar friends going way back to early days of the DSWAC)  helping out at the first of two pre-build weekends, before the actual 2013 Canadian Dry Stone Festival in Alton on June 29 -30) several of us were invited back to Eric's farm for drinks. On arrival we discovered some of his goats had got loose and were grazing on the blackhouse roof. 

No wonder goats were up there - the blackhouse roof has a delicious looking crop of several varieties of sedum, tall tufts of allium, patches of hen and chicks, a smattering of cactus and some lush garden variety weeds. 

Im just kidding around. We put them up there for a goat-o-op.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The High Standard of Character

Many of the best wallers (like their walls) are exemplary, highly supportive and genuinely gracious. They are not mean spirited or coarse (even if their walls might be 'coursed') 

A well built dry stone wall is not a high maintenance structure. It lasts for years. It doesn't need special attention or cause a lot of trouble. It's just the 'standard' thing you would expect from a wall or a person. It does the job well and leaves other things to sort themselves out over the natural course of time. 

Oh that a waller's talent never exceeded the level of their character. Oh that highly talented wallers conducted themselves with as high a standard and as keen a concern for composure and integrity as their stonework seems to display.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Best stone craftsmen in the world advertising on Facebook

Have you ever seen pictures of the old Scottish/English stone walls? Have you ever wanted to learn the age old craft of dry stone walling? We have a rare opportunity for you to learn from the best stone craftsmen in the world. We will be hosting a dry stone wall course in partnership with Maxwell Stone in Collingwood and Dean McLellan Stonework

The above was posted by someone on Facebook May 8th 2013 which Mary responded to below !

Mary Shaw-Rimmington THAT wall isn't in the UK — it's in Port Hope, Ontario on my property, mainly built by my husband, John Shaw-Rimmington,and appeared in Harrowsmith magazine (2004?) Pleased that you are advertizing the best wallers in the world using an image of my husband's work. 


This photo, taken only yesterday is of that same section of my wall, built nearly ten years ago.

I'm pleased to announce that I too will be teaching a dry stone walling class at William Lyon Mackenzie's (past Prime Minister of Canada) huge country estate Kingsmere near Ottawa the nation's capital on July 27 and 28.

Please think about joining us. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Goodbye Miles

We had to have Miles put down yesterday. I'm taking a break from thinking about stones today to say goodbye to one really fabulous friend and companion. This video was taken overlooking a small brook that ran through the woods behind the vet's office which Miles and I happened to discover while waiting for Maddy and Mary to arrive at the vet's to be there with him at the end. Strangely, Miles would never drink water from a bowl. He only drank from the creek on our property or some natural water source. It was gratifying to see him be able to enjoy one last drink this way, just before he went on his way. We will remember you fondly, Good Buddy.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Dry Stone Walls in Croatia

Lavender Farms

Island in the Adriatic

Most of Croatia is covered in walls like these seen from Google Earth

Presentation by Grga FrangeŇ° on the award winning project "Preserving Dry-Stone Masonry Techniques of the Eastern Adriatic" by 4 Grada Dragodid from Croatia, laureate of European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award 2011 in the category Education, training and awareness-raising. This presentation has been voted as the best formal presentation by the audience at The Best in Heritage conference 2012.

Thanks to Norman Haddow for sending me the link for this conference.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Images for Dutch Invertuals by Bart Hess

The pleasing cellular quality of these photo-manipulated soft focus images I came across by Bart Hass is strangely reminiscent of the cell-like patterns associated with dry stone walls.

What is it about the way living cells and stones merge together?