Mystery House Found

Keith Shantz House

The John Lingwood mystery house was tracked down in a matter of hours after my recent post on here and on the Facebook page for my film “Finding John Lingwood“.

It’s perched on the very edge of the city, at 2219 Ottawa St., S. Kitchener at the intersection with Trussler Road. Based on information found in the Lingwood office project list it was commissioned by successful industrialist and owner of Morval-Durafoam Ltd., Keith Shantz in 1967.

Mr. Shantz married Winifred McLaren (nee Fitch) in 1973 – a second marriage for both. They were renowned for their support of the arts as founding supporters of Waterloo’s Clay and Glass Gallery, establishment of the Winifred Shantz Award for Ceramics,
the Keith and Winifred Shantz International Research Scholarship and other important contributions.

The home showcases some of John Lingwood’s favourite materials – field stone and wood. Also in the work, we see his commitment to complementing the terrain. This respect for the physical attributes of the building lot also shows up in the twenty Manchester Road houses that will be featured in the film (due out later this year). All the homes in this group have terraced lots. The houses are carved into the hillside with tall front windows that look out on a wooded conservation area.

Terrain also figures deeply in the Lingwood family cottage on Burnt Island in Georgian Bay – in the selection of the building site and the positioning of the cottage deep in the forest, where chunks of the Canadian Shield actually poke into the interior of the building. In the film, we make a return visit to the cottage with one of John’s daughters, after a 20 year absence.

In the Shantz house we see the influence of the great American modernist architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. The modest entrance is tucked into the back west corner of the house where you anticipate entering the expansive interior, speaks directly to Wright’s thoughts on compression and expansion.

The Wrightian influence is also present in Lingwood’s 1960 commission – the Carmel New Church on Chapel Hill Dr., Kitchener – another site featured in the film. However, he  bring’s his own vision of materials and meaning to this design resulting in a building that show’s John Lingwood at the pinnacle of his architectural mastery and positions Wright’s ideas as sub-text.

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 9.00.29 AM
Google maps areial view shows the extent of the woodlot

The Shantz house and surrounding property were purchased by Stephen Moxey in 2012 after Winifred’s death the same year. Mr. Moxey applied for, and got, a permit from the Region of Waterloo to clear the trees from the lot in 2016. Links to news stories from the Waterloo Region Record  below show how the work progressed.

Aug 3, 2016 – Kitchener property owner wants to clear three hectares of trees 

Aug 10, 2016 – Permit to clear Kitchener woodlot approved by region 

Oct 17, 2016 – Stop-work order issued for tree clearing at Ottawa Street property 

Nov 9, 2016 – Woodlot clearing investigation continues in Kitchener

Mr. Moxey was finally given clearance to proceed.

Keith and Winifred Shantz House

The house now sits on the cleared lot – a little forlorn and worse for wear.

I stopped by recently to let the owner know about “Finding John Lingwood“. I left my contact information with the hope someone would contact me and let me know what plans there are for the house.

Of course demolition is a potential fate for this 50-year-old piece of Waterloo Region’s modernist architecture. It’s not possible to preserve every building from the mid-century nor does every building warrant preservation. However, this house appears to be a significant building in John Lingwood’s body of work and is also deeply connected to the business and cultural life of the community through its former owners.

It would be sad to see it razed.

Project supported by:

Once a darling, always a darling

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. 

But … 

  • 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.

Why I open my heart and head to critiques

I’ve finished the first cut of “Finding John Lingwood” and it’s time to find out if the John Lingwood I’ve come to know resonates with audiences. Over the next month I’ll be screening this version with test audiences to hear what they have to say.

It’s stressful, having your work critiqued, but it’s essential to getting the film ready for a premiere in fall 2018. 

I have had the help of some talented crew members from time-to-time during production, but the micro-budget for this project kept me working in virtual solitude – interviewing, shooting and editing.

Although this suits my nature just fine, this is where problems can start.

No matter how hard you to try to rein in your biases and experiences, their influence creeps into your process, particularly in editing.

You easily become convinced you’ve got it right:

  • The sweet little scene with a subject you’ve really connected with; 
  • The funny moment that makes you laugh each time you see it; 
  • The beautiful drone shot.

They all fight to find their way into your film. As editor you must guard and guide the story, making sure every moment, every cut, every visual advances the narrative. 

The ruthlessness required is simply beyond me.

This is when I depend on members of the test audience. They poke your soft spots, call you back when you wander from the storyline and question every awkward moment. 

Sometimes you just want to bury your head in the sand – pour a glass of wine and ignore the advice. But that is hardly useful. So when I do a screening, I strive to open my heart and head; I take notes; I consider every comment.

For the filmmaker, the challenge is not only to listen, but also to try to understand. Feedback can’t always be taken literally; improvements are often found by changing something other than the specific quibble. 

Here’s the thing: I have never found my work to get worse after a test screening. It has always …  always gotten better.

Not everyone can be part of the test audience so, as a thank you for reading this post, I’ve included a little taste of the first cut of “Finding John Lingwood” – a clip of my work so far on the opening credits.  

I’m hoping to achieve three things:

  • Evoke the period, 1955-1996,
  • Set a tone of the film,
  • Reflect the character of John Lingwood. 

It’ll be hard to judge these criteria without see the entire film, but I would love to hear your thoughts just the same. Please comment below.

Meanwhile, in Waterloo Region lives are changed

As the world continues to swirl about us – political maneuvering, terrorist attacks, climate change – the quiet life in Waterloo Region carries on.  Ignoring the world is not the answer, but it is equally important that we hear and share the stories of how everyday people enrich the life we share here.

I finished producing this short video for House of Friendship last week. It documents the renovation of the agency’s Emergency Food Hamper Program building at 807 Guelph St. I started way back in August 2016, capturing daily time lapse sequences and live video. The real story didn’t emerge until the finally weeks, when we discovered that early in her career, Teresa O’Reilly a project manager for the job, depended on the program to help her make ends meet.

Watch as Teresa tells her story about how the Emergency Food Hamper Program changed her life.


It’s time to pay it forward

The Sisters of FateIt is truly wonderful when fortune smiles on you and the goddesses of fate let out a little more thread. Suddenly you can reach a little further, you are reinvigorated, reconnected – your life takes a turn for the better. A bit Pollyanna I suppose, but this seems to have happened to me more than once in my lifetime. Since shifting focus to my digital storytelling practice in 2010, it seems to have happened to me more frequently.

While I am not sure of the reason for the increased frequency, I am acutely aware of what it has meant to the success of my work. Success, as with all work in the arts, is not measured in dollars and cents, but in the sense of accomplishment – the knowledge your work has touched someone deeply or contributed to a betterment of the world.

I don’t go about my life willy-nilly, at the whim of fortune and fate. In fact, I believe we create opportunity by listening to our hearts, doing the work we are most passionate about, making a sincere effort be the best we can at the work we choose and reaching out to connect to the community around us. These are the broad brush strokes that colour my work; the richness of the colours comes from the depth of the relationships I make.

The partnership I have the Latitudes Storytelling Festival through the Latitudes and Longitudes Digital Storytelling Project is one such enriching experience. Through this collaboration I have conducted a series of community-based digital storytelling workshops in 2011 and 2012 and created Made In Kitchener, an interactive walking tour.

Both projects have allowed me to develop the skills and techniques I’ve applied in my work with community agencies such as House of Friendship, Community Justice Initiative and ArtsSmarts Waterloo Region. More importantly though, I’ve connected with amazing people and we’ve created and shared many stories. It’s, in part because of this I’m able to pursue the work I love – exploring the eternal connection between our stories and the place we call home.

Now, it’s time to pay forward this good fortune and help other explore the thread of life.

Fundraising Workshop March 23

On Saturday, March 23, 2013, I will donate my time to facilitate a one-day digital storytelling workshop in support of Latitudes Storytelling Festival. The theme for the fundraiser is taken from World Storytelling Day 2013 – Fortune and Fate.

The workshop fee is only $75, all of which goes the Festival.

I invite you to join me to share your personal stories and to support this important community organization.

For more details and to register for this event visit the workshop registration page on the Latitudes and Longitudes website.

Two men who help me find the stories at inReach

My Grandfather Oscar

Both my grandfathers were sawyers.

Men who operated the main saw in lumber mills in the 1940s and 50s – a job long ago turned over to machines. Aside from this, they were very different men.
My maternal grandfather, Tom built his own sawmill powered by a diesel engine. Quiet, serious and introverted, he built a successful lumber business. However, he was a man I never seemed to able to get close to. He seem most at home in a dimly lit room with a glass of whiskey.
My paternal grandfather, Oscar worked in one of the last water-powered sawmills in Ontario. He was a gregarious, outgoing man who made a modest living working for others. He played the harmonica, read tea leaves and told stories.
I’m two weeks into a digital storytelling project with inREACH, a youth gang prevention program in Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada. As I work with these young men to help them find their voice and tell their personal stories, I feel a deep connection to Tom and Oscar.
I always ached to understand Tom. I was sure he had much to tell me, but his wealth of life experience remained out of reach. Oscar, on the other hand, showed me how to use the tools in his workshop, read my fortune in tea leaves and told me stories – stories of the lost being found and the found being welcomed home.
I bring the spirit of these two men to the storytelling workshop each week – Tom helps me explore the dimly lit rooms and Oscar helps me find the stories.

Digital storytelling taking root in the community

Back in June 2010 I planted some seeds at the Building Community Narratives Through Multimedia Storytelling one-day digital storytelling workshop I facilitated during the Community Arts Ontario Conference in Kitchener, Ontario.

Five first-time digital storytellers joined me that day to do a storywalk from Victoria to Cedar Street in downtown Kitchener. I’ve put together some of these stories in this short video:

These seeds of a community-based digital storytelling initiative have taken root and are beginning to blossom.

I recently completed a digital storytelling project with House of Friendship (@HOFKW) where four women who found help through the agency’s addictions services told their personal stories about recovery.

The agency’s executive director, John Neufeld (@JohnNeufeld98) is meeting with groups around Waterloo Region to show these stories – Voices from House of Friendship – and raise awareness of House of Friendship’s work

House of Friendship, at least for me, has been a benchmark social service organization in the community. It has great strength in recognizing needs and finding innovative ways to address those needs. Highlighting of these women’s personal, digital stories as part of the agency’s story is just one example.

It was truly a transformational experience to work with these women to find their inner storyteller and help them bring their deeply personal experiences to an audience of engaged listeners.

If you are a member of a group interested in finding out more about House of Friendship’s work in addictions services you can contact them to arrange an information session and a screening of the personal stories of four remarkable and courageous women.