DSWAC Comments

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Peter M.

Hey John
I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed myself on the Kingsmere course and how
much I learned. I was apprehensive at first because I felt as though the
type of stone we were going to use would not apply to the type of work I
would like to do. My fears were for naught. When I saw the rubble that we
had to work with I knew that I was in the right place. I have taken a few courses in my time and I can say that this was the best,
in terms of immediate and long term application . You have an easy going
style and are able to convey concrete and esoteric concepts in an accessible
way. I would like to do more work with you and am willing to volunteer for
any projects you have coming up, but more importantly I now have the skills to
go ahead with many projects that I have had on the go for some time.

It is difficult to express the relationship that I have with stone. I grew
up in northern England and went to prep school in Scotland. I watched my
grandmother gap fences on her farm and build walls in her courtyard. These
of course are childhood memories and there has been a good deal of change
in my life since then. I feel as if the stone could set me free if I would let it. I have on the
one side the pull of creativity and on the other the weight of logic and
pragmatism. I had thought that being a chef would be able to blend the two,
but have found that I have wanted to leave a more lasting legacy (beyond
the toilet as it were). I believe in responding to the environment which is in part
what I have done as a chef but there is something more primal and
lasting in organizing the bones of the the earth than the fruit. Stone it
does not seem is as subject to fad. After having been in the business for the past 18 years I am
increasingly gravitating to to the built environment as apposed to the
consumable one. Having said that I understand that it is all set on a
temporal scale and that ultimately it is all folly.
But alas my ego prevails.
Cheers Peter

Scott Cluett

Hello John and company,

Just a short note to say thanks for an amazing weekend learning dry stone walling. The location (Kingsmere) was fantastic, and both Cindy and I now understand how to build walls properly. I've read books on the subject, but really nothing beats hands-on experience working alongside someone who is an expert at the craft. Well worth the time and money.


Gerry from Buffalo

Hi John: I'm presently reading "A Guide to Dry Stone Walling" by Andy
Radford. The question I have is, the walls shown in the book seem to have
more rough/jagged edges, as opposed to the walls that you build which have
a clean look, and seem more like works of art. As these are working walls,
and not so much for show, is this by design to cause discomfort to the
animals in order to discourage them from coming in contact, with them and
therefore extending the lives of the walls. Thanks for your input and sharing your expertise.
Wall on


Good question. I am familiar with that book and have wondered the same thing. In general the photos in the book do not reflect a high quality of workmanship and it suprises me that they were put in the book. Walls don't need to be works of art, but they do need to stay together and shouldn't have huge running joins and precariously placed stones. A wall's life is extended by building it to stand up to the kind of abuse livestock will inflict. Generally they like to rub against them so I would think the smoother , the more closely fitted they are, (not the rougher they are) the better they would do the job.

Mike M


Could you send me more shots of today's picture July 25th - I'm curious to see the
big picture. That picture is such a tease!

Also would encourage you to post more pictures of your Scotland tour. I
was salivating...




Hello, I must say I love this association! Last summer I took a week long course
at Sir Sandford Fleming College in Haliburton and had a fabulous time and
really learnt a lot. I have taken on an interesting task of building a dry
stone outdoor shower. However I am stuck on design, I am hoping that
someone...anyone could pass on any thoughts or ideas they may have. I
appreciate any help I can get.
Looking forward the the Festival!! Thank you, Jessica

Thanks Jessica for your comments. The Haliburton project was fun wasnt it.

Sherry Martin

Congrats on the new website. I looks great.

Just like your beautiful work. That bridge you and the team build at Karlo Estates has now been featured in Life in the County magazine. Let me know if you'd like a few copies.

dean mclellan

Hey Carlan where ya been. Hope everything is going well. Send an email let me know how you are doing. Miss ya at the festival. Take care, Dean.



Hope all is well. The Associations website looks great and is very professional. Appreciate the updates. You are doing wonderful things. I certainly have missed building drystone structures.
I am pleased to see that our arch still stands and it is a testament to the work we did with the materials we had at hand.

Best Regards,


Dean McLellan

Hello there, I would like to mention that it would be great to see more of the current work that our members are doing. Perhaps a real effort could be made by members to start submitting more pics to John so that he may post them and show people around the world the quality work that Canadians are doing!!


congratulations on the (re)new(ed) website. as tidy a job as one of your walls.

Jim Scott

John, Great to meet you at your walling presentation at Luncarty,I thought I had enthusiasm for stone,but I ain't got a on you,now I see where the advance in the quality of DSWAC comes from ,well done , keep up the good work,Jim Scott


I have completed a wall in the Paris, Ontario area and am now extending it as a result of a mass of glacial till unearthed from a geothermal heating loop. This is challenging due to the rounded shape of many of the rocks. Anyone wanting to practice skills is welcome.

Rolf Hartman

A big ol' howdy from out here in lotusland, beautiful Victoria, B.C. Looking forward to seeing the dswac all the back, out west this summer. The new site looks pretty good so far, will there be a nifty background image like the parent site?
Rock on.

Hey Rolf, thanks for the feedback, no plans for any nifty background, maybe we should invite members to send us background ideas


The new site looks GREAT! I’ve made it a point to check out your old site at least once a week to check out the latest updates and I was surprised by the new developments. I had no idea the site was moving.

Barbara J. Groves

I always thought that preservation of the body was the in thing but I must admit I like rocks better. We have the odd stone fence in Northern Ontario and many Native Stone arrangements to admire. My thoughts for a summer project this year centres around a rock centrepiece in one of my perennial gardens.
B.J. Groves


Greetings from Northumbria Branch. We have a Branch Meeting on Wednesday 16th April so will advise our members about the 2008 Northumberland Dry Stone Wall Festival. See www.northumbria-dswa.co.uk

John Stevenson, Branch Secretary


Hello fellow walling enthusiasts from Canada an afar!
Thank you for visiting our new site.
Here, in the guest book, is where we can leave messages and suggestions and add to things left by other people.
Putting thoughts together like stones in a wall
And so touching and balancing against one another along the wall in many directions.
John Shaw-Rimmington