1. Canadas Tentative List for World Heritage Sites Parks Canada
Wanuskewin, one of the Tentative List for World Heritage Sites
42 Nominations for sites from across Canada were whittled down to 8 that will be going forward, which join an additional 6 that remain from the last update in 2004. The nomination process will be closed for 10 years. There is a list of the 42 applications which you can review, but no detail of the submissions. There is no information on the internal decision making that led to the final list. Most of the successful nominations are for very large and impressive natural sites or places of Indigenous significance. The exception to that is from Newfoundland, Hearts Content Cable Station, which is also a provincial historic site.
2. Toronto.com: Redevelopment of School Property at Bloor and Dufferin Justin Skinner
School will be demolished
Erella Ganon, a resident in the Bloor-Dufferin area, is concerned about the 30,000-square metre redevelopment at Bloor and Dufferin streets. - Justin Greaves/Metroland
A proposal to develop a former school property at the corner of Bloor and Dufferin streets has everyone from the councillor to businesses to residents crying foul over what they say is too much density and not enough in terms of community benefits.
The application calls for more than 2,200 residential units in a number of towers, including mid-rises and four high-rises ranging from 25 to 47 storeys in height, with more than 15,000 square metres of retail on the lower levels. The project would stretch from Bloor to Croatia Street on a 7.3-acre site.
Erella Ganon, a moderator at the Friends of Dufferin Park website, acknowledged that the area was slated to undergo growth, but said the community was promised a development that would provide community benefits, including a community hub. The application presented to city, she says, does not offer the promised perks.
“A canyon of towers with retail flagship stores at the bottom is not my idea of something that benefits the community,” she said.
“A canyon of towers with retail flagship stores at the bottom is not my idea of something that benefits the community.”
- Erella Ganon, Friends of Dufferin Park
Ganon noted that most of the surrounding area consists of three- and four-storey buildings, with the streetscape consisting largely of small, independent retailers. She said the proposed high rise development would alter the community immeasurably.
“Rents will triple and those little ma and pa stores will be gone,” she said.
She added that a community hub that was promised appears to have been scaled back as well.
“We were supposed to get a 30,000 sq.-ft. community hub with daycare spaces and a community centre. Now we find that the daycare spaces have been taken out of the community hub,” she said. “They’re putting the community hub into the basement of a building. I don’t feel they’re negotiating in good faith.”
Liz Lukashevsky, chair of the Bloordale BIA, said the proposal would spell doom for many small businesses in the area. While the proposal would bring a number of families into the area, the retail included in the proposal would cause plenty of hardship.
“If the small, independent businesses on Bloor Street are put into competition with large multinational businesses, a lot of them wouldn’t be able to survive,” she said. “It’s pretty much a mall (on the ground floor of the development.)”
It's just an oversized waiting room now: Knapsacks tossed on benches and expectant stares directed at the trio of elevator doors. Body language here says: "Hurry up at your appointment so we can leave."
123 Edward St., photographed in 1969. PANDA ASSOCIATES COLLECTION
But in 1964, the newly minted lobby of the Toronto Professional Building at 123 Edward St. was all about lingering. To wit: a curved, second-floor balcony serviced by twin floating staircases; a "flying saucer" information desk; by the window-wall, a shallow, burbling fountain; overhead, a complex, metal latticework of triangular domes featuring soft, hidden lighting; walls dressed in gorgeous purple and blue tile with gold accents; shiny floors of speckled blue terrazzo.
It was, says Steve Russell, co-author and editor of books published by the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, "a marvellous space.
"Very healing, water sounds. Beautiful."
Save for the terrazzo floors and the tile around the elevator doors on the second floor, it's all gone now. So perhaps it's better I can't ring up architect Eugene Janiss (1911-2004) to get his opinion. "He was very fussy about everything," confirms his only child, 75-year-old Vija Janiss Tripp. "Everything had to be just so."
At least the handsome, pleated curtain-walled exterior won't change; then again, in development-crazy Toronto, who knows?
Architect Eugene Janiss completed his doctorate in architecture and planning in Germany in 1947.
VIJA JANISS TRIPP
That Dr. Janiss while he received his bachelor's degree in his native Latvia in 1943, his doctorate in architecture and planning was completed in Germany in 1947 turned to fine art later in life is understandable, since no two buildings that sprung from his fertile drafting board were alike. All, however, were lovingly crafted as if formed out of sculpting clay. "He really admired the Guggenheim Museum in New York," Ms. Tripp says. "Everything that was kind of far out like that."
His churches were far out indeed. Viewed from above, Hilltop Chapel in Etobicoke is an abstracted fish, complete with tail; viewed from the sidewalk, it's a series of soft curves and recesses in brick, some now dressed in ivy. At Our Lady Queen of the World in Richmond Hill, Ont., the façade represents two praying hands (today, an expanded foyer obscures this). And, like a true artist, Dr. Janiss designed the furniture and light fixtures.
Hilltop Chapel in Etobicoke is shaped like an abstracted fish, complete with tail.
4. Heritage blog OHA+M relocates to UWaterloo Dan Schneider
OHA+M Moves to Waterloo
In The Blog Takes a Bow late last year I signalled that OHA+M would be relocating to the website of UWaterloos Heritage Resources Centre. Well, cest arrivé!
The hosting of the blog by the HRC was announced January 15 at the HRCs annual general meeting in Waterloo.
It goes without saying that I am thrilled by the move and the opportunity it represents.
I launched the blog three years ago, during Heritage Week 2015, with an article marking the 40th anniversary of the Ontario Heritage Act and the tenth anniversary of the 2005 overhaul of the act. With new articles every few weeks, the blog now boasts more than 70 posts on a wide range of topics. The focus from the start has been Ontarios legal and policy framework for cultural heritage as well as current public policy initiatives and issues.
Lets face it, serious discussion of heritage policy can be a bit dry and technical analysis of legislation, in particular, can make the eyes roll. While I try to keep things engaging and occasionally take a break from the heavy stuff altogether OHA+M is not for all tastes. A friend (?) recently referred to the blog as bigyawn.com! Haha.
Okay, it is a blog for heritage policy wonks. And, within that niche audience, the reception has been very gratifying. OHA+M has come to be seen as a respected source of information and commentary. Last October the blog earned its blogger an Award of Excellence for Heritage Education, Awareness and Scholarship from the Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals.
The new association with the Heritage Resources Centre is a great fit for OHA+M.
Many of you will be familiar with the centre and its former director, Robert Shipley. Robert retired last year, although continues to be involved with the HRC. The new director, Michael Drescher, is committed to strengthening the HRCs mandate. That mandate, according to the website, is to promote a better understanding of natural and human heritage for the improvement of planning management and public policy, through research, education, and extension work.
Michael says the collaboration on OHA+M will expand the HRCs role as ideas generator and centre for the discussion and debate of heritage legislation, policy and issues.
For my part the commitment of the HRC to house, manage and promote OHA+M marks a major turning point and takes the blog to a whole new level. Im excited to see how this works out.
What will change, besides a different address and new look? Not much from the reader's standpoint. But we do expect the commenting function will be friendlier, making it easier for readers to share their thoughts. If youve never commented on something you liked, didnt agree with, or thought something more could be said why not give it a try?
What you need to know: The old blog at the blogspot address will continue to exist but will essentially go dormant. This will be the last post to that site. From now on new posts will go up at this address, where all previous posts can also be found.
To continue to receive new posts, followers and subscribers of the blog (or me) will need to re-subscribe using the RSS Notifier app (at the upper right on the new home page).
Please re-subscribe we dont want to lose you. And if youre not a subscriber, theres no better time!
5. Globe and Mail: Laser Technology and Recording Heritage Ivan Semeniuk
Restoration, modernization of Parliament Hill buildings will give them an extraordinary second life
CARLETON IMMERSIVE MEDIA STUDIO
Every detail of Canada’s most iconic building – both inside and out – is scanned and documented in a three-dimensional database known as a building information model.
The first time Stephen Fai laid eyes on Parliament Hill, he was heading to architectural school in Ottawa. Having grown up on the Prairies, he had never seen anything quite like the tall, stately Peace Tower and the surrounding complex.
Blown away by the sight, his first reaction was to turn to his girlfriend (now his wife) and ask her how to say, "That is a beautiful building" in French.More than 30 years later, Dr. Fai is director of Carleton University's Immersive Media Studio. It is a digital playground where architectural dreams can be conjured up out of the ether of virtual reality – and where the Canada's Parliament Buildings have found an extraordinary second life.
With the Centre Block due to shut down this fall for a decade-long makeover, and the House of Commons and the Senate moving to temporary digs in the West Block and the nearby convention centre, respectively, preparations are well under way for the mother of all renovation projects. But even before the contractors get to work, Dr. Fai and his team have been busy with a suite of high-tech tools capturing every detail of the building so it can be recreated as a digital model that will serve as a reference for the project.
"It really is creating an 'as found' record as a starting point for the whole rehabilitation team," Dr. Fai said.
Carleton University professor Stephen Fai adjusts a 360-degree camera in the Library of Parliament. DAVE CHAN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL
In practice, the effort means that every detail of Canada's most iconic building – both inside and out – is scanned and documented in a three-dimensional database known as a building information model. Since the advent of computer-aided design, such an approach has become standard practice for new buildings. Starting nine years ago, with his involvement in a refurbishment project for the West Block, Dr. Fai pioneered the method as a way to aid in the restoration and modernization of heritage buildings. The approach includes using lasers and cameras that can scan and capture every architectural feature and detail, including those that are rarely seen up close. Using these data, Dr. Fai has developed what is essentially a digital representation of the building and all its parts. That representation, in turn, is a visual index in which every element is tagged so that engineers know what the element is made of, what it connects to, where it came from and – in the case of moveable objects such as paintings – where it is stored. Asked if the model is accurate enough that, in theory, someone could use it to reconstruct an entire life-size copy of the Parliament Buildings elsewhere, Dr. Fai said, without hesitation: "Yes."
6. Oshawa This Week: Former McLaughlin House at Risk Reka Szekely
Heritage Oshawa wants home associated with industrialist Robert McLaughlin preserved
OSHAWA -- Jane Clark and Heritage Oshawa are asking that the home at 195 Simcoe St. N. be designated as a heritage property. The house was once home to Robert McLaughlin, who founded the McLaughlin Carriage Company that later became General Motors Canada. February 12, 2018. - Ryan Pfeiffer / Metroland
OSHAWA Heritage Oshawa is asking city councillors to preserve a Simcoe Street North home that once
belonged to industrialist Robert McLaughlin whose company had a massive impact on the lives of Oshawans for decades.McLaughlin founded McLaughlin Carriage Works which would later become General Motors Canada under his son, RS "Sam" McLaughlin.At a development services committee last week, members of Heritage Oshawa asked the committee to consider a heritage designation for home located at 195 Simcoe St. N. The home sits within view of RS McLaughlins Parkwood mansion, a national historic site.
Speaking to the development services committee, Heritage Oshawa member Derek Grieve explained that Heritage Oshawa felt strongly about the buildings designation because of its association with McLaughlin as well as the fact that its one of the early homes constructed on Simcoe Street North.In addition to McLaughlin, who served as mayor of Oshawa, the house was also home to another former mayor, RH James.Jane Clark, also a member of Heritage Oshawa, spoke as well saying she was speaking on her own behalf and made an impassioned plea for the designation of the home.She pointed out the house was one of four homes associated with Robert McLaughlin in Oshawa and its the only one that remains standing.We havent done a very good job of taking care of Robert McLaughlins legacy so far, but perhaps we can redeem ourselves now, said Clark.
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.
8. 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.
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?
10. 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.
Editor’s Note: Photo is from a May 2017 CBC story. see, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/richmond-cottage-deadline-1.3991313
11. 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."
12. 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.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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.
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. 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.