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Nearly a century ago in a small North Eastern European city...

1928 – Of German ancestry, Waldemar (Walter) Schienke was born in the German settlement of Rumoka, Poland.

1945 – Seeking a more stable environment following the end of WWII, the Schienke family moved to Mecklenburg, Germany and Walter continued on to the town of Detmold, Germany.

1948 - After apprenticing and completing his journeyman as a miller in Detmold, Walter would eventually be the manager of the mill by his early 20's – unknowingly a position that would serve as a link a few years later in Canada, introducing him to the world of becoming a piano technician.

1952 – Following his older sister and younger brother to Canada, Walter arrived in Canada and together with his younger brother settled in Toronto. An experienced miller, Walter quickly found work at the Maple Leaf Milling Co. located by Dundas & Keele Street.

1960 Piano Technician Journal1952 to 1960 – Walter already had a love for music. Already an accordion player, Walter began vocal lessons which he thought would help in his learning of the English language. During this time, the Heintzman piano factory had a facility across from Maple Leaf Milling Co. where Walter was working. Each day Walter would see the piano technicians coming and going, dressed better than himself, tool case in their hands. Walter's vocal instructor, Betty Gemmill introduced him to the Heintzman brothers and by the late 50's Walter had managed to secure a career change, apprenticing under Bill Metcalfe, one of Heintzman & Co.'s chief foremen.

1960 – Walter became a concert tuner for the T. Eaton Co. on College Street.

19621962 – Walter opened his very own piano showroom on Bloor Street West selling used and rebuilt pianos.

1965 – Being a newlywed for just over a year, Walter sold his downtown store and with his wife Hedy moved to Willowdale where he developed his piano tuning and servicing business, tuning for private clients and institutions throughout the region.

1970 – Dissatisfied with the quality of bass strings he was ordering for his rebuilding work, Walter imported his own piano bass string winding machine from Germany and began manufacturing his own bass strings as needed.

1978 – 1982 – As his family grew, a dedicated workshop was needed and so Walter rented a shop for rebuilding on Doncaster Avenue, just north of Steeles and Yonge. He would hire 2 young apprentices of his own, one of whom would eventually become a first class piano craftsman himself, Paul Gilchrist.

19821982 – It had always been Walter's dream to have his own piano retail showroom selling new pianos. In '82 Walter purchased the property where the business still remains today in the north part of Richmond Hill. "Grand" Piano & Organ House was opened and Walter was York Region's official Authorized Yamaha dealer.

1995 – All the while refining his bass string manufacturing operations for himself, Walter created a new company division called J. D. Grandt Piano Supply Co. Partially honoring his son, John, with the first initials and adding the letter 't' to the end of Grandt as a tribute to his German heritage, this division focused on custom made bass strings and other piano parts and supplies being sold to piano tuners and rebuilders across Canada.

19981998 – When it came to piano bass string manufacturing, there proved to be a definite demand for quality service that was backed by years of experience in a very niche trade. Walter expanded his production capacity by purchasing a significantly larger, more industrial NC string-winding machine from Germany. As his son John was finishing his education, each member of the Schienke family pitched in as the family business continued to grow.

2000 – Walter's eyesight had been deteriorating over the course of his life and the demands of managing his retail business at the mature age of 72 were concluded and the Yamaha dealership discontinued. The J. D. Grandt Piano Supply division continued to flourish and expansion covering North America gradually began.

2006 – Transition had gradually been taking place when Walter experienced an untimely stroke, and his son John assumed the day-to-day operations of the business. Almost the anniversary date a year later, Walter would suffer a second stroke and this would see the business responsibilities fully transfer to his son John.

2006 – During the summer of 2006, and each year that followed, John showed the same tenacity and dedication as his father before him, and to this day attends both as an exhibitor as well as an occasional instructor at piano trade shows across the continent.

John Walter2008 (August) – With the J. D. Grandt Piano Supply Co., going strong, John re-opened the retail side of the business. Through his involvement in the piano industry, and the link of heritage with the Mecklenburg-Schwerin region of Germany – John introduced Gebr. Perzina pianos and was the first retailer ever in Canada to carry the brand.

2009 (September) – Once again on the hunt for a superior piano brand to represent, John entered into discussions and would become the exclusive Canadian representative for one of Germany's finest, handcrafted piano manufacturers – Steingraeber & Söhne. Could it be that such a brand would exist in countries around the world for over 150 years, yet never be represented in Canadian cities? Some of the finest musicians in Europe such as Alfred Brendal and Cyprien Katsaris, are well acquainted with Steingraeber & Söhne pianos – how could they not when Franz Liszt himself owned a Steingraeber & Söhne piano that can still be seen and played at the Steingraeber factory in Bayreuth to this day?

2009 (October) – Always keeping an open mind and looking for opportunities, John added another piano brand to his showroom floor – Hailun. This would evolve into the Toronto Hailun Piano Centre also acting as a warehouse depot for Hailun pianos shipped to the Eastern Canadian provinces. This would partially influence John's decision into making a trip to China the following year. Seeing the exponential progress in piano manufacturing in the world's Asian region was an eye opening experience.

2010 (Summer) – The Steingraeber & Söhne E-272 Concert grand piano is used in one of North America's largest classical music festivals – Festival de Lanaudière in Montreal. Two recitals and one Amphitheatre performance with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra were performed, all at the masterful hands of the majestic Valentina Lisitsa.

John Walter2010 (October) – John heads off to Shanghai, China for the annual Shanghai Music Show to see what opportunities might be of interest. Here John discovers the bold, new modern acoustic pianos being offered by Lomence Modern Crystal Piano Co. Ltd. John was most impressed with the piano craftsmanship and modern design of Lomence and would leave the convention as the exclusive North American Lomence representative. With the cooperation from some of Europe's finest piano parts suppliers and the best materials sourced from Germany, Japan, Canada and China, Lomence pianos are solidly fixed as a leader in today's modern piano manufacturing industry.

2011 (May) - The Steingraeber & Söhne E-272 Concert grand piano has its Toronto Glenn Gould Studio debut with renowned Canadian pianist, André Laplante and Sinfonia Toronto.

2011 (Summer) – Steingraeber & Söhne is chosen as the festival piano at Canada's largest orchestral music festival - the annual Brott Music Festival and over the summer months is used for numerous concerts.

2011 (November) – The Steingraeber & Söhne E-272 Concert grand piano has its Toronto Koerner Hall debut with world-renowned pianist Louis Lortie performing Liszt's three hour long Années de pèlerinage.

2012 (January) – John introduces Lomence pianos to North America at the annual NAMM Show in Anaheim, California. A definite curiosity can be seen in the eyes of most retailers as they take in the new, modern looking piano for the first time (which by the way is genuinely traditional on the inside).

2012 (April) - The Steingraeber & Söhne E-272 Concert grand piano makes its Toronto Roy Thomson Hall debut with legendary soprano Renée Fleming and accompanist Hartmut Höll, Dean of the University of Music Karlsruhe, Germany.

Lomence TB123 donated by J. D. Grandt to Toronto SickKids Hospital

A Lomence TB123 - Azure is donated by J. D. Grandt to Toronto SickKids Hospital.

2012 (June) - Performer IZ launches his new music video playing his Lomence Red Piano in the parking lot of a famous music store in Los Angeles. Watch Video

2012 (July) - J. D. Grandt officially launches their new website to offer its piano brands and industry expertise to the North American Marketplace.

2012 (Summer) – Steingraeber & Söhne is chosen as the festival piano at Canada's largest orchestral music festival - the annual Brott Music Festival and over the summer months is used for numerous concerts.

JDG_CdnMusicTrade_FebMar2013 2013 (Feb/Mar) – J.D. Grandt Piano Supply Co. is featured in the February/March 2013 edition of Canadian Music Trade magazine. Read the article here.

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