|The President's Pen, now wielded by Richard Longley!|
When I was invited to become President of ACO on 9th June, 2013 (my 70th birthday) my response to this unexpected honour was a mixture of trepidation, a tremendous sense of inadequacy and some excitement - for this is an exciting as well as a daunting prospect.
Like many members of the ACO, my first real attempt to preserve Canada's built heritage was inspired by an atrocity. In this case, the demolition, in 2003, of a house on a section of Brunswick Avenue in Toronto, where, apart from on the site of the Doctors' Hospital, all its original homes that had been built in the 1880s and 1890s were intact. The response to our appeal for help from Toronto Heritage Preservation Services? Unless a building is designated heritage or it is located in a Heritage Conservation District, there is nothing anyone or the City can do to prevent its destruction and replacement, so long as that replacement complies with the building by-law. So we began the formation of the Harbord Village Heritage Conservation District.
While former ACO President Cathy Nasmith was serving as our Heritage Architect, she suggested I join the ACO executive in 2005.
With thanks to my predecessors, especially those I know best: Cathy Nasmith, Lloyd Alter, Susan Ratcliffe. To the indispensible Rollo Myers and Elizabeth Quance and all my friends and colleagues on the executive and council of ACO. I look forward to working with all the help you can give me!
|And, re-introducing this year's executive!|
Jenny Rieger thanking (now) Past President Susan Ratcliffe
Past President: Susan Ratcliffe
Vice President: Kieran Dickson
Vice President: Jenny Rieger
Secretary: Tatum Taylor
Treasurer: Caroline Luce
Members at Large:
Kayla Jonas Galvin
We welcome Past President Chris Borghal, who is rejoining the executive as a member at large.
Manager: Rollo Myers
Branch Coordinator: Elizabeth Quance
Book-keeper: Marie May
|The Past President's Pen|
Susan Ratcliffe writes:
May you have the hindsight to know where you've been, The foresight to know where you are going, And the insight to know when you have gone too far. (an old Irish blessing)
Early in 2011, Catherine Nasmith took me for a ride through Bowmanville in her Miata and asked me to consider becoming president of ACO. With the top down, and the wind blowing through our hair, I guess she misheard my NO for YES and there I was - President. And now, it's two years later and I am gobsmacked to be finished as President. Where does the time go? How could two years just disappear??
It's been an amazing experience to meet so many people in all the branches and to hear stories about their beloved communities, special buildings and landscapes and how hard they work to preserve them. In Cobourg and St. Thomas, in Port Hope and Hamilton, in Brighton and Muskoka, and so many other places I travelled to speak and meet, the passion of the volunteers was moving and inspiring.
I gave a sermon in the tiny, beautiful Leith United Church, I drank wine in Jane Urquhart's lovely house in Colborne to save the Trinity United Church, I wept to hear the story of the tragic demolition of the Brighton Public School, and I rejoiced to have the opportunity to speak in the elegantly-restored St. Thomas Canada Southern Railway Station. Such a wealth of experiences packed into two years!
Successes, triumphs and celebrations, and sometimes overwhelming anger and frustration at the ignorance and blindness of certain municipal councils, land owners and developers and most of all, of the Minister of Culture, Tourism and Sport. The Ontario Heritage Act clearly states:
The Minister is responsible for the administration of this Act and may determine policies, priorities and programs for the conservation, protection and preservation of the heritage of Ontario. R.S.O. 1990, c. O.18, s. 2.
Michael Chan does not seem to believe that this statement applies to him, and refuses to intervene in an municipal decisions (or lack of decisions, or questionable practices) to save heritage properties in danger of demolition. This has been especially apparent in Hamilton in the past six months where he has refused to even meet with ACO to discuss the loss of the four buildings in the Gore. PanAm Games are lovely and exciting and colourful, but they are transitory. The loss of our heritage is forever.
Thanks to everyone for their passion, hard work and dedication. As we go forward into our next 80 years, I hope you will join us in this important work.
At the Ontario Heritage Conference: Failures, big and small
Lloyd Alter writes:
In my last act as Past President of the ACO, I presented two failures of heritage; at one end of the scale, the loss of windows in a designated building in Paisley, Ontario, where their replacement with vinyl was actually paid for by an agency of the same Ministry that is supposed to be defending heritage.
At the other end of the scale, we are about to lose an entire block of heritage buildings in Toronto as everyone rolls over for Frank Gehry's 85 storey wow project. Heritage designation is only a minor inconvenience in the face of this. Chris Hume of the Toronto Star, usually a huge supporter of heritage, coins a line that will be used by every developer mowing down history henceforth: "There are two types of heritage, let's not forget: one we inherit; the other we bequeath."
Since I started as President four years ago, this has been the litany, whether at the macro or the micro scale. We have a Heritage Act, we have wonderful, supportive people at the Ministry, we have committed volunteers and activists. But from Brantford to Brighton to Paisley to The Gore in Hamilton to the back campus at U of T and King Street in Toronto, we fail, because nobody can or will stand up to local municipal governments that see nothing but dollar signs and development.
You could build a city out of the heritage buildings going or gone during my four years as President and Past President. Clearly the heritage preservation system isn't working.
|At the OHC: The 80th anniversary of the ACO|
Susan Ratcliffe writes:
At this year's heritage conference in Midland, I was privileged to be able to talk to the Saturday dinner audience about ACO's history and I thought I'd share with you some of my words if you could not be there.
In 1933, one man cared about one house in one small village in Ontario. That man was Eric Arthur, that house was was the Barnum House built in 1817, and that village was Grafton between Port Hope and Colborne. His work shows us that one man can change the course of history and of heritage.
On Feb 2, 1933, 76 honourable citizens from all over Ontario signed the Letters Patent incorporating the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario that led to 80 years of heritage advocacy in Ontario. Among them were Mr. Herridge, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the United States of America, Sir William Mulock, Chief Justice Ontario and The Honorable Vincent Massey, Gentleman. The list of signatories is impressive, but it took only one man who cared about one house in one small town to get it started.
Eric Arthur cared enough to gather 200 students to create an inventory of more than 200 heritage buildings, to write a book about the value of barns and other vernacular architecture. His work inspired others who cared: in 1960 Ruth Home started the first ACO branch in Hamilton, in 1968 Gordon Couling founded the Guelph branch and lectured about the wonders of heritage, in Port Hope Alice Sculthorpe was a passionate advocate, and in London, Julia Beck dedicated herself to saving the city's most beautiful buildings. And so many more - one person, one building, one town.
At this year's heritage conference, I saw the evidence of the passion of volunteers in speaking up: I heard news of the success of the ON Track group in St. Thomas in saving the MCR bridge to become Canada's first elevated park. I heard the story of the work of Barb Love and Marj Mossman of the Simcoe branch to have Lake Simcoe declared as Canada's first Heritage Lake. I heard MPP Garfield Dunlop talking about saving the beloved mill in Coldwater. He said, "It needed just one leader to give voice to the community."
In recent years, ACO has benefited from the work of our NextGen group led by Kayla Jonas Galvin, new voices for heritage in Ontario. We will celebrate our successes in our forthcoming book of celebration: The Golden Oaks of Heritage: 80 buildings saved in 80 years of ACO work.
It takes many voices in many towns speaking up for many treasured buildings and landscapes. I am proud of ACO's survival and contribution to the heritage of Ontario.
I thank all those voices over all those years.
| At the Ontario Heritage Conference: NextGen|
Kayla Jonas Galvin writes:
The annual Friday Pub Night hosted by ACO NextGen was followed on Saturday morning by a panel of young professionals, students and volunteers. These eight people presented for five minutes each on something in heritage that they were working on and were passionate about. The panel was introduced by Dr. Robert Shipley who expressed excitement that so many of the next generation were attending and participating in the conference.
The presentation topic covered a watershed bridge inventory, a thesis on heritage & BIAs, the updating of an HCD plan, hosting a student run symposium, volunteering with a historical society, an arts organization acquiring a heritage buildings, and one on ACO NextGen.
This diversity highlighted the different roles and perspectives young professionals play in the heritage field. Despite the differences, when asked to express the actions that should be taken in heritage and who should be doing them, almost all speaker highlighted the need for collaboration and outreach to other fields. Technology and its role in communicating heritage to the general public, including the desire for this information to be free was also strongly noted as a future issue.
|Introducing your new Acorn editor: Tatum Taylor|
| Lloyd Alter writes:
This is my last issue as editor of the Acorn in a Nutshell. It's been a passion of mine for the last four years, to the point where I couldn't leave without trying a bit of a redesign to make it even better.
But it is a job that should be done by a member of the executive who is in touch with the daily activities of the ACO.
Tatum describes herself as "a writer and a preservationist" and is currently working at ERA and is secretary of the ACO. The Acorn is in very capable hands. I am hoping that she will let me contribute the occasional rant.
|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.