acorn nutshell
Through advocacy and direct action the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO) has been involved in preserving Ontario's architectural and environmental heritage since 1933. Donate to the ACO here. Contact the ACO here. Visit our Website here.
Presenting the 2012 ACO Awards
Susan Ratcliffe

 President Susan Ratcliffe writes:


Across Ontario, many individuals and groups work passionately to save their community heritage treasures, and we salute their work and their achievements.


This year we are excited to introduce four new awards that reflect changes in our heritage work. First, to properly acknowledge owners who respect their heritage buildings while adapting them for contemporary uses, is the Paul Oberman Award for Adaptive Reuse, named for a leading exemplar of that practice whose projects demonstrated financial acumen as well as sensitivity and good taste.


Our second new award recognizes members ACO's energetic group of emerging professionals, who have dubbed themselves the NextGen. Their enthusiasm and involvement shows great promise for the future of heritage advocacy. Third, knowing that our efforts depend on public awareness-that the media in all its forms is critical to helping us tell our story-we are pleased to honour special contributions in journalism, writing, or new media. Finally, because we are seeing more and more fine buildings built in our lifetimes threatened with demolition, and because such buildings will be the built heritage of the future, ACO has established the Post-1945 Design Award to raise awareness of their value and in the hope of helping to preserve these future classics.


We applaud not only our winners but also our nominees; their passion and commitment has contributed immensely to the heritage work that absorbs us all. Thanks also to the nominators who cared enough to recognize their achievements. 


The awards will be presented at our gala dinner and presentation this Friday at the Arts and Letters Club.

James D. Strachan Award for Craftsmanship


This award is given for outstanding craftsmanship on a restoration project in Ontario. It recognizes projects for which, along with the historic fabric, the intangible heritage of artisanal craft and material has been preserved. 



Recipient: Andrew Skuce, Paradigm Shift Customs, Paris, Ontario


In the 1930s, a handful of Art Moderne homes were built in Hamilton, many designed by Edward Glass. With their curved lines, flat roofs, railings and portholes, all resembled sparkly great white ships. By 2010 most had been demolished or so altered as to be unrecognizable.


One that was still standing was purchased by Martin Herring, who so admired the style that he determined to restore it. This was not an easy task. Over the years, the house had become smothered in vines and shrubbery; its rotting windows, clamped shut with layers of old paint and ivy, harboured carpenter ants. Work proceeded on upgrading the home's wiring, plumbing, and other basic systems, and on restoring the original quartz-stucco exterior, the outside Art Deco door surround with its ziggurat accents and ogee curve, the built-in breakfast nook, and the rare rustic National Park-style family room with its concrete log walls and fireplace. But when it came to the wooden windows, contractor after contractor claimed they had to be scrapped and replaced.


Luckily, Martin found Andrew Skuce, owner of Paradigm Shift Customs in Paris, Ontario whose specialty is heritage windows and doors. Andrew, whose passion for the house matched Martin's, said all should-and could-be saved. Because the original casement windows opened outward, he installed innovative, high-performing interior storms (a first in Canada) with original-matched brass hardware. These storms, with honeycomb blinds, made the restored windows more energy efficient than modern replacements.


Speaking with Globe & Mail critic Dave Leblanc about how he got into the heritage restoration business, Andrew explained, "No one was taking care of this stuff. The whole idea is just 'rip it out, replace it, new is better, old is garbage,' but then I realized if old is garbage, how come it lasts 130 years, and with the new stuff, you're lucky if it lasts 10 or 20?" For his great insight and fine workmanship, ACO is pleased to present Andrew Skuce with the James D. Strachan Award for Craftsmanship.

 Peter Stokes Restoration Award


The Peter Stokes Award recognizes those responsible for the exemplary restoration of significant heritage structures, undertaken in accordance with the accepted policies and practices of heritage conservation in Ontario.


old surgery    

Recipient: John and Mich�le Harding for The Old Surgery, Prescott


When John and Mich�le Harding purchased the 1830s house at 305 Centre Street in Prescott in 2010, it had long been neglected. Its original stone walls were buried under later cladding and by so much ivy that the building looked more like a bush than a house.


Neighbours of the centrally located house were delighted to learn that the eyesore was at last to be repaired. What they may not have realized was just how much care the Hardings would lavish on the former surgery. In just six months, the original stone had been uncovered, repaired, and cleaned; the windows had been rebuilt or replaced with handmade replicas; and every surface had been straightened, cleaned, repaired, or replaced to match the original house as closely as possible while still accommodating modern functions, requirements, and appliances. 


Although known as The Old Surgery for the two doctors who long practised there, the building might be called The Mayors' House. It was first lived in by William Dunn, a tailor, who served as the town's mayor for almost a quarter of a century starting in the mid-1800s. At the turn of the 20th century, the house passed from the Dunn family to the McPhersons. Dr. Charles McPherson, who was later appointed Medical Officer of Health and Granville County Coroner, used it as his surgery until he retired at 92 in the 1960s. McPherson's brother-in-law, William J. Taugher, joined the practice in 1918, and later-like William Dunn-became Prescott's mayor. 


Prescott's Heritage Committee nominated the house for ACO's Peter Stokes Restoration Award, pointing out that it is a piece of living history, as "many older residents vividly remember being brought to the Surgery as young children." Dr. McPherson, too, is readily recalled by the community; its health centre was named in his honour in 1981. Now the surgery is back in working order, contributing "to a renewed pride and awareness of preserving other heritage buildings."

Paul Oberman Award for Adaptive Reuse


The Paul Oberman Award recognizes those responsible for projects that highlight and incorporate significant heritage structures in fitting and imaginative ways, thereby conserving them for future use and enjoyment.

maple leaf gardens     

Recipient: E.R.A. Architects for Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto


Recognized as a National Historic Site, Maple Leaf Gardens has been a hub of civic life for over 80 years. It was home to the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey club from 1931 until 1999, and host to a wide variety of large public gatherings, from operas to Elvis to political rallies.


The adaptive reuse project undertaken by E.R.A. for Ryerson University and Loblaws Properties retained the building's external shell, including its central dome, while removing most of the interior structure below the roof. New floor levels built inside the existing envelope allow the converted, mixed-use building to house a grocery/caf� at street level and Ryerson's sports complex above-including a full gymnasium and a new, smaller hockey arena on the uppermost level, centred beneath the dome. Original storefront openings were restored, enlivening the adjacent streetscape.


From the outset, E.R.A. was involved as the Heritage Architects, developing a strategy for reconciling the new construction with the existing heritage fabric, and for the extensive municipal negotiations needed to obtain municipal permits to allow the insertion of the contemporary program. Restoration of the building envelope was a major component of the work, including extensive masonry remediation, steel window replacement, and renovation of the iconic Carlton Street marquee. As well, a Heritage Interpretation Plan was developed that interweaves a celebration of the history of the Gardens throughout the contemporary spaces.


ACO sees this adaptive reuse project as a win-win-win: the city and neighbourhood win in that a gargantuan, block-scale, shuttered void is now once again a vibrant community amenity. The building's new owners win, having cutting edge facilities bearing a significant heritage pedigree in the heart of downtown. And the building itself wins, having received millions of dollars of restoration work and a significant investment in interpretation.

 Post-1945 Design Award

ACO's new Post-1945 Design Award is given to an architect, engineer, planner, or landscape architect whose body of work is esteemed by professional peers and the general public alike as being outstanding, enduring, and worthy of preservation for future generations. It recognizes that because architecture, planning, and landscape design are lively arts, constantly changing, drawing inspiration from the past and looking ahead to the future, there will come a time when modern and postmodern work will be deemed of great heritage value. 


By honouring contemporary designers whose work is largely extant, ACO hopes to broaden appreciation of the ways in which design has and will always blend utilitarian demands with aesthetic inventiveness. As newer buildings become increasingly subject to disfiguring alteration and vulnerable to thoughtless demolition, it is imperative that the best exemplars of contemporary work be acknowledged as having a place in the heritage of the future.


Recipient: Eb Zeidler


"Architecture is building and it embraces our whole life, not only through its beauty but also through function, economy, humanity - everything that affects us," he said. "I am honoured to be part of this task."-Eb Zeidler


Eberhard Zeidler is well known for such outstanding modernist and iconic works as Ontario Place, the provinces signature centennial playground, and Canada Place, the exhibition space for Expo '86 in Vancouver. McMaster University Health Sciences Centre, completed in 1972, was but the first of many medical centres and hospitals throughout Canada and the United States, most featuring the kind of spacious, welcoming, but exciting atria that is also the signature of Toronto's Eaton Centre (with Bregman + Hamann Architects). As well, there have been performing arts centres and mixed-use developments throughout the world. Less well known, perhaps, are the dozens of smaller-scale homes, houses of worship, and commercial buildings that seeded modernism first in Peterborough and its environs and, after 1963, in Toronto, that were undertaken before the success of the larger, worldwide projects. 


Eb was born in Germany in 1926 where he studied at the Bauhaus in Weimar, which was relaunched after the Second World War, and graduated from the Technische Hochschule in Karlsruhe. He immigrated to Canada in 1951 and joined the firm of Blackwell and Craig in Peterborough, becoming a full partner in 1954. The firm, renamed Craig, Zeidler and Strong, moved to Toronto in 1963. 


Zeidler Partnership Architects, as the firm subsequently became, opened offices in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, Victoria (BC), London, Berlin, Beijing, Abu Dhabi, UAE, and West Palm Beach (FL). Eb has served on design juries and lectured at universities around the world, and from 1984 to 1999, was an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Architecture. He is the recipient of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada's Gold Medal, of numerous Massey and other design awards, and has been honoured by the Ontario Association of Architects and the American Institute of Architects. In 1984, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. He has also received the Order of Ontario.


For all his work, large and small, the ACO is delighted to present Eb Zeidler with its first Post-1945 Design Award.

  Margaret and Nicholas Hill Cultural Heritage Landscape Award


Named for Margaret and Nicholas Hill, this award recognizes an individual, group, or project that has heightened awareness and appreciation of Ontario's significant landscapes, or endeavoured to preserve a noteworthy example of the product of human interaction with nature.

red cloud       

Recipient: Red Cloud Cemetery Board, Cramahe Township


During a centennial project in 1969, the abandoned Red Cloud Cemetery site was planted with red pine. The pines shaded the native prairie plants (30 species of rare plants, 12 provincially rare), and the fall of needles covered the overturned markers. This might have spelled the end for the public burial ground set aside by the Quaker pioneers who settled this part of Northumberland County over 150 years ago, and for the habitat of prairie grasses that had thrived there for some four millennia.


The Red Cloud Cemetery Board, however, determined that at least on this site, the natural and historical aspects of the area should be restored.


Public officials, leery of spending money; academics, suspicious of intensive ecological management by a nonprofessional, voluntary organization; and the general public alike took a dim view of the board's desire to recreate the unique ecology and historical aspects of the site as it existed between the 1850s and the 1940s.


Lack of support notwithstanding, the Red Cloud Cemetery Board proceeded. Using such strategies as tree cutting, prescribed burns, weeding of non-native species, herbicide application to specific inappropriate plants, fence repair, construction of a new entrance and pathway, interpretive signage, a tombstone survey, and replacement of an eroding marker with a new one of granite, the group successfully recreated a landscape that existed a century ago. In the process, it also won over local groups such as the historical society and the Cramahe Fire Department, as well as support from the Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation.


Today, a tallgrass prairie thrives where years of agricultural cultivation virtually eliminated native species, and vandalism, field parties, and neglect had obliterated much of the cemetery. Because of the persistence of the Red Cloud Cemetery Board, the agrarian community of Red Cloud now has a lasting memorial to its pioneers together with the prairie ecosystem of its time. 


For it imagination and perseverance, the ACO is pleased to bestow the Margaret and Nicholas Hill Cultural Heritage Landscape Award on the Red Cloud Cemetery Board.

ACO NextGen Award


Heritage-related awards have traditionally been given primarily to those with long track records in conservation. But just as ACO is breaking with tradition by recognizing contemporary work, so too, is it breaking with tradition by recognizing the contributions of students and young, emerging professionals to the ever-expanding and increasingly complex field of heritage conservation.


ACO's NextGen Award is the brainchild of its NextGen group, which began in 2009 when Clark Morawetz and Kayla Jonas Galvin launched online and in-person consultations around the province to determine the needs of students and emerging professionals in heritage-related fields. The group held its first face-to-face meeting in November, 2010. Its goal is to provide students and young professionals with opportunities to learn about and contribute to the preservation of Ontario's heritage.


The award's recipient will be an emerging professional who has made a significant contribution to heritage conservation in Ontario and/or to the engagement of students or professional peers in heritage work.



Recipient: Jamie Bradburn


Jamie Bradburn is an accomplished writer, who covers heritage issues using a contemporary framework of online channels, popularizing and legitimizing heritage issues for young (and not-so-young), active, tech-savvy, and politically minded citizens of Toronto and beyond. His coverage of local events and advocacy for heritage can be found on his personal blog as well as on Spacing Toronto, Heritage Toronto, OpenFile Toronto, The Grid, and Torontoist. Jamie uses his expert knowledge of local history and heritage to create engaging and accessible articles for new audiences, capitalizing on the reach of online and social media. 


His is a familiar face at ACO NextGen events, such as its "Heritage Is Green" event held at ACO headquarters, and the group's Camp 30 tour in Bowmanville, which Jamie also covered in Torontoist. He also scours the City of Toronto archives looking for entertaining relics of bygone daily life as found advertisements and other public records. His expertise and writing style provide a model for others who wish to promote a pertinent heritage issue, or raise awareness of available heritage and historic resources.


As an excellent example of how a young professional can raise the profile of heritage for a wider audience by using contemporary platforms to build on nostalgia and local pride, ACO is pleased to bestow ACO's first NextGen Award on Jamie Bradburn.

 ACO Media Award


For almost 80 years, the ACO has endeavoured to spread a strong message about the value of our built heritage. It has done so through print and in person. It has encouraged the formation of local branches, and it has worked with property owners to restore valuable heritage resources, with municipal governments to create heritage registers and designate buildings and districts, and with the Province of Ontario to develop the tools needed to conserve our patrimony.


Throughout this time, the organization has relied heavily on the media to make these efforts known to the public. Now, with the launch of ACO's Media Award, we have a way of paying tribute to the eloquence of the journalists, editors, bloggers, and other writers or creators of new media who have researched the facts, collected opinions, and diligently told the stories that have promoted a greater understanding of heritage significance and controversies.

chris clark         

Recipient: Chris Clark, Editor, Guelph Tribune


Chris is well known for his passion for Guelph's heritage and for local architectural conservancy efforts, as evidenced the Tribune's promotion of historical walking tours and Jane's Walks, and its coverage each year for Heritage Week when, working with local experts, Chris photographs and features local historical sites giving them full-page spreads. Chris also instituted a regular "Then and Now" feature for which he puts archival images of historic Guelph buildings beside meticulously photographed shots taken from the same angle and presented at the same scale so that readers can fully appreciate the changes over time. As well, the Tribune provided in-depth coverage of Loretto Abbey's 2011 rehabilitation, which saw the previously threatened ecclesiastical site transformed into the new Guelph Civic Museum. This was a major boost for the museum's fund-raising campaign, and ensured that Guelph's citizens were aware of this signature adaptive reuse project. 


Under Chris's direction, the Tribune editorial team has covered everything from the debates over demolition of the Mitchell Farmhouse, consideration of the heritage elements of Guelph's parks and rivers, the proposed designation of historical neighbourhoods, the refurbishment and repurposing of part of the old Memorial arena and Old City Hall as elements of the new City Hall complex, to the renovation of historic buildings on the University of Guelph campus. In his own editorials, Chris has gone further afield, commenting on key heritage battles elsewhere in Ontario, and on the importance of the ACO in preserving built heritage. 


In sum, Chris has carried the torch for heritage. The Tribune's coverage has sparked a high level of civic engagement among readers, spurring them to strongly support conservation of Guelph's heritage; as well, it has served as a model for other community papers. For both his occasional and ongoing, regular coverage of heritage issues, Chris Clark has been named the ACO's first Media Award recipient.



 A.K. Sculthorpe Award for Advocacy


The award recognizes an individual, informal group, or established nonprofit organization which at a critical point has achieved exemplary success in a significant heritage crisis. The people involved have demonstrated leadership in the field, integrity, and the ability to be inclusive and communicate the value of heritage conservation to others. 




Recipient: Friends of Wesleyville Village


Once a bustling hamlet, Wesleyville, which lies within Port Hope, is today often regarded as a ghost town. In the 1970s, an oil-fired generating station was planned, but the rising price of oil killed the scheme. The site, which had been acquired for the station, was left to deteriorate. With some of the remaining structures demolished, and amidst rumours of an impending nuclear power plant, Ontario Power Generation (OPG), supported by ACO's Port Hope Branch, undertook a study to determine the heritage value of what remained of the village: its church, a schoolhouse, two architecturally significant houses, and two barns. It concluded that Wesleyville 


. . . is not a disjointed collection of abandoned buildings and overgrown vegetation but layered with archeological, built and natural significance. . . . As a cultural landscape, its core heritage character is as a sanctuary of historic structures and cultural aspirations, amidst a regenerating natural landscape.


To support revitalization of this abandoned community, six heritage advocates formed the Friends of Wesleyville Village in 2008. The Friends, now a charitable organization with 150 members, began its work with the rapidly decaying church, which was owned by nearby Welcome United Church. Although Wesleyville Church had been designated in the 1990s, its condition rendered demolition its most likely fate. 


Welcome United was willing to sell the building, but was prepared to consider other alternatives. Lengthy discussions resulted in a 20-year lease including explicit goals for the first five years. This precedent-setting arrangement, written up in The United Church Observer, has led other communities to approach the Friends for advice.


As volunteers worked to restore the church, they spoke of feeling AK's presence. Wesleyville's church is now largely restored, thanks to the Friends, and the community, which has been highly supportive. Efforts continue to work with OPG-owner of the rest of the village-so that the rest of Wesleyville can be preserved and revitalized. 


For their innovative approach to working with Wesleyville's owners, and their success in rallying the community, ACO is pleased to present the Friends of Wesleyville Village with the A. K. Sculthorpe Award for Advocacy.

  Eric Arthur Lifetime Achievement Award


The award recognizes individuals or groups that have made an outstanding contribution to the heritage conservation movement in Ontario over a sustained period of time. The state of the province's architectural heritage today would not be the same without the significant activities of this recipient.



Recipient: Don and Joan Rumgay


The Rumgays have long been essential to heritage in Port Hope, and the town today bears many unmistakable and indispensable marks of their deep commitment to the community, their leadership, and their loving attention to heritage and conservation. 


For many years, Joan was the publisher of Century Home Magazine, a national periodical that inspired its readers to become interested in renovating old houses. Both the Rumgays were long-time members of the ACO, with Don serving as president of the Port Hope chapter. Their numerous successful projects include restoring the provincially recognized-and very elegant-1834 residence "Bluestone"; Port Hope's Custom's House at 12 Mill Street; and the restoration and running of the Lantern Inn (now the Waddell). The latter was designed by William Thomas, architect of such notable structures throughout Canada as St. Lawrence Hall, St Michael's Cathedral, and the Don Jail in Toronto; the Niagara District Court House and Town Hall; Guelph's Old City Hall; the Halifax Old County Court House; and Brock's Monument. 


Equally important was their creative partnership and leadership in the battle to preserve Port Hope's Capitol Theatre, which now has been restored with great care for period detail. Today the theatre is a vital feature of the town and central to its cultural life-an important symbol and example of a community's ability to work together to preserve the best elements of the past while dynamically meeting the continuously changing needs of the future. 


Sadly, Joan Rumgay passed away recently. ACO feels the Eric Arthur Lifetime Achievement Award is a fitting acknowledgement of her life and work with her loving husband, Don.