Kitchener-Waterloo Record building, designed by John Lingwood, opened in 1973 at 225 Fairway Road South, Kitchener. Building photos courtesy of University of Waterloo, Special Collections & Archives, Kitchener-Waterloo Record Photographic Negative Collection


The first time I set foot in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record building on Fairway Road in 1979, I knew right away something important was going on there.

It was early in my newspapering career and most of the newspaper offices I had know were makeshift affairs or dishevelled versions of their former selves – places where broom closets sometimes masqueraded as darkrooms and reporters worked cheek-by-jowl with advertising sales staff.

For someone as green as a new shoot, entering a purpose-built building felt a little like stepping into a temple. The Kitchener-Waterloo Record was one of the country’s leading daily newspapers, run be people committed to the ideals of journalism.

I ended up spending over 25 years of my working life there. From photographer to website editor, it became my professional home on the inside and an iconic landmark on the outside. Although it’s now demolished, the building will forever loom large in my life.

And now, I stand at the gateway to a new year, 2017. Once again I’m feeling as green as a new shoot and once again I’m remembering the Record building.

af-logo-square-colourI recently received a grant from the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund to support my latest and most ambitious project, “Finding John Lingwood” – a 60-minute documentary film about the life and work of John Lingwood, one of Waterloo Region’s most prolific and influential architects of the mid-20th century. Other supporter of the film include the Grand Valley Society of Architects and WalterFedy. I’m also fortunate to have a network of support for my whole practice that includes numerous agencies and individuals.

The Record was one of many buildings on Lingwood’s project list that included everything from modest homes to churches to university buildings to civic buildings. Starting when he opened his Kitchener practice in 1955, the list shows more than 640 different jobs completed before his death in 1996.

“Finding John Lingwood” is my quest film – a search for essence of this man whose work influenced my life deeply.

Along with the Record building, I will take an in depth look at two other Lingwood sites and the communities that grew up around them:

  • Among his first design projects was 20 modest family homes  build by Freure Homes on the west end of Manchester Road in Kitchener. This was where John Lingwood lived much of his life with his wife, Betty, and children Linda, Wendy, Cameron and Lisa.
  • The building Lingwood is best known in architectural circles for is the the Carmel New Church, 40 Chapel Hill Drive, Kitchener. Although he designed many churches, this one formed the heart of a faith community. Adherents built their homes close by and the neighbourhood of Caryndale was created. The community continues to evolve as people who grew up in there and moved away are now returning to raise their families.

The search is just beginning. Stay tuned to see how the journey unfolds.


4 thoughts on “Finding John Lingwood: The Search Begins

  1. Hi. Just came across your piece on John Lingwood and I am intrigued as my fathers name is/was John Lingwood who died just 5 years ago last Saturday. I would love to know where he originated from and if he has family who we may be related to. Lingwood is not a very common name here in Cork Ireland and there may be no connection but who knows? I am looking forward to maybe getting to view your documentary soon. Best of luck Frank Lingwood

    1. Good to hear from you Frank. The John Lingwood of my film spent most of his early years in Guelph, Ontario where his father was a business executive at Imperial Tobacco. I know the family moved around a bit, but mostly in Canada and perhaps the United States.
      John studied architecture at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg just after WW II. He went to Winnipeg to train as a pilot, but the war ended just as be graduated from flight school.
      After graduating from U of M in 1949 he worked at architectural firms in the United States for a while, but returned to Ontario – to Kitchener where he opened his own practices in 1955.
      I don’t know of any connections to Ireland; however, as you know our roots grow very deep and wide.
      The film will be available online sometime in 2018. I will let you know how you can watch it.
      In the meantime, I’m sending warm thoughts your way as you remember your own John Lingwood.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s