Louis Blake Duff – an email exchange

(The DA issue is here.)

Good afternoon Elke:

And thanks for your interest in my interest!

It’s a long story but I will try to condense.

My name is Heather Volz Sanders and Cory Sanders is my son. Someone sent me an article from the Welland (Ontario) Tribune way back in August of 2003 written by Peter Saracino entitled “In Search of Louis Duff.” He wanted to write about my grandfather and was looking for people to contact him. At that time my mother, one of his two daughters, Elizabeth Duff Volz, was still alive in Victoria, British Columbia and I was hoping he would be able to talk to her. I did contact Mr. Saracino but never heard back so I didn’t believe the project went through.

My son, Cory loves to research his family on the Internet especially since his great grandfather, Dr. Louis Blake Duff was somewhat of a celebrity. He FOUND your Devil’s Artisan while “googling” Pop Duff’s name and he ordered and received it this past April. He brought his copy this past week while he and his family visited with us I saw and read the excellent article by Peter Saracino including a picture of my grandparents’ grave stones. Until I saw that picture (which I had never seen before) I did not know where they were buried. The picture of Pop’s winter home is a photo I had never seen before so that is a treasure as well. I have hundreds of photos but not this particular shot. But he also had a gorgeous summer country estate, Cooneen Cross and I visited there (now owned by a Heritage Foundation and called St. Johns Centre) this past May (I have been in Texas for 42 years having married a Texan) because both my parents are buried at this beautiful location.

The rest of the family NEEDS to own this lovely tribute to my grandfather hence the 12 copies. My mother was the last of the children to pass away – May 21, 2005 and her Memorial Service was held at St. Johns Centre on September 10, 2005. There is a niece in Ontario, 2 grandchildren in Ontario, 1 in BC, 1 in Nova Scotia, 1 (me) in Texas, a great grandson who is an actor in LA, a great grandson, Duff Gibson, a Canadian Gold Medalist for Canada in Calgary, 2 grand nieces in Ontario, 1 grand nephew in BC and then the 12th copy for the current caretakers living at Pop’s former summer home at St. Johns Centre.

So that’s my interest – Peter’s wonderful article that my son happened to find on the Internet (thankful for modern technology) will be passed on to Pop’s remaining family.

We think our grandfather was pretty special and it was a most pleasant surprise to see in print that someone else thought so too and wrote it down. — Heather Sanders


To Heather Volz Sanders

Hi Heather:

This is in regard to Louis Blake Duff.

My husband and I have recently been blessed with the opportunity to live in and manage the property once known as Cooneen Cross. As we gaze upon the property and live in this home we wonder what kind of a man Louis was. He must have had some special insight and artistic talent to create such a haven. In particular, one of our sons, named Sheldon, worked here this past summer before we moved in. He commented on some old photos of the property and, being an artist himself, was excited to see the iron work and stone work throughout the property shown in the photos. We have also seen photos of the Italian garden by the stream. I suppose you also have copies of those photos. I would love to dialogue with you more about your grandfather. When visitors come here to visit I explain that Louis Blake Duff bought this property and owned it from 1928 to 1953, during which time he did much/all of the stonework on the property. I would be interested to know how much of the property development was before your grandfather purchased it. For example, was the stone bridge there before Louis came here or did he have it built? I also understand he had 4 or 5 full time gardeners. Please advise me if this number is incorrect.

Please email me and we can talk further about your grandfather.


Norma Lisoy, St. Johns Centre

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The Devil's Artisan is remarkable in Canadian publishing in that most of the physical production of our journal is completed in-house at the shop on the Main Street of Erin Village. We print on a twenty-five inch Heidelberg KORD, typically onto acid-free Zephyr Antique laid. The sheets are then folded, and sewn into signatures on a 1907 model Smyth National Book Sewing machine.

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