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1. Stratford Beacon Harold: GTR Trainshed
2. Brantford Expositor: Onongaga Community Hall, J. Turner Architect to designate or demolish?
3. Toronto Star: Role of GG Nasmith in World War I
4. The Record: Council De-designates to permit demolition
5. Nasmith Avenue.com
6. K-W Record.com: Diocese withdraws application to demolish Sacred Heart convent building in Kitchener
7. Various: Monument to Victims of Communism
8. Toronto Star: The End of Viceroy Homes
9. CBC: Demolition by Neglect - Gore Park Buildings
10. National Post: The urban consquences of vanishing churches
11. James Russell Website: Critique of Conventional Placemaking
12. Owen Sound Sun Times: Branningham Grove April 14 decision day
13. Winnipeg Free Press: Endangered species: 90-year-old wooden barn one-of-a-kind in Western Canada

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1. Stratford Beacon Harold: GTR Trainshed
Mike Beitz

Riversedge Developments still hoping to realize its ambitious community-based plans for Cooper site

The developer behind the recently rejected proposal for the Cooper site in Stratford is still hoping to work with the city on the adaptive reuse of the former locomotive shops.

Council voted earlier this week to turn down the offer from Riversedge Developments to purchase the property for a nominal fee.

“We are very disappointed, definitely,” said Riversedge principal Paul Veldman in an interview earlier this week, “especially because of what the nature of our proposal was – to work hand in hand with council, the community and staff to determine what a public-private partnership would look like that has everyone’s interest in mind.”

Riversedge would have taken the lead on that collaborative process, he said.

“Generally, when a private company facilitates the process, it opens the door to look at things differently, and this is what we do,” he said. “I always say, we’re in the business of making the messy make sense. And this situation, for 15 years, has been very messy.”

Details of the Riversedge proposal have not been made widely available to the public, and since it involves the potential sale of municipal property, city council has only discussed it in closed-door sessions (which it’s entitled to do under the Municipal Act).

But Veldman spoke openly about the plan Thursday.

To put it simply, “our process is the plan,” he suggested.

The first step, he explained, would have been to make the site secure, at no cost to the city, and remove the fire-damaged portion of the building.

In that regard, the “nominal fee” for which the company hoped to obtain the property is not nominal at all, said Veldman.

“The reality is, the project today has a negative value,” he said, suggesting that it might cost millions to get the building in a safe condition.


2. Brantford Expositor: Onongaga Community Hall, J. Turner Architect to designate or demolish?
Michael-Allan Marion

BRANT COUNTY: The future of Onondaga Community Hall stirs debate


Should Onondaga Community Hall be demolished or designated a heritage property?

Brant Coun. Brian Coleman filed a notice of motion for Tuesday's county council meeting calling for the hall be "demolished and that the lands be utilized as a greenspace, with a commemorative marker of the hall to be erected."

Meantime, a report from the county's heritage committee recommending the hall's designation is due to be discussed at council's planning advisory committee May 5.

Noting that he filed his notice of motion before he knew about the heritage report, Coleman, who represents the ward that contains the building, said Monday that he is willing to wait a month to give councillors and the public a chance to discuss the report.

"Another month won't matter," he said.

"I don't like the municipality to have to continue to bear a cost to keep a building that people aren't really using and has problems. That's my concern."

In his notice of motion, Coleman noted that the hall is located in an area regulated for steep erosion-prone slopes under the Grand River Conservation Authority.

He also referenced a staff report that stated that marketing the community hall is not in the best interest of the county because of its location and deteriorated condition.

Earlier this month, council's corporate development committee rejected a negotiated agreement that would have transferred the building's ownership for $1 to the Langford Conservancy, which wants to turn it into a community centre. At the time, councillors heard a presentation from a group of motorcycle enthusiasts proposing to buy the building and renovate it into a clubhouse.


Editor’s Note: The work of John Turner is important to the region, and to the province. This finely proportioned and exquisitely detailed building deserves to be retained and designated! Take a page from successful RFP for the Tremont Hotel in Collingwood, I am sure that many would jump at the chance to operate a business or facility here, for less than the cost of demolition. NOTE Re: J. Turner architect see Robert G. Hill, http://www.dictionaryofarchitectsincanada.org/node/1370 see also, Paul Dilse, JOHN TURNER AND ENGLISH ARCHITECTURAL INFLUENCE IN SOUTHWESTERN ONTARIO. SSAC Vol. 10(3) September 1985 pp.3-7 http://sextondigital.library.dal.ca/jssac/PDFs/Bulletin/Vol_10/vol10_no3_OCR_150dpi_PDFA1b.pdf

3. Toronto Star: Role of GG Nasmith in World War I
Mitch Potter

Toronto sanitation expert identified poison gas used at Ypres

When chivalry died in the trenches of Ypres a century ago with the dawn of chemical warfare, Canada didn’t know what hit it.

Day after day, conflicting reports grappled with the nature of the greenish-yellow noxious cloud that descended upon the Western Front in the late afternoon of April 22, 1915.

“Various Vapors Used By Enemy To Asphyxiate,” was the headline of one Canadian Press dispatch a week after the fact. “Howitzers Used To Throw Poisons,” said the subhead.

Then, on May 3, an even deeper shock: the first published accounts of how “the gates of hell opened and three Canadian brigades were pushed in” to hold the crumbling lines at Ypres against Germany’s new secret weapon. The Canadian toll: More than 6,000 killed, wounded and missing in “three days of terrific horror.”

For Toronto Star readers, the gas mystery unravelled the morning of May 15, in a Page One interview from the front with a well-known eyewitness who had more than a passing knowledge of chemistry.


Editor’s Note: I know its rude to brag about your relatives, but just this once. GG Nasmith was my grandfather's first cousin, and had no descendants.

4. The Record: Council De-designates to permit demolition
Hannah Eden

Kitchener's Mayfair Hotel demolition gets green light

KITCHENER — City council voted Thursday to remove heritage protection from the former Mayfair hotel, paving the way for its imminent demolition.

The vote to withdraw the city's notice of intention to designate the Mayfair came despite an effort by Coun. Frank Etherington to defer the vote to buy time for an independent assessment by a heritage expert on the potential to save the building.

Councillors debated the decision for three hours, and almost every councillor expressed sadness and disappointment at the decision.

"It's a shame that we're here," said Coun. Bill Ioannidis. "But when there is overwhelming evidence that the building is unsafe, we cannot ignore that."

Etherington urged a deferral to allow a heritage expert to comment on what it might cost to save the building, or at least a portion of it such as the King Street façade, saying he had campaigned to "preserve and protect Kitchener's few remaining heritage buildings."

He had asked for a short delay of 10 days, until city committee meetings on May 4, after the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario said it had experts who could work quickly to do a heritage assessment.

The city has a long legacy of seeing heritage buildings demolished, Etherington said, listing the losses of the old city hall; the Barra Castle, a strikingly unusual home on Queen Street South; the Forsyth shirt factory; and several buildings associated with the Lang Tannery.

But others rejected the proposal for a heritage report as unrealistic, after the city had received two expert opinions already and after it became clear that no one would be allowed to enter the building to carry out an inspection.



Editor’s Note: The situation is eerily like the Tremont in Collingwood Ontario, which thanks to Rick and Anke Lex is enjoying new life as an arts centre.

5. Nasmith Avenue.com
Keith Lawrance, a curious resident of Nasmith Avenue in Toronto

Nasmith Avenue History

April 22, 2015 - Have you ever been curious as to how Nasmith Avenue got its name? Well, today is an important day for that question as it's 100 years to the day of a significant event in Canadian history that might be related to the "Nasmith" of Nasmith Avenue.

Nasmith Avenue is a relatively "new" street in the Cabbagetown / Don Vale neighbourhood of Toronto. Before Europeans arrived in the area, the Anishnabai (Ojibwa), Haudenosaune (Iroquois), Huron, Eries, Petuns and Neutrals met in this region to trade, hold councils and to conduct ceremonies. Once Fort Toronto / Fort Rouillé was founded, the migration of europeans to Toronto (renamed to York and then back again) began.

The area now known as Cabbagetown, once considered to be the outskirts of the city, started to be settled in larger numbers during the 1800s and local lore has it that Irish immigrants, escaping famines and poverty in Ireland, grew cabbages and other vegetables in their front gardens which certainly makes sense from a practical perspective.

Many of the homes in Cabbagetown were built during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837 - 1901), however Nasmith Avenue saw its first homes occupied in 1926 (you can read the exact year and learn about the original occupants using the Cabbagetown Heritage Conservation District's excellent searchable database). Therefore, Nasmith Avenue could be considered a "new block on the block".





Editor’s Note: No doubt Nasmiths find this story more interesting than some, but I am including it as it contains quite a bit of interesting Toronto history too!I am most grateful to the residents for pulling together this research.

6. K-W Record.com: Diocese withdraws application to demolish Sacred Heart convent building in Kitchener
Catherine Thompson


KITCHENER — The Diocese of Hamilton has decided to withdraw its application to demolish the 1927 Sacred Heart convent building, after Kitchener's heritage committee moved to protect the building with a heritage designation.

"We're ready to work with you and that is why we've withdrawn the application," said Douglas Crosby, the bishop of Hamilton diocese, who came to city council Monday.

The city also shelved its plans to designate the property, "to provide the city and the diocese time to find a solution that will meet the needs of the diocese while conserving the building," said Leon Bensason, the city's co-ordinator of heritage planning.

The agreement buys time to find a solution, but does not prevent the diocese from applying at a later date to tear the building down, or the city from moving then to designate.

But the bishop warned he would "protest vigorously the designation of heritage when and if it comes back to council, and I want you to know that."

The city's heritage committee had moved to designate the convent, as well as the 1916 Sacred Heart church and a number of associated buildings on the property at

Moore Avenue and Shanley Street. The building housed the Sisters of Notre Dame, who taught at the Catholic school next door, until 1985, and has been used by a number of Catholic community groups.

But the convent has sat empty since 2008, and the diocese says it needs the 20 or so parking spaces the site would yield. The church has only seven parking spaces now.

"We do not make decisions about tearing down buildings frivolously or carelessly," Crosby told council. But, he said, the diocese's role isn't "to create and preserve museums. We're trying to promote parishes that thrive," and the reality is churches today need parking. The convent building "is in a state of great disrepair," he noted.

"We have to work together to move into the future," Crosby said. "Everything isn't historically valuable. We need to work together to determine really what is …"


7. Various: Monument to Victims of Communism
Many, thanks to Barry Podolsfky for assembling the list of links

Many, Many Articles and Widespread Concern about this Design Mis-Step

Ottawa Citizen Article March 24,2015

How John Baird erased "totalitarian" from the Victims of Communism Memorial

 Globe and Mail article March 25,2015 


 Globe and Mail article March 26,2015 


 Globe and Mail  letters to the editor:  March 27,2015 

 March 27: Monumental dissent on Victims of Communism memorial – and other letters to the editor

 Globe and Mail article Saturday March 28,2015 (Jeff Simpson) 

 Read this on The Globe and Mail

Harper’s monumental determination
Why, despite a chorus of opposition, is the Prime Minister pushing ahead with the plan for an Ottawa memorial to victims of communism? Politics and determination

CBC National Radio (The 180 with Jim Brown) Sunday March 29,2015




Globe and Mail editorial March 30,2015 

 From The Globe and Mail: 

The Victims of Communism Memorial: Right idea, wrong place

 Ottawa Citizen article March 30,2015 (Don Butler) 

 The NCC changed its donor recognition policy after groups claimed it made fundraising hard


French coverage of Canadian Bar Association statement:


Interview with the Move the Memorial petition founder:



Editor’s Note: Many professional organizations that rarely take political positions have weighed in, I was pleased to see the Ontario Association of Architects (I am a member) join in expressing concern about the chosen location and the variance from a long standing plan for the National Capital Precinct.

8. Toronto Star: The End of Viceroy Homes
Susan Pigg

Hammers go silent at Viceroy Homes

They are as iconic as cottage country sunsets.

For 60 years Viceroy Homes have been distinctive fixtures atop the granite cliffs of Muskoka or centrepieces of sprawling properties across Canada.

They are Canadiana at its best.

Fashioned out of British Columbia lumber, with signature soaring windows and massive beams, some 70,000 Viceroy Homes have been built since the company was founded in 1955 and shipped in ready to assemble packages as far away as Japan, Korea, Spain, France and Germany.

But for weeks now, Viceroy’s two plants — one in Port Hope, the other in Richmond, B.C. — have been effectively shut down and more than 130 employees have been trying to figure out if they will ever build the makings of another Viceroy home.

“It’s been a mystery to everyone,” says Lou Rinaldi, the MPP for Northumberland-Quinte West which includes the Port Hope plant that has 100 or so employees at peak building season. The Richmond factory, built to service what was expected to be a hot Asian market for the classic wood homes, has another 30 or 40 employees.


Editor’s Note: I've had to modify a few over the years....these are iconic across the country, sad to see the demise of another fine Canadian company

9. CBC: Demolition by Neglect - Gore Park Buildings

'Demolition by neglect': Gore buildings rotting away

Raise the Hammer photo, Gore Park Buildings in 2013

A strip of historic buildings lining Gore Park has endured two frigid winters exposed to the elements without heat, and now it's just a matter of time before they rot away, says the city's former head of heritage planning.

This lengthy saga between the city and Wilson Blanchard is turning into just what some feared – demolition by neglect, says Philip Hoad, the city's former manager of Heritage Facilities and Capital Planning.

"Leaving a building vacant and unheated is going to exponentially increase its deterioration," Hoad told CBC Hamilton. "The constant freeze-thaw cycle just blows apart the building materials."

'Now we build cheap so we can rape and pillage as much out of this stuff as we can – and then we die.'
- Philip Hoad, former city manager of Heritage Facilities and Capital planning
"These century buildings are what gives a city its heart and soul. Well, the whole character and heart of the city has been ripped out and we're still ripping it out."

Hughson Business Space Corporation owns 18-28 King Street East, and bought the historic 19th century properties in 2000. The developer tried to demolish the buildings back in 2013, but a sudden city heritage designation halted the process.

Since then, it has been a back and forth between the city and developer David Blanchard over what to do with the buildings, and if pieces of them can be saved.


10. National Post: The urban consquences of vanishing churches
Natalie Bull

Places of faith often meet an array of community needs, such as soup kitchens, shelters and low-cost space for non-profits.

On Sunday, members of Ottawa’s largest downtown synagogue closed its doors for the last time, carrying holy Torah scrolls from their sacred ark to their new temporary location 10 kilometres away. After annual losses reportedly in the order of $200,000, Beth Shalom’s congregation sold their building to a developer for $15 million, and will soon see it demolished to make way for commercial space and residential condos.

The Beth Shalom congregation is just one of hundreds of faith groups grappling with big real-estate decisions these days, in the face of dwindling attendance and rising property costs. Canada’s towns, cities and rural areas are already facing an epidemic of uncertainty and change for churches, synagogues and other faith buildings, and it will only get bigger.

Managing more than 27,000 properties, faith groups are the second largest real-estate holder in Canada after the government of Canada itself. Their real-estate assets include landmark places that anchor and shape our communities. Thousands have already been sold, converted to new uses, or demolished, and an estimated 9,000 more will be on the chopping block in the next few years.

This tsunami of sweeping change for faith groups and their buildings has serious implications on many levels: As vessels of history, heritage and collective memory, and as neighbourhood anchors, these buildings matter to many to more than just the faithful. What happens to them willaffect planning and place-making on a massive scale.

There are big social consequences too: places of faith often meet an array of community needs beyond their spiritual mission, such as soup kitchens, shelters and low-cost space for non-profit partners. Case in point: Beth Shalom’s closure displaced no fewer than 18 local charities.

For downtown churches, the option to cash in on land value and development potential has its appeal, but turning a community asset into private property can be painful for parishioners and the broader community alike. At the other end of the spectrum, there are inspiring examples of congregations that have kept the doors open and found new sustainability through creative partnerships, generating new revenue and at the same time expanding their mission and impact.


11. James Russell Website: Critique of Conventional Placemaking
James S. Russell

Enough of Bogus Placemaking


The Campbell Fitness Center at Columbia University’s sports complex at the northern tip of Manhattan looks strange to a lot of people. But the more you know the context–an elevated train rattles past it; industrial uses collide with with residential and institutional ones—the more you appreciate why its unconventional form is so right for its place. The building, on paper, could have been a windowless box, walling off Columbia’s athletic complex from the residential blocks as earlier buildings (and the regrettable new fence) do. Instead it opens views to athletic fields and the hills of the South Bronx beyond, and plays off the grey-metal counterweight of the Broadway Bridge (which is just out of this photo). Its sculpted volume and zigzagging stairs recognize the industrial pragmatism of the surroundings while making a boring, emptied street intersection come to jazzy life.


Editor’s Note: Not sure if his book, The Agile City, is in the category of great or know thy enemy. I've ordered a copy to find out. Shawn Micaleff recommends.

12. Owen Sound Sun Times: Branningham Grove April 14 decision day

Committee recommends starting process to designate Branningham Grove

The owners of Branningham Grove in Owen Sound would fight any move by city council to designate the historic structure under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Louis Gavaris, an agent for the landowner Halton Place Horse & Country, made those comments Thursday after the citys community planning and heritage advisory committee voted to recommend that council serve notice of its intention to protect the 134-year-old building under provincial legislation, which, if approved, would stave off a planned demolition.

The land has no value if the old house must remain standing, Gavaris said in an interview.

I sold the property in good faith in 1997 to be developed, to move forward with no strings attached. All of a sudden, public comes along and says theyre taking control of somebody elses future. How is that possible?

He said he does not believe the building  which served as a summertime brothel from 1907 to 1915 and a steakhouse from 1977 to 1997  has enough historical or architectural significance to preserve.

An inspection of the property on 16th St. E. by GM Blueplan Engineering Ltd. recommends the structure be demolished, based on an assessed value of $374,500 and the cost to renovate it.


13. 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.