1. The Renewed National Arts Centre: Kipnes Lantern Misses the Mark Catherine Nasmith
From National Arts Centre website
I had a lovely mid-winter break in Ottawa. From our hotel window we had a great view of Confederation Square, the canal and the newly renovated National Arts Centre, a long time favourite building of mine. First let me say hats off to Diamond Schmitt Architects for a sensitive alteration which has opened the building to the surrounding public spaces in an intriguing, sophisticated way. Watching people moving about in the foyers is a welcome view on a winter night.
Regrettably, the Kipnes Lantern misses the mark; unveiled on New Year's Eve, it is a programmable LED display embedded in the glazing that wraps around the corner of the building and extends down Elgin Street. At 3 stories high, it is far too visually demanding in the square that is also home to Canada’s war memorial, whose carefully designed night lighting is eclipsed by the overly brilliant showiness of the Lantern. This is particularly true moving up Elgin Avenue, where the Lantern dominates the night view. What is promoted as abstract art, billed as promoting Canadian Arts, behaves more like a billboard that escaped from Toronto’s Dundas Square or the Gardiner Expressway.
Over the decades Ottawa’s core has steadily advanced, project by project, to create a place that reflects its role as the Nation’s capital. Careful orchestration, monitored by civil society, led and encouraged by the National Capital Commission and implemented with careful consideration by all levels of government have created a city centre that is a source of Canadian pride.
The Lantern is presented on the National Arts Centre pages as follows “Rising dramatically above the NAC's new front entrance, the glass tower incorporates cutting-edge transparent LED screens to display stunning images of Canada's leading artists and productions. Beginning every day at dusk the Kipnes Lantern becomes a beacon for the performing arts in Canada, showcasing the breath and excellence of the work being produced across Canada.” What I witnessed was a steady stream of promotional images, mixed with an abstract light show, lacking in the subtle elegance demanded by its place in Canada’s pre-eminent civic square. Confederation Square is not Times Square. Time for a reset.
2. Cobourg's Sidbrook Suffering from Demolition by Neglect Gail Rayment
courtesy Northumberland News
Sidbrook, a “chic…Italianate Villa” in Cobourg, designed by the eminent architect Kivas Tully, was built in 1857. For a hundred years, as home to well-connected families who enhanced it by adding a west wing, a third storey, a portico supported by four Corinthian columns, Sidbrook was the centre of social life for Cobourg’s summer colony of wealthy Americans.
Dramatic change came in 1952 with conversion into a private hospital, as its grounds were reduced to the current acreage. The hospital closed in 2002 and the property sold. In 2009 the owners proposed conversion into six condominium units, then withdrew the application.
Sidbrook, one of the few grand houses remaining in Cobourg, has been empty ever since.
Cobourg designated it under the OHA in 2007. Sidbrook, now a shadow of its former self with peeling paint and boarded windows, is the subject of ongoing effort to keep the house secure. Appeals to protect the building’s heritage attributes by enforcing Cobourg’s Building Standards by-law result in frustration for the Chief Building Officer. He now, in January 2018, reports the owners’ claim that they lack the resources to do needed roof repairs.
The local Architectural Conservancy Ontario Branch, after monitoring this situation for over ten years, now fears another case of demolition by neglect.
Editor’s Note: This piece first appeared in ACO's electronic newsletter
Acorn in a Nutshell
3. Alton Mill Arts Centre Opens Doors for Heritage Days Alton Mill Press Release
Visit one of Canada’s Cultural Gems and Uncover Secrets of Caledon’s Industrial Past!
Caledon, ON - The Alton Mill Arts Centre is pleased to welcome the public for a special collaborative event with Heritage Caledon, on Sunday, February 18th and Monday, February 19th, 2018. The magnificent Alton Mill, where Ontario’s rural and industrial heritage collide with modern-day cultural innovation, hosts Heritage Caledon’s 150 for 150 Project. Volunteers will be on site both days, from 11am - 4pm, with posters of pre-Confederation structures and buildings in Caledon, and conducting comprehensive historical tours of the Alton Mill.
Gourmandissimo Café will round out the event by offering a special Heritage Menu.
The Alton Mill Arts Centre is one of two remaining 19th century stone mills in the historic village of Alton. Originally the Beaver Knitting Mill, renowned for the production of fleece-lined long underwear, the complex was converted to a rubber factory in the 1930s, producing such products as Mickey Mouse balloons for Disney and condoms for the Canadian military in WW2 until 1982.
Abandoned for decades and derelict, the property was converted to an arts centre by Jordan and Jeremy Grant, proprietors of Seaton Group, a local land developer, in collaboration with Headwaters Arts, a regional non-profit arts organization. Extensive renovations took place between 2006 and 2009, with careful attention given to protecting the historic character of the site and environment. The lead architect on the project was Catherine Nasmith, with construction management from J.D. Strachan Construction Limited of King City.
Today the interdisciplinary arts centre is a creative hub, home to two dozen artist studios, galleries, artisanal markets, wearable art, a year-round sculpture garden and café. The original water, steam and electric power equipment remained intact in the “Turbine Room" which has been converted into a fascinating industrial heritage exhibit.
The restoration of the Alton Mill has been recognized with many awards including an Achievement Award for Rehabilitation and Adaptive Reuse from The National Trust (2009), a Community Recognition Award from the Ontario Heritage Trust (2010), and a Globe and Mail Partnership Award for Best Entrepreneurial Partnership from Business for the Arts (2012).
With a goal of identifying 150 pre-Confederation buildings to celebrate Canada 150, Heritage Caledon has catalogued roughly 210 buildings and structures that date before Confederation in 1867, and are still standing today. Committee members photographed 178 of these, and images have been assembled into posters produced by the Town of Caledon. Dating from the earliest period of settlement in the 1820s up until 1867, these buildings and structures are located in both urban and rural areas across Caledon. Remarkably, 25% of the structures are of log construction, most of which are still used as dwellings today. The Peel Archives (PAMA) collaborated by providing images of Caledon's earliest mapping, including Tremaine’s 1859 Map of the County of peel, an original of which was donated by the McClellan family of Alton.
Active for over four decades, Heritage Caledon is a volunteer advisory committee comprised of residents with an interest in conservation, representatives from local historical societies, and the Caledon Town Council. In recent years, Heritage Caledon has worked in partnership with village associations and local historical societies to create 12 self-directed, online walking tours in Caledon, including 3 in the Village of Alton. For more visit caledon.ca/walkingtours.
The “150 for 150 Project” will remain on display at the Alton Mill Arts Centre until Sunday, February 25th. The Alton Mill is open Wednesday through Sunday, and Holiday Mondays, 10am to 5pm. For more information about the history and restoration of the Alton Mill, as well as current and upcoming events, visit altonmill.ca or follow the Arts Centre on Facebook.
This event takes place as part of a larger initiative by the National Trust for Canada, Heritage Stands the Test of Time, encouraging Canadians to explore the idea of a collective history passed down to the present day, and share the stories of past generations, throughout the week of February 19th, 2108. Visit nationaltrustcanada.ca for more.
Editor’s Note: Always happy to promote events at the Alton Mills, one of my favorite projects. If you haven't been, this would be a great time to visit.
4. Call for Papers: National Trust for Canada Conference 2018
The conference is in Frederiction, New Brunswick this year. Last time we were there the hospitality was outstanding. There are a wide range of topics being sought, so put your hat in the ring. For more information
5. WAR Flowers - A Touring Art Exhibition explores human nature in wartime through floriography, sculpture and scent. Campbell House Press Release
Toronto, Ontario, January 23, 2018 - During the First World War, Canadian soldier George Stephen Cantlie picked flowers from the fields and gardens of war-torn Europe and sent them home to his baby daughter Celia in Montreal so she would remember him in the event he did not make it home from that terrible conflict. One hundred years later, his touching ritual has provided the inspiration for WAR Flowers - A Touring Art Exhibition, opening Wednesday, January 24 at Toronto's Campbell House Museum.
"Campbell House Museum is excited and proud to be hosting the remarkable WAR Flowers exhibition in Toronto," said Liz Driver, Director/Curator of Campbell House. "This exhibition has already been a huge popular success on the first two stops of its five city tour, moving thousands of visitors at Reford Gardens in Grand-Métis, Quebec and then at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. WAR Flowers is a jewel of a show, and an imaginative, innovative example of the power of art to enrich and transform our understanding and experience of history in unexpected ways."
WAR Flowers is an innovative multi-sensorial experience that examines human nature in the landscape of war through artistic representations, combining Cantlie's actual letters and pressed flowers with original scents and crystal sculptures specifically created for this exhibition, along with portraits of ten Canadians involved in the First World War.
The exhibition - developed by filmmaker and curator Viveka Melki and presented by Les Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens (Alexander Reford, director) in Grand-Métis, Quebec - is built around Cantlie's century-old preserved blooms. Melki has reinterpreted these through floriography, a Victorian method of communicating meaning and emotion through flowers.
WAR Flowers consists of ten stations, each showcasing a variety of flower picked by Cantlie. The stations represent individual attributes associated with the exhibition's ten themes, and reflect Melki's beliefs about war and human nature. Each station also highlights a Canadian (including John McCrae, Georges Vanier, Elsie Reford and A.Y. Jackson) who embodies these attributes, and features his or her personal experiences of the First World War.
Creatively integrated into the exhibition are ten specially commissioned optical crystal sculptures by Toronto artist Mark Raynes Roberts and ten original scents developed by Magog, Quebec perfumer Alexandra Bachand. The creative team is rounded out by Céline Arseneault, librarian for over three decades at the Montréal Botanical Garden, who oversaw the conservation of the fragile 100-year-old flowers, and Normand Dumont, the exhibition's designer, who transformed Viveka Melki's creative vision into a unique sensory experience for visitors to each of the venues.
The exhibition is presented at Campbell House Museum from January 24 to March 25, after which it will travel to the Visitor Education Centre at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France (May 2 - September 2) and Château Ramezay - Historic Site and Museum in Montreal (October 4, 2018-March 31, 2019).
6. CBC: Century home in Davisville Michael Smee
Residents, councillor hope to rescue century home faced with demolition"
Residents, councillor hope to rescue century home faced with demolition
Balliol Street house has a 130-year-old pedigree in Davisville neighbourhood
Longtime Balliol Street resident Christine Yankou says she's worried about what sort of structure could replace the century home at 505 Balliol if the historic home is torn down. (Joe Fiorino/CBC News)
A rare century home on a midtown Toronto street is at risk of demolition, but the local city councillor is vowing to save it with a special motion at this week's council meeting.
The one-and-a-half-storey house at 505 Balliol Street was built almost 130 years ago and bought by the Page family, which lived there for 75 years. The family's grocery store was a local landmark for more than 25 years, according to city records.
But last summer, the house was sold for $2.8 million. The new owner filed a plan with the city to sever the property, demolish the structure and erect two ultra-modern homes on the site a plan that worried local residents and Coun. Josh Matlow, who represents the neighbourhood on Toronto city council.
City staff say the new owner of this historic home on Balliol Street has applied for a demolition permit. (Mike Smee/CBC News)
"505 Balliol is a wonderful example of those small homes that were built in the 1890s with those gabled roofs; quaint is the best description of it," Matlow told CBC Toronto.
"But it also served as the local grocery store, so it was a community hub, the place where everybody would run into each other and catch up on life, and get a quart of milk and share stories together build community. And I think we need to preserve those stories."
7. Globe and Mail: Archeology and reconciliation Eric Andres-Gee
Excavating Canada's past with a newly critical eye
Mohawk Institute, Brantford
He's a broad-shouldered 6 foot 2, but Paul Racher walks softly and with an almost apologetic stoop through the grounds of an old residential school. It's the gait of someone visiting a cemetery or a famous battlefield.
The Mohawk Institute was a bit of both during the almost 150 years it operated here, until it finally closed in 1970. Now, like many battlefields and burial grounds, it has become an archeological site. Mr. Racher is part of a team excavating it pro bono for the Woodland Cultural Centre, the Indigenous-run organization that has preserved the school for educational purposes.
The dig is a "reconciliation project," Mr. Racher says, undertaken first by his own firm, Archaeological Research Associates, and then by the Ontario Archaeological Society (OAS) as part of the profession's attempt, during Canada's sesquicentennial, to bring its practices in line with the values and interests of the people whose heritage they dig up.
At the institute, Mr. Racher and his colleagues uncovered detritus from the residential school old crockery, marbles, jacks and then below that, evidence of habitation before contact with Europeans, including an arrowhead.
"So you had a happy Indigenous occupation, then a very sad one," Mr. Racher says.
Schools such as the Mush Hole so nicknamed for the oatmeal it served students with deadening regularity have become synonymous with the abuse of Indigenous Canadians through government policies. But studying the building itself, still grimly imposing after all these years, makes the misery of the place vivid. Schools such as the Mohawk Institute have become synonymous with the abuse of Indigenous Canadians through government policies.
Schools such as the Mohawk Institute have become synonymous with the abuse of Indigenous Canadians through government policies.
Mr. Racher, 51, points out messages scratched into the red brick of the school's outbuildings: "FOWLER MINNIE + GAW GAW WAS HERE, MARCH 1952," "FRANK HILL SERVED TIME HERE," "HELP ME PLEASE."
He and Paula Whitlow, the executive director of the Woodland Cultural Centre, go through the hundreds of objects found in the walls of the third-floor dormitory during recent renovations: comic books, Valentine's Day cards, cigarettes, lots of food. Students at the institute "were always cold and always hungry," Ms. Whitlow says.
This excavation is part of the Save the Evidence campaign to preserve the remnants of one of the country's few intact residential school buildings. Mr. Racher and his colleagues are undertaking it in close collaboration with the cultural centre and on their behalf.
That simple goal is a departure for a profession that has long been dominated by disinterested academics or private contractors working for developers. But as reconciliation with Indigenous peoples grinds ahead, Canadian archeologists are motivated and well placed to show a way forward.
"We're trying to do things that will help the Indigenous communities," Mr. Racher says.
The profession has long been involved in saving the evidence of that inconvenient Canadian truth: that Indigenous people were here first. But it has often done so clumsily and even brutally, mishandling and appropriating artifacts and disturbing ancestral remains. Now, many archeologists are determined to mend their ways. The excavation is part of the Save the Evidence campaign to preserve the remnants of one of the countrys few intact residential school buildings.
The excavation is part of the Save the Evidence campaign to preserve the remnants of one of the countrys few intact residential school buildings.
"Anyone who doesn't think control of Indigenous heritage is going to pass to Indigenous peoples is smoking something," Mr. Racher says. "The only weird thing to me is how long it took for us to figure that out."
In November, at a Best Western hotel 10 minutes from the Mohawk Institute site, the OAS held its annual symposium. The gathering had a daunting theme: "From Truth to Reconciliation: Redefining Archaeology in Ontario."
Most Canadians would struggle to define Canadian archeology, let alone redefine it. The field tends to be more closely associated in the public mind with the sites of classical antiquity such as Rome and Egypt. "When I first tell someone I'm an archeologist, they say, 'We have archeology here? No way!' " Mr. Racher says. "They're used to the Greeks, Italians, the U.K. It's rare you run into someone who thinks & anything important could have happened here."
Of course, important things did happen in Canada before European colonists arrived. But the colonists were so successful in extinguishing the living cultures they encountered that by the late 19 th century, archeology, as opposed to anthropology, had become a viable way to study the country's first peoples.
The first full-time professional Canadian archeologist was an enterprising blacksmith and bookseller named David Boyle, who in the 1880s began crudely excavating sites across Southern Ontario.
Some Indigenous peoples valued his work for preserving their material culture, according to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography. The Mohawk of Six Nations near Brantford, Ont., actually adopted Boyle and bestowed upon him the name "ambassador." A pair of shoes found hidden in the walls of the third floor of the Mohawk Institute.
Still, the title of the paper he produced about his time among the Six Nations "On the paganism of the civilized Iroquois of Ontario" suggests how condescending and Victorian his sensibility remained. The tension Boyle embodied, between the respectful preservation and the arrogant misconstrual of Indigenous heritage, would define the next century of Canadian archeology.
For decades, the field remained the preserve of amateurs and scholars, "a small thing practised by a few people mostly out of university departments," Mr. Racher says. Only in the construction boom after the Second World War did that begin to change, as suburban tracts sprouted across North America and stories spread of Indigenous artifacts being "bulldozed away."
Anxiety about what was being lost helped spur stricter regulations around development and gave rise to what was virtually a new profession: the archeological consultant.
Even as the industry boomed, its attitude toward Indigenous cultures remained tainted by prejudice and indifference. When Mr. Racher began practising archeology in the 1980s, the field was shot through with a rough-and-ready "pith helmet" approach that often led to the manhandling and effective confiscation of sacred artifacts.
"The theory used to be 'Just shut up and shovel,' " said Gord Peters, deputy grand chief of the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians, which works to defend treaty rights.
It was an absurd but telling approach. In the eyes of many Indigenous groups, much of the land that now makes up Canada was never properly ceded. Settlers and their descendants, of course, largely take a different view. The dig is a 'reconciliation project,' Paul Racher says.
The dig is a reconciliation project, Paul Racher says.
"This is our land & we have underlying title that was never extinguished," Mr. Peters said. "[But] for some reason it's easy to dig up our ancestors and put them in museums and things."
Mr. Racher's own upbringing provided plenty of evidence for the dispossession of Indigenous people that underlies so much of his profession. His grandparents' farm in Petrolia, Ont., bought on the cheap in the 1950s, was on a swath of 580,000 acres purchased by the Crown in 1822 from the Chippewa Nation as part of Treaty 25. In exchange the Chippewas got a pittance. As Mr. Racher wrote in a presentation last year, "this is why, by 128 years later, that same land (cleared, 'improved' and with a house on it) was cheap enough that an uneducated farm labourer could afford to buy it and raise his six children there." It's what launched the Rachers into the middle class.
Archeology was one way to fight back against this kind of dispossession. For all their blind spots, those who work in the field tend to have a keener appreciation of the richness of Indigenous heritage than most Canadians do.
Beginning in the early 2000s, meanwhile, a series of court decisions reaffirmed the Crown's duty to consult with and accommodate Indigenous peoples in the course of development, leading to a boom in archeological consulting, with professionals such as Mr. Racher increasingly called on to establish the heritage value of sites across the country.
That produced a bumper crop of contracts Mr. Racher, who used to be a part-time Volkswagen mechanic and furnace installer, now has a staff of dozens but it also created a sea change in the way archeologists thought about their relationship with Indigenous people.
8. Globe and Mail: Old City Hall....Museum of Toronto!? Alex Bozikovic
After years of neglect, Old City Hall deserves Toronto
Old City Hall towers over Toronto. The grand sandstone pile stands at the top of the Bay Street canyon, its carvings and gables testifying to Victorian Toronto's ambition and craftsmanship.
It's time to bring that history back to light. In a report being delivered to City Council's Executive Committee on Wednesday, city staff recommend that the building be re-purposed to house – among other things – a new Museum of Toronto.
The idea of a museum is long overdue, and there's no better place to put it: The building is the ideal venue for revealing the stories of Toronto and the ambition that has pushed the city forward.
When architect E.J. Lennox won a design competition for a courthouse and city hall in 1886, he employed the Richardsonian Romanesque style – the choice of prospering metropolises including Pittsburgh and Buffalo. The building opened as Toronto's third city hall in 1899, after plenty of partisan wrangling and cost increases. It was, without question, the grandest building of Toronto's first 100 years.
For now, it's a bit of a mess.
Since the city's government moved to the current City Hall in 1965, the older one has served simply as courts, and half a century's worth of drywall partitions, vomit-brown ceramic tile, and pink linoleum have been added to the place.
But if it's tarnished, it remains a gem. Last week, I took a tour of the building with architect Peter Ortved and facility manager Doug Kozak. After passing through the security screening, we were free to look around the main reception hall: the intricate tile mosaics, the scagliola columns and the dentil mouldings overhead, and in front of us Robert McCausland's stained-glass window, The Union of Commerce and Industry, which shows a history of Toronto's origins, like bearded workers meeting up with well-travelled traders.
None of the cops, citizens or red-sashed judges who walked by us seemed to notice.
"This is an icon," Mr. Ortved said. "It's the premier heritage building that the city owns, and they've never paid much attention to it. It's got a site to die for. And it deserves to be treated better."
Editor’s Note: I wrote an essay on Old City Hall for a course given by William Dendy in 1977, got an A. It is one of the City's most iconic buildings and one we would have lost if not for citizen efforts in the late 1960's. No doubt it would be a great site for a museum of the City, but I worry about financial sustainability in this tax averse town.
9. Globe and Mail: Toronto's Commerce Court Alex Bozikovic
Deco, modern and what's next? The historic home of CIBC could get a dramatic revamp
Architects David Pontarini and Michael McLelland, Globe and Mail Photo
The nature of corporate work has changed, and Commerce Court – the four-building complex at King and Bay that is one of the most significant and symbolic works of architecture in the country – is poised to change, too
The North tower of Commerce Court in Toronto.
The coffee machine hisses and a barista places a cappuccino on the marble counter with a clink.
It's a familiar scene, except for the setting: The café is in the lobby of Commerce Court West in Toronto. It was designed by architect I.M. Pei in the 1960s as a temple of a banking hall: 112 square feet, 33-feet high, unsullied by columns or beams and washed by sunlight through plate glass.
Now, it's got coffee and croissants, and also sofas to lounge on. Clearly, the nature of corporate work has changed, and Commerce Court – the four-building complex at King and Bay that is one of the most significant and symbolic works of architecture in the country – is poised to change, too. The question is, how do you update a modernist megaproject for the 21st century?
This process, popular in the 19th century, involves using lime-based mortars and results in a wall dressed in a sharp grid of thin, raised 'ribbons' between each brick
The semi-detached, Second Empire homes at 62 – 64 Charles St. E., Toronto, built by contractor Arthur Coleman and painter Thomas Smith in 1885.
And while the Casa trio – Casa I, at 46 storeys, is across the street – are striking for the stark geometry of their wraparound balconies, another set of straight lines much, much closer to the Charles Street sidewalk deserve the attention of harried passersby.
As often happens with new developments, significant commitments to the love and care of old buildings were secured by the city from developer Cresford before building permits were issued. And while that's not news in itself, the semi-detached, Second Empire homes at 62 and 64 Charles St. E., built by contractor Arthur Coleman and painter Thomas Smith in 1885, now boast an excellent example of the lost art of tuckpointing.
Crisp geometry like this hasn't been seen on a brick wall for perhaps a century. Not to be confused with run-of-the-mill pointing or repointing, tuckpointing (the terms are often used interchangeably, which is incorrect) involves a multistep process using lime-based mortars that results in a wall dressed in a sharp grid of thin, raised "ribbons" between each brick.
The Charles St. homes boast an excellent example of the lost art of tuckpointing.
11. Toronto Star: Cleaning the Taj Mahal KAI SCHULTZ, New York Times
Taj Mahal headed for a good, long bath
Pollution has blackened and yellowed much of the facade, so a thorough cleaning has been prescribed to restore the building’s beauty.
Though tourist numbers have dropped at the Taj Mahal in recent years, tens of thousands of people still visit every day. (ATUL LOKE / THE NEW YORK TIMES)
NEW DELHI—For the first time ever, the Taj Mahal, India’s monument to eternal love, is getting a serious cleaning.
For more than 350 years, monsoon rains in Agra, the bustling city where the monument sits, were enough to wash dirt off the structure’s walls. But pollution has worsened over the last couple of decades, and parts of the marble facade have turned yellow and black.
Since 2015, workers have scaled the monument’s minarets and walls to correct discolouration and remove layers of grime from the 17th-century structure, which was built by Muslim emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
Behind the monument, the Yamuna River has also filled with sewage and other waste, worsening the problem by attracting millions of mosquito-like insects. They settle near the backside of the Taj Mahal and excrete a green substance on its walls during mating flights.
Cleaning the monument is time-consuming and challenging. To remove discolouration, workers suspended on scaffolding are caking Fuller’s earth — a mud paste that absorbs dirt, grease and animal excrement, and that is commonly used to treat skin impurities — on the entire monument. The mud is then washed off, leaving a pristine surface.
“No chemicals are used,” said Bhuvan Vikrama, a superintendent with the Archaeological Survey of India, which is overseeing the cleaning. “This is the best option, so far, that we have come across. We have been using it for decades on marble surfaces.”
Over the last few years, the scaffolding has mostly prevented people from taking unobstructed photographs of the monument. Workers have tried to clean the minarets in stages, in part to ensure that the millions of tourists who visit the Taj Mahal every year come away with a good view of the tomb, which Rabindranath Tagore, India’s celebrated poet, once compared to “a solitary tear suspended on the cheek of time.”
But this year, workers may face their biggest hurdle yet: restoring the monument’s dome to a pearly white. The metal scaffolds that workers used to apply mud paste to the minarets are too heavy and rigid to assemble around the dome, so a type of bamboo scaffolding, which was used for conservation work in the 1940s, is being considered instead.
12. Windsor Star: No Designation for MacDonald House Brian Cross
Wrecker's ball looms after council refuses heritage protection for home
Windsor Star photo
A motion to historically designate the former home of one of Windsor’s most prominent 20th-century figures was defeated by the majority of councillors Monday, paving the way for its demolition by the University of Windsor.
“It’s a house, it’s not the person,” Ward 2 Coun. John Elliott said, referring to the deteriorating stucco house on Sunset Avenue that was once the home of Judge Bruce J.S. Macdonald, but is now known as Iona College. The university took possession of the 1924 home in 2016 with plans to tear it down and turn the property into a parkette.
Elliott expressed concern that if the university couldn’t go ahead with its plan, it would sell it to an absentee landlord who would fill it up with students and contribute to the current urban blight in the west end. “It’s a mess,” he said.
13. Canadian Architect: The Revitalization of Heritage Bernard Flaman, SAA FRAIC
In the summer of 2004, I curated a small exhibition at Saskatoon’s Mendel Art Gallery that coincided with the 40th anniversary of its construction. Character and Controversy sought to tell a story about Saskatchewan’s modernist architecture and introduce the idea that these buildings could be appreciated for their heritage value. Now, more than a dozen years later, the understanding and reception of modern heritage is still an uphill struggle. However, as a conservation architect, I am hopeful for the future and see a younger generation looking at these buildings—even Brutalism—with fresh eyes, less baggage and sometimes even with a sketchbook in hand. There are also hopeful signs from two of our universities: Trent University has reached out to the conservation community to better understand and take care of Ron Thom’s masterpiece campus, and the University of Saskatchewan has created a heritage register for its Gothic-inspired campus–which includes buildings as late as 1987. All this provides some reassurance that the 1964 Mendel building, which has now been supplanted as the city’s flagship art gallery by the newly completed Remai Modern, will be treated respectfully as it takes on a new life as the Children’s Discovery museum.
The 1964 Mendel Art Gallery, a modernist masterpiece in Saskatoon. Photo courtesy of the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections. By Henry Kalen.
What’s clear is that heritage conservation is expanding outside of its traditional confines. I’ve recently had the pleasure of visiting several heritage-related projects in Ottawa, Toronto, Regina and Vancouver that illustrate this expansion of heritage thinking—from the copper roofing replacement on the dome of the Saskatchewan Legislative building, to the new home for my alma mater, the University of Toronto’s architecture school (Canadian Architect, October 2017) to the transformation of the Brutalist 1960s National Arts Centre (CA, July 2017). As well, I’ve seen projects in Toronto and Vancouver that add significant, and sometimes startling, density to heritage sites, with huge contemporary additions to modest heritage structures conjuring up the image of Godzilla attacking Bambi; let’s just call this “GaB,” for short.
14. cbc.ca London: Marshall Brothers Tea Company Facade on Display Gary Ennett
Historical piece of Dundas streetscape now back on display
Façade of the Marshall Brothers Tea Company graces the third floor of the Central Library
Part of the facade of the Marshall Tea Co. now on display on the third floor of London's Central Library (Gary Ennett/CBC News)
Visitors to the Central Library in London can now go back in time to explore a piece of Dundas Street from the Victorian era.
Pieces of the façade of the Marshall Brothers Tea Company, established in 1873, are now prominently displayed on the third floor of the library. The new exhibit was unveiled earlier this week.
"It's probably one of the oldest store facades in London," says Dorothy Palmer, of the local branch of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario. Visitors can get a "real look at what a little shop looked like in that time of Victoria."
The permanent exhibit includes several of the uprights, the door surround and some of the signage. It also includes an intriguing life-size photograph of Ernest Marshall, the son of one of two brothers who founded the business, which survived for over 100 years.
A thriving business
Ernest took over the business in the late 1880s right out of high school and was the owner for more than 70 years.
Ernest Marshall, owner of the business, for more than 70 years. (Gary Ennett/CBC News)
"It was a thriving business. A lot of people of a certain age definitely remember it. War brides mentioned how they were thrilled to see it when they came to town. It supplied tea right across Southwestern Ontario," said Palmer.
The store, which was located at 67 Dundas Street, imported tea from India. It stood just steps from the present day Budweiser Gardens.
Historians believe the building was likely constructed in the early 1850s, a boom time for London.
Facade saved from demolition
In the mid-1980s, the streetscape was being demolished and Julia Beck, an active heritage activist, and Museum London got permission from the developer to save the façade.
"So they literally pulled it off the building, stored it in the old PUC substation on Carling for a while, and then it went over to Museum London, " Palmer.
Editor’s Note: This is the most extreme form of urban taxidermy, when buildings end up in museums. Valuable for sure, but so much less satisfying than an occupied building that is part of a diverse, active community of businesses.
15. cbc.ca-Guelph's Petrie-The Big Reveal
Guelph's Petrie Building renovations revealed as scaffolding comes down
Building has been undergoing renovations and restoration since 2015
The City of Guelph tweeted this photo of the top floors of the Petrie Building in downtown Guelph as scaffolding used for restoration work was removed Tuesday. (@cityofguelph/Twitter)
The scaffolding used during restoration work of the facade of the Petrie Building in downtown Guelph came down on Tuesday.
Some were eagerly sharing the news on social media as the first floor windows were revealed.
Kirk Roberts, a principal at Tyrcathlen Partners, which purchased the building in 2015, said he only found out Monday afternoon that the scaffolding was coming down on Tuesday.
"It's been a long wait. Everybody's been waiting both to see the metal facade and also to see the building with windows in it for the first time," Roberts said in an interview.
He said he was excited to see others excited about the project. The building has held a special place in the hearts of Guelph residents.
"They saw such a unique building just sort of sit on its own for so long," he said.
The building was built in 1882 by A.B. Petrie, who had a pharmacy on the ground floor and an office on the second floor.
The building has a full sheet metal facade, which the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario said makes it the last remaining machine-stamped metal clad building in Canada.
In 2014, it was put on Heritage Canada National Trust's list of Canada's Top 10 Most Endangered Places.
Some of the upper floors of the building had been vacant for almost a hundred years before Tyrcathlen Partners purchased the building in 2015.
That began the lengthy process to renovate and restore it.
16. Globe and Mail: Adaptive Re-use in Hamilton Dave Le Blanc
Hamilton, show us how it's done
A local architect has turned a rusting row of abandoned industrial buildings into a lesson in adaptive reuse.
Cool Urban Towns at Nos. 7, 9 and 11 Brock St. in Hamilton.
Architect Bill Curran has thrown down the gauntlet in his native Hamilton & hard.
"It's pretty extreme, architecturally, for the neighbourhood," he says of the trio of adaptively reused, freehold townhouses he's just finished in the North End. "And I hope it's like a splash of cold water in the face of some people, aesthetically, because in Toronto this would be relatively anonymous or innocuous, but here, there's nothing like it."
Really? But Hamilton has so many small, semi-abandoned industrial buildings just aching to be converted. And so many creative types have traded in the expensive T-Dot for the budget-friendly Hammer, it's been jokingly called "Toronto's Brooklyn" for at least a decade; you'd think ingenious infill would be all over that city's notorious one-way streets.
"They're not happening here, we're not getting the cool stuff," he counters, grimly. "There's a lot of really poor, crappy stuff.
"I can show you a half a dozen around here that are just heartbreaking, missed opportunities."
Consider Mr. Curran's architectural gauntlet an opportunity snatched and then massaged into a powerful message. Dubbed simply "Cool Urban Towns" at Nos. 7, 9 and 11 Brock St. a stone's throw from the waterfront and the HMCS Haida the handsome project was an unheated, red-brick storage building containing skids of drinking glasses, tents and folding tables when Mr. Curran picked it up for $320,000 in 2014.
17. St. Catharines Standard: Plan for Port Dalhousie Karena Walter
Long-awaited plan for Port Dalhousie arrives
File photo of Murphy's Tavern in Port Dalhousie from Tuesday April 25 2017. Print
City council has been presented its long-awaited draft Port Dalhousie secondary master plan Monday, but some members of the public are disappointed it took so long.
“You’ve done a great job, but it’s just too late,” said Colin Johnston, president of the St. Catharines branch of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, during a three-hour public meeting at city hall Monday.
He added he couldn’t believe the process started in 2015 and was being discussed in 2018.
“You knew development was in the offing. You should have nailed this one down.”
Council ordered a secondary plan and heritage conservation district study for the Port Dalhousie commercial core and harbour areas in April 2015 and hired a consultant a year later in April 2016.
The secondary plan provides land use policies, such as maximum building heights, aimed at guiding development in the area.
Lorelei Jones of consultant Macaulay Shiomi Howson Ltd. said new development applications submitted to the city before the secondary plan is adopted will be governed by existing official plan policies.
Hank Beekhuis, president of the Port Dalhousie Conservancy, told council there are four condo developments underway in the area and the city needs to worry about the total impact of all the developments together.
“We need and deserve a holistic approach rather than a piecemeal one. That’s what the secondary plan should be about,” he said.
Beekhuis said it was obvious the plan presented Monday was heavily influenced by the consideration of the proposed developments and those were driving the outcome, rather than public opinion. He said the plan appears to be accommodating those developments rather than just following good planning practices.
“The secondary plan should drive the developments. The developments should not drive the secondary plan as appears to be the case,” he said.
Beekhuis said it was highly unfortunate all the development proposals were in before the community decided what direction it wants to go in by approving the secondary plan. He said there’s still concerns with height, volume, parking and traffic in the area.
Johnston said council’s ordering of a secondary plan was proactive and progressive but the biggest gap was that it hadn’t been approved.
“This is upside down,” Johnston told council. “This is the cart before the horse. You’re closing the barn door when the horses got out.”
Resident Ed Smith echoed Johnston’s concerns about a delay, saying he was somewhat disappointed in the process which seemed to be “topsy-turvy.”
Council requested a city staff report in December explaining why the secondary plan was taking longer than expected.
A report from director of planning and building services Jim Riddell, included in council packages Monday, said the project has been “challenging” and staff were trying to strike a balance of all interests within the study — the public, council, development and property owners, heritage committees and Port Dalhousie Business Improvement Association.
Riddell’s report said planning staff were also delayed with other workload pressures. They included a housing action plan study approved in June 2017, the infill housing zoning bylaw study approved in May 2017, Niagara Region’s GO hub study and related secondary plan requiring city time, a rental housing licencing bylaw and work on the heritage grant program review.
Editor’s Note: Catherine Nasmith Architect was the heritage consultant for the HCD update done at the same time as the Secondary Plan.
18. The St. Johns Telegram: St. Johns council encouraging responsible demolition David Maher
Council wants to save valuable materials in doomed heritage homes
The Richmond Cottage property, which was built in 1848, will be torn down if it doesn't find a buyer by May 2017. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)
St. John’s city council wants to encourage developers to be responsible with their demolition and make sure valuable artifacts in heritage homes don’t end up in the trash when such homes are demolished.
A recommendation came from the Built Heritage Experts panel to encourage developers to give people a chance to save valuable materials inside heritage homes, should they have to be demolished in the future.
Development lead Coun. Maggie Burton says council isn’t trying to encourage the demolition of heritage homes, but rather trying to make sure historical items are saved should a home face the backhoe.
“In the case of Richmond Cottage, that beautiful spiral staircase in the middle of the home, perhaps that could have been repurposed and put into a new building somewhere else,” she said.