Pandemic, COVID 19, novel corona virus, respirators, PPE, lockdown, self-isolation, hand washing protocol … everyday words now in spring 2020.
These days I reach out and grab hold of any moment of intimacy – no matter how small – because this pandemic has not changed the fact that our lives on earth are fully intertwined.
Staying at home rubs agains the grain. We want to bust out – spend time with friends on the patio; make a special dinner for our kids; get in the car and drive 10 hours to sleep in the guest room; hug our special people.
When my wife suggested I make a video about the daily pot-banging ritual on our street, I thought it would be a balm for my mind rubbed raw by the day-to-day, but it became much more. Each evening as I made my way to the front yard of a neighbour’s house to safely set up my gear, a new perspective was revealed. Each household drew from their life experiences to infuse the daily ritual with their unique meaning, the meaning passed from person to person and then united in the clanging. I felt a closeness to humanity I hadn’t experienced in weeks.
So, when we raise an arm to bang a pot with a wooden spoon, wave to an neighbour or blow kisses to the camera with our 3-year-old we tug on the threads connecting us – one to the other.
We are not only honouring the frontline and essential workers who risk there lives daily to keep us safe and care for the sick, but we are also remembering the importance of caring for each other.
If you like this video I urge you to seek out opportunities in your own community to connect safely and care for others. The story of our lives unfolds moment by moment. Each choice we make echoes around the world.
My mother loved animals and she loved looking after them.
When I was growing up we had cats, turtles, dogs and backyard-chickens. After my sibs and I left home, weekend visits included a tour of her menagerie: canaries, budgies, rabbits, and fish, but it was her dog that always gave her the most joy and companionship.
One of the hardest moments for her was when she had to give up her beloved Katie, a loving, well-mannered miniature poodle she had trained from puppyhood. A stroke and other health problem made it impossible for mom to care for Katie.
But my mom was lucky. Her brother willingly took Katie into his home where she was well cared for, but this came with a price. Her brother lived hours away and mom rarely got to see her longtime companion and I now believe suffered because of it.
While researching my most recent documentary project – “Dog’s Best Friend”, a 5-part series for BellMedia’s FIBE TV1 community channel – it became clear that pet ownership improves your physical and mental health. 41% of Canadian household include at least one dog; 37% include at least one cat.
Research shows living with a dog (or cat) lowers your stress, reduces your risk of depression and increases your physical and social activity.
I also came across Elder Dog Canada an organization that’s all about helping older people – like my mom and older dogs like Katie – maintain their relationship as long as possible..
Elder Dog Canada was founded by Dr. Adra Cole. Its values and programming draw heavily on Dr. Cole’s work with research partner Dr. Maura McIntyre.
Excerpts from its website explain:
“Our mission at ElderDog is to honour and preserve the human-animal bond through care, companionship, commemoration, and education.”
“Their research projects – including: Living and Dying with Dignity; Putting Care on the Map: Portraits of Care and Caregiving across Canada; and The Care Café: Understanding Caregiving and Alzheimer Disease across Canada – formed, in part, a foundation for Ardra’s thinking about the crucial importance of honouring the animal-human bond in the lives of aging people.”
I also discovered there are chapters – or “pawds” as the organization calls them – across the country; all run by volunteers. And the pawds closest to me in Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, Milton were holding a fall fashion show and fundraiser complete with doggie models at the Aberfoyle Community Centre.
I’m not one for dressing up dogs unless it’s for protection from the weather, but a whole event devoted to fashions for dogs, with the funds raised going to Elder Dog … how could I resist.
I packed up my gear and headed to Aberfoyle, a 30 minute drive from my house. The video above is what resulted. Please enjoy and consider supporting Elder Dog Canada.
In the late 1960s, the City of Kitchener made a deal with the Kitchener-Waterloo Record – an exchange … some property in downtown Kitchener for a chunk of land on Fairway Rd. across from Fairview shopping mall.
Former president of the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, Paul Motz called it “the middle of nowhere.”
The deal was made under the condition that the Record build on the site right way.
Architect, John Lingwood was commissioned by the Motz Family to design and build a new production/office facility for its chain of community weekly newspaper and the Fairway Press building was created.
(You can find out the details at the premiere of “Finding John Lingwood” my documentary about the modernist architect. Details to be announced soon.)
In the late 1990’s after many changes in weekly newspapers ownership or the closing of some, the site was sold to make way for the Best Buy store that now sits on the property.
But, the story of the building doesn’t end there … with demolition.
The building was constructed of prefabricated panels bolted to a steel frame; so, it was sold the Marsland Centre Ltd. of Waterloo, disassembled and moved to 101 Randall Drive, Waterloo where it stands today.
I’ve gathered at least 20 hours worth of interviews, additional hours of location video and 100s of photographs for my film “Finding John Lingwood.” The finished film … 55 minutes.
A mountain of information to work with and a lot left on the cutting room floor. It’s not quote as bad as you might think – logging all those clips, assessing their relevance and selecting the ones you think might be part of your story.
Not every word or thought an interview subject utters is compelling or fundamental to your narrative, not every photograph adds to the complexity of a scene.
The person whose backstory tugs at your heart strings;
The interview filled with clever turns of phrase;
The beautifully lit locations
Moments when you laugh or cry or scratch your head
The “darlings” I call them – these stand out in your mind as you begin to stitch together your story. The more you are play the clip the more it calls out to be included. Intimacy clouds your judgement.
So, it is no surprise there comes a time in the editing process when you must cut your darlings to honour the story.
But, once a darling always … well you know how that goes.
I thought you might like to meet some of my darlings.
As you wait patiently for the premiere of “Finding John Lingwood” later this year, I will – from time to time – be posting some the compelling moments that ended up on the digital trash heap.
First up, this clip from my interview with Eric Haldenby, professor and former director of the Waterloo School of Architecture. Here he talks about Lingwood’s command of the principals modernist design and his work on the home he created for Dr. Roy Howarth and his family in 1957.
I found this photograph while researching my current film project – “Finding John Lingwood” – at the University of Waterloo Library Special Collections and Archives.
It’s actually a black and white copy of the a colour photography Personal Studios’ Bob Nicol made for John Lingwood, a modernist architect who practised in Kitchener 1955 – 1996.
The photo has been taped down to table top and we can see a bit of the photographer’s shoe in the upper lefthand corner of the frame.
I’ve been researching and filming for the past year to piece together a story about one of the Regions leading mid-century architects. Lingwood, along with six other firms, created the rich stock of modernist buildings that give Waterloo Region its distinct built environment.
I believe this house, that makes good use of John’s favour materials – stone and wood – is among his works and still stands somewhere in the Region.
I’d love to hear from its owner or someone who knows its owner or location. I’m sure there is someone out there who recognizes this place.
I was happy to see in a recent article in the Region of Waterloo Record that the Region of Waterloo is interested in the former provincial courthouse at 200 Frederick St. Kitchener as a potential location for more regional government offices.
The Region of Waterloo will renovate the courthouse to become the new Kitchener detachment HQ for the Waterloo Region Police Forces. Click on the photo below to read the article in the Waterloo Region Record.
I’ve always had a warm spot for the building despite it’s brooding look and concrete boxes stacked in a seemly arbitrary design. However, the cane-shaped covered ramp on its north side delights me everytime I see it. It invites you on an adventure and indeed, as you reach the top of the ramp, it opens on an expansive hidden courtyard. Sadly, one that was not likely use during its days as a courthouse.
There’s an unexpected calmness that overtakes you when you get close to this building. Unlike many courthouses, there’s nothing monumental about it – it’s low-slung, understated.
The red, gold and brown hints in the textured concrete echo the red and yellow clay brick that is a common building material in the neighbourhood and the region. The approach to the entrance plaza rises gently from the street, contrasting the life-altering decisions that were made within its walls.
A half block north of the site at 226 Frederick St. sits a “Frankenhouse” – a building transformed by roguish ideas of design. A red Japanese-influenced roof line perched atop a yellow brick, Victorian-era house is enough to drive any heritage buff to distraction. Perhaps not surprisingly, this was the place where the concrete courthouse plot was hatched, here in the former office of modernist architect, John Lingwood.
Both buildings, office and courthouse, reflect Lingwood’s evolution as an architect. Here in this office, Lingwood held “Champagne Fridays” where his staff would get together, post there work on the walls and discuss it over a glass of “champagne” (usually sparkling Ontario wine, not the good stuff). John Lingwood willingly embraced change throughout his career. From his graduation from the University of Manitoba in 1949, to the beginning of his Kitchener practice in 1955, to his last building – the TD bank at the corner of Francis and King St., Kitchener – in the early 1990s, he sought new expressions in design.
The courthouse was one of two prominent Waterloo Region buildings he created in the unfortunately-named brutalist style, the other being the Frank C. Peters Professional Building on the Wilfrid Laurier University campus, near the corner of Albert St. and University Ave.
In his mid-career work from the 1960s and 70s Lingwood seemed to straddle the modernist schools of internationalism and brutalism, applying each in measured quantities to suit the job at hand.
His elegant Carmel New Church and School in south west Kitchener definitely leans toward the international style, while the now-demolished Kitchener-Waterloo Record building reflected the monumental qualities of brutalism with its tall precast concrete columns that suggested an old fashioned typewriter key about to strike the page.
The Courthouse appears on Lingwood’s project list in 1975; its corner stone reads 1977. It closed when the Waterloo Regional Courthouse, at the corner of the Frederick and Duke St., opened in the spring of 2013. Infrastructure Ontario recently declared the old courthouse redundant and has offered it for sale to other levels of government.
According to an article in the Waterloo Region Record, the Region is considering buying the old courthouse to expand its office space. In the Opinion section for the same date the Record suggested the building would be a bad deal for the Region, citing the age and cost of the renovation. Sadly, this measure of age and cost is at the heart of many bad decisions to demolish or to build over culturally important buildings in the region. The same appetite for new ideas and innovation that fostered the wealth of modernist buildings in the region is the same appetite that could lead to their demise.
Brutalist buildings such as 200 Frederick don’t endear themselves to the public – they are not pretty. And, 200 Frederick St. happens to be saddled with one of the most controversial pieces of public art in the region – “Aporia” by artist is Ed Zelenak was commissioned by the province in 1978.
Both these are important pieces of our built heritage. Architect Lingwood has shown, with this building and others, the region’s embrace of experimentation in design and artist Zelenak has given us a sculpture that has confounded generations.
In these early decades of the 21st century, preserving these pieces of our heritage from the mid-20th century is no less important than guarding the 19th century heritage of Victoria Park.
Watch for my up coming film “Finding John Lingwood” to learn more about the man and his contribution to the buildings of Waterloo Region.