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1. Apollo Magazine: Monuments Men
2. The Guardian: Erosion of Edinburgh's World Heritage Features
3. Toronto Star: Travel Exhibit Celebrates Confederation
4. Toronto Star: Toronto School Closings
5. Toronto Star: California Craftsman bungalows
6. Toronto Star: Could Huronia hospital become a Banff Centre of the east?
7. Winnipeg Free Press: Endangered species: 90-year-old wooden barn one-of-a-kind in Western Canada

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1. Apollo Magazine: Monuments Men
Peter Stone

With so many archaeological and cultural sites at risk in war zones around the world, is enough being done to protect them? And what can we learn from the mistakes that led to the looting in Iraq in 2003?

One of six vehicles destroyed by a NATO strike outside the relatively untouched Roman fort at Ras Almargeb, Libya in 2011. Photo: © Joseph Kila

Between these words being written and read, cultural property, including buildings, archaeological sites, libraries, archives, and art will have been damaged or destroyed across the world as the result of armed conflict. More will have been looted and sold illegally. The illicit trade in antiquities, much of which is looted during armed conflict, is suggested to be the third largest international crime network (after guns and drugs) and has helped to fund conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

Cultural property is destroyed or damaged in four ways: through ‘traditional’ looting by the military (and others associated with the victor) of the heritage of the vanquished foe; through collateral damage (e.g. the destruction of entire historic areas in the World Wars, and recently in Syria); through military negligence (e.g. the use of Babylon and Ur in Iraq as military bases by Coalition troops, and the use of the Crac des Chevaliers in Syria by forces opposing the current regime); and through the targeting of a site for the cultural affiliations it displays (e.g. in the Balkan Wars in the 1990s, and more recently in Mali and northern Iraq).

Most of us simply accept this situation as an unfortunate but inevitable consequence of war and think little more of it. However, this has not always been the reaction. Nearly every military strategist of the last 2,000 years, from Sun Tzu to Clausewitz, has argued that looting the heritage of a vanquished enemy is a poor military and political tactic as it will create lasting hatred and a simmering cause for the reignition of conflict. And at least some of the recent destruction could be avoided if the military and politicians took the protection of cultural property during conflict more seriously.

During the American Civil War the Lieber Code became the first legal instrument to protect cultural property and a number of international meetings and conventions followed that began to formulate the legal protection of cultural property during conflict. This activity was noted in the Second World War by the Allies, who set up the Monuments, Fine Art and Archives unit (the ‘Monuments Men’) to try to safeguard and repatriate as much of the cultural heritage of Europe and the Far East as possible. Officers commanding units in the Italian and Normandy invasions, for example, were specifically ordered not to allow cultural property to be destroyed through collateral damage unless there was no other military option.

At the end of the Second World War the international community reacted to the massive destruction of cultural property by producing the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and an associated Protocol. The Convention adopted a blue shield as an emblem to identify cultural property to be protected. The idea of protecting cultural sites and artefacts during armed conflict slipped from the agenda during the Cold War; the issue only became international news again after the deliberate targeting of cultural sites in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. A second Protocol to the Convention was produced in 1999. This made it possible for the deliberate destruction of, or damage to, cultural property to become a criminal offence.


2. The Guardian: Erosion of Edinburgh's World Heritage Features
David Black

Why Edinburgh should be stripped of its Unesco world heritage status

Central Edinburgh, stunningly beautiful

It’s easy to see why Edinburgh, one of Britain’s most beautiful cities, is a magnet to visitors from across the world. It is also a place that instils pride and affection in those, like myself, who are native to it. Yet, this is a city that consistently undervalues its best asset: its historic centre.

It seems remarkable that Edinburgh’s unique architectural character should be at risk. It was the largely unspoilt juxtaposition of Old and New Towns that persuaded Unesco to grant it world heritage status in 1995. Yet the destruction during the 20 years since poses an interesting question: is Unesco world heritage status worth the paper it’s printed on?

Edinburgh’s role as a quality European destination underpins its economy, bringing in an annual £1.6bn to its coffers and its architectural heritage plays a huge role in this. That is why I am submitting a report to members of the UN Board of Auditors at Unesco headquarters in New York next month (assuming they’re prepared to listen) in a bid to persuade them to overturn the city’s world heritage status.


Editor’s Note: I sympathize with Mr. Black's frustration.....he has no doubt worked tirelessly to preserve his beloved city. Both my husband and I studied there and have a life long love for the city, visiting every couple of years. It is stunningly beautiful, almost unbelievably so.

3. Toronto Star: Travel Exhibit Celebrates Confederation
Nicholas Keung

Immigrants' Day 1 in Canada captured in travelling Pier 21 exhibit

A series of “firsts” has marked every newcomer’s arrival in Canada, regardless of era or country of origin.

Perhaps the first plane trip, the first winter, the first sight of Canada arriving at a port in Halifax, the first encounter with a countryman from the same homeland, the first English class, the first time of realizing, ‘I belong.”

There are also the stories of the first job landed, the first home, the first taste of freedom, the first day of official citizenship and even the first confrontation with racism and discrimination.

These experiences and impressions, told through the recollections of immigrants, are vividly captured in a travelling exhibit, Canada: Day 1, presented by The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, on display at the Markham Museum until June.

“Day 1 in Canada is an official and personal rite of passage for immigrants. It is something that everybody can relate to quickly and opens the doorways for different insights into all the big issues on immigration,” said Dan Conlin, the exhibit’s curator.

“We have the audios and videos of immigrants sharing their powerful stories. There are a lot of funny and touching moments, but they are not all happy stories. There are also many challenging aspects to their experiences.”

Housed in a 15,000-square-foot exhibit area at the museum, just northwest of 16th Ave. and Markham Rd., the multimedia exhibition is divided into four sections: Arrivals, Encounters, Finding Your Way and Reflections.

With a $500,000 gift from the RBC Foundation, the national immigration museum has collected personal stories from more than 1,000 immigrants across Canada through its oral history program.


4. Toronto Star: Toronto School Closings
Louise Brown

Majority of schools on TDSB hit list in poorer neighbourhoods

More than two-thirds of the elementary schools the Toronto District School Board plans to consider for closure or merging over the next few years due to falling enrolment are in the city’s poorer neighbourhoods — threatening upheaval for students who already face steep odds, warns a report to be released Monday by the Elementary Teachers of Toronto.

“For some of these vulnerable kids, school is the safest place they’ll be all day and they often have an incredible sense of community, but if these kids are split up and sent to schools without that support, it could derail them,” warned John Smith, president of the ETT, the largest local in the provincial teachers’ union.

The TDSB is under enormous pressure to start closing some of its 130 schools that are less than 65 per cent full, on orders from Education Minister Liz Sandals, who has demanded a three-year plan for closing schools by Friday.

The board has approved a 10-year capital plan that identifies 60 schools for possible closure across 17 under-enrolled neighbourhoods by 2021, with 31 of those schools clustered in nine neighbourhoods to be reviewed in the first three years.


5. Toronto Star: California Craftsman bungalows
Solvej Schou Associated Press,

Love affair thats endured for a century

I grew up in Hollywood, in one of those low-slung, early 20th-century, Arts and Crafts-era homes known for their clean, horizontal lines and sturdy woodwork. It was outfitted with dark, wooden, built-in cabinets and exposed beams.

My family lives in one in South Pasadena, northeast of downtown Los Angeles  we rent a small, century-old Craftsman house here in the citys landmark district, Bungalow Heaven. The 16-block neighbourhood is home to more than 1,000 historic bungalows, most of them Craftsmans.

Each traditional Craftsman house is different and unique, with its own personality  in ours, the toilet is in a separate room from the bathroom sink and tub.

Theres an emphasis on natural materials and colours, from slate grey to clay brown.

Architectural twists such as sleeping porches, wide-open entrances and pillars made from stone were built as a minimalist reaction against industrial design and as an ode to warmer weather and (then) fresher air.

Decorating a Craftsman is also a labour of love. The whole Craftsman movement was about rediscovering handmade things, says Sue Mossman, executive director of the preservation non-profit Pasadena Heritage.

Theres a natural form-follows-function approach. Everything has a purpose to it, as well as a beauty.

Gustav Stickley, who started making Arts and Crafts-style furniture and accessories in the late 1800s, has long represented the pinnacle of Craftsman design. Antique Stickley hand-finished, solid-wood armchairs, tables and couches, defined by a sleek vertical-lined mission style, can run upwards of $5,500 (all prices U.S.) today.

In the 1980s an 90s, the value of these antique pieces went through the roof, says Mossman, who lives in a traditional Craftsman and owns a couple of Stickley pieces. It has dropped off since then, but the value of original pieces is still very high.

Since my family cant afford the prized brand, we searched for much less-pricey, though not necessarily handmade, furniture and decorations for our place. There are strong connections between the Craftsman and mid-century modern movements when it comes to simple functionalism, says Mossman.

We found a modestly priced, tan 1963 Lane Acclaim walnut wood coffee table with dovetail edges at an antique store to fit in with the earthy Craftsman colour scheme in our living room.

Our faux-Craftsman, geometric mica glass, wood and metal living room table lamp we snagged on sale for $150 to perch on top of a Wildon Home mission-style, espresso-hued end table for not much more.

Bought at a nearby sofa store, our couch is made from chocolate-brown wood and tweed, a mid-century modern reproduction called The Draper. Our vintage living room rug is a 1960s striped blend of warm orange, green, pink and white.

We also picked up glass vases, Arts and Crafts-style wooden frames and dinnerware from flea markets and online through Etsy and eBay. Call it Craftsman flair with a dash of Mad Men thrown in.

Even if its a reproduction, people who appreciate the character of their house will be able to pick things that suit that same personality, notes Mossman.

Inspiration especially came from a trip to the custom-furnished, three-storey Gamble House, Pasadenas premier example of California Craftsman architecture. It was designed by the architectural firm Greene & Greene in 1908 as a roomy winter home for David and Mary Gamble, of Procter & Gamble.


6. Toronto Star: Could Huronia hospital become a Banff Centre of the east?
Martin Knelman

Could Huronia hospital become a Banff Centre of the east?


Could Orillia’s shuttered Huronia Regional Centre, which had a nightmare history as one of Ontario’s most hellish psychiatric hospitals, be reborn as a heavenly oasis for culture, creativity and innovation?

Yes, definitely, says futuristic business guru Don Tapscott, who grew up in Orillia. So does Canada’s most famous writer, Margaret Atwood.

Tapscott and Atwood are among the growing list of notables who have enthusiastically joined a campaign started by veteran Toronto artist Charles Pachter to turn the 200-acre site — which boasts meadows, forest, grassland, rolling hills, heritage buildings and 1,500 metres of waterfront on the shores of Lake Simcoe — into a kind of Banff Centre of the east. It would be known as the Huronia Cultural Campus.


7. Winnipeg Free Press: Endangered species: 90-year-old wooden barn one-of-a-kind in Western Canada
Bill Redekop

It was originally a dairy barn, with cattle on one side and work horses on the other. The main floor is close to 5,000 square feet and the loft doubles that. It still has the original concrete floors.

PHOTOS BY BILL REDEKOP / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Curtis Gervin and his massive barn that was built in 1924

BROOMHILL -- To rebuild Curtis Gervin's 90-year-old barn today -- believed to be the only two-siloed wooden barn still standing in Western Canada -- would cost more than $1 million, he estimates.

But in 1924, two brothers from Chicago spared no expense.

Albert and Ephraim Ivers went to southwestern Manitoba and purchased 1,600 acres of crop land. That's an extraordinary land holding, about 10 times the size of most farms back when people still cropped quarter sections (160 acres).

Then they built the most extravagant barn with top-of-line technology, including two built-in wood silos, a wooden air-duct system and a railing system for manually moving the feed bucket from stall to stall.

Then they went broke, as farms so often do when they are financed by investors from the city. But they left behind one amazing barn.

The barn near Broomhill, south of Virden and more than 300 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg, is featured in Bob Hainstock's Barns of Western Canada, the definitive work on these pastoral works of architecture.

"You have to remember the 1920s were a boom time in agriculture. Adjusted for inflation, the price for a bushel of wheat was about $35," said Gervin, of the Iver brothers' attempt to capitalize on the farm economy. "Western Canada was opening up and investors had the idea to buy land and make a fortune when it appreciated."

Many old barns have collapsed since being archived in Hainstock's book from 1985, but not Gervin's. He's already spent $30,000 replacing the roof. It still had its original cedar shingles.

"This one's lucky. I don't know if it's built better. I do believe what kills a building is not using it."

His barn is still very functional, used for calving 800 cows. He has added some modern touches, such as three calving cameras to monitor for birthing problems.