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Issue No. 193 | February 27, 2012

1. Unbuilt Victoria
Dorothy Mindenhall

Proposed Reid Centre to be built on Wharf Street at the foot of Bastion Square, late 1960s. Gerald Hamilton & Associates, Architects.

For most people, resident and visitor alike, Victoria, British Columbia, is a time capsule of Victorian and Edwardian buildings. From a modest fur-trading post of the Hudsons Bay Company it grew to the provinces major trading centre. Then the selection of Vancouver as the terminus of the transcontinental railway, in the 1880s, followed by a smallpox epidemic that closed the port in the 1890s resulted in decline.

Victoria succeeded in reinventing itself as a tourist destination, based on the concept of nostalgia for all things English, stunning scenery, and investment opportunities. In the modernizing boom after the Second World War attempts were made to move the citys built environment in to the mainstream, but the prospect of Victorias becoming like any other North American city did not win public approval.

Unbuilt Victoria examines some of the architectural plans that were proposed but rejected. That some of them were ever dreamed of will probably amaze; that others never made it might well be a matter of regret.

Dorothy Mindenhall is an architectural historian with a particular interest in the Victorian era. She was a contributor to Building the West, a publication about the architects and architectural environment of early British Columbia, and is involved in various projects for heritage conservation. Dorothy lives in Victoria.

2. Winnipeg's Arlington Street Bridge turns 100
Christian Cassidy - West End Dumplings

Winnipeg's Arlington Bridge turns 100 !

This is a four part series on the history of Winnipeg's often controversial Arlington Street Bridge commemorating the centenary of her opening on February 5, 1912.

3. Wesly United Church, Mimico under threat
Michael Harrison

Wesley United Church

In 2012 Wesley United Church will be celebrating it's 150th anniversary. Unfortunately, the church appears to be celebrating its anniversary by proposing the demolition of the historic building except for the tower, and building a seniors residence on the property. While seniors housing is a laudable goal it should not be at the expense of this historic building. They have not yet made a formal planning application to the city but this is currently what they are contemplating, as far as I understand.

Wesley Methodist Church (as it was originally known) has a long history in Mimico. The first church was built shortly after the property on Church Street (Royal York Road today) was acquired in 1862. This building accommodated the congregation until 1922 when it became too small. The congregation then began construction of a new church on Station Road at Mimico Avenue. The old church building was then sold to the Town of Mimico and became the municipal offices and council chamber.

Wesley United Church is a significant architectural and historical building in the former Town of Mimico. Contextually, as a church placed on a corner lot at a major intersection in the neighbourhood, Wesley United Church is a landmark in the Mimico community. It is an integral part of the institutional corridor of Mimico Avenue with its public schools and churches. Wesley United Church is historically, visually and physically linked to its surroundings.

The original church on this property was built in 1922. The architect was the renowned John Charles Batstone Horwood, assisted by his son Eric Horwood. As members of the congregation when the family was in residence at their summer estate on Mimico Beach, the Horwoods (father and son) would have ensured that the church was of excellent design and materials. The 1953 addition to the church which extended it closer to Mimico Avenue was designed by Eric Horwood, JCB's son alone.

When I discovered what the church was contemplating I contacted them and informed them that the building is listed under the Ontario Heritage Act and suggested that they should be looking at all possible arrangements within the existing structure, including seeking tenants or co-owners for various parts of the building. I suggested that they should be publicizing the fact that they have a church building for which they are looking for partners in order to reach any potential collaborators in the protection and preservation of this important structure.

The building is currently listed under the Ontario Heritage Act but really needs to be designated under the act in order to preserve this important building for the future.

Hopefully, the church will be open to any potential ideas that allow the current historic building to be retained while at the same time allowing for new uses. This would allow the church to seek the new uses that they are looking for, while still retaining this historical and architecturally significant landmark building in Mimico.

As a "listed" building the heritage planning professionals at the city are undoubtedly researching the building to determine if it should be designated under the Ontario Heritage Act. However I have ensured this review by submitting a formal application for the building to be designated under the Ontario Heritage Act. The heritage planning professionals will now review the attributes of the building against the criteria in the act to determine if designation under the Ontario Heritage Act is merited or not.

What you can do

Letters/emails of support to the local Councillor Mark Grimes would be most helpful. He can be reached at If you could also copy me at mimicohistory at that would be greatly appreciated.

4. Toronto Star: Wesley Mimico Church
Noor Javed

Neighbours fear demolition of historic Wesley Mimico United Church

They came out to fight the conversion of a historic church into a condominium building.

But concerned community members who spoke against demolition of the Wesley Mimico United Church at the annual general meeting Sunday morning were met with a conciliatory stance from the congregation.

“I hope we can go forward not arm in arm necessarily, but certainly eye to eye … in the process of figuring out what it is it that we will become as Wesley Mimico United Church,” said interim minister Harry Oussoren.

The future is unclear for the small congregation of around 50 people. The foundation of the church is leaking, the pipes are old and the bills are just too high. It costs nearly $40,000 a year just to maintain the building, said Oussoren.

“The building is close to 100 years old and it’s tired. It’s a joy to take care of it, but it’s unlikely we can maintain it,” said Larry McPhail, a church member who helps with the upkeep of the church.

Which is why nearly four years ago, the church formed the Faith and Hope Team to explore the redevelopment of the church site into a space that could be multi-purpose and could possibly help the church pay the bills. The group decided to look into a plan that would include a church, community space and affordable housing. They reached out to local community members to discuss the plans.

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5. Toronto Star: Architecture App from Ryerson

Ryerson prof helps architecture come alive with new app

On a sunny day, light streams into the Allen Lambert Galleria at Toronto’s Brookfield Place, drenching the hustle-and-bustle of the financial district below.

Take a moment inside the atrium to glance upward and you’ll see an arched, treelike canopy of criss-crossing steel and glass. Some may know the atrium, one of Toronto’s seminal architectural masterpieces, was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

For everyone else, a pocket-size interactive guide awaits.

The Ryerson Architecture Mobile app, free for most smartphones, was recently released by Ryerson University to help students and the general public better understand and engage with Toronto’s architecture, past and present.

It’s the brainchild of Vincent Hui, a Ryerson architectural science professor who said he was inspired to create the app in late 2010 after he moved to the city from the University of Waterloo. He wanted to find a way to take advantage of Toronto’s architecture to improve his lesson plans, he said.

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Editor's Note:This is one great, but still under-resourced project.

6. Globe & Mail: In Paris, Ont., Drew Skuce finds good karma in old stuff
Dave LeBlanc, Andrew Skuce

Quietly fighting the 'vinyl pirates' one house at a time, restorer brings peices of architectural heritage back to life

I like owning this business, says Drew Skuce after showing off his tidy workshop, Paradigm Shift Customs, where pieces of architectural heritage  windows, mostly  are brought back to life. I want to have a business thats karmically sound; it should be a labour-based business versus selling products.

Located where Paris, Ont., ends and the endless checkerboard of Southwestern Ontario farmers fields begin, a great deal of good karma is generated in this 2,000-square-foot space. And the main product: expertise.

Despite his laid-back surfers demeanour (the expression cool beans comes up a lot), ever-present baseball cap, and a birth certificate issued only 30 years ago, Mr. Skuce is quietly making a name for himself in heritage circles. After taking the leap into full-time restoration a little over two years ago, hes already won an award from the City of Hamilton for the Art Moderne Hambly residence (featured here in April, 2011), and hes added a few National Historic Sites to his growing portfolio.

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7. Brampton Guardian: Brampton Wins Prestigious Award
Pam Douglas

Brampton Wins Prestigious Ontario Heritage Award

The City of Bramptons work to preserve local heritage has been recognized as outstanding by the Ontario Heritage Trust, it was announced today.
Brampton has been named the winner of the Lieutenant Governors Ontario Heritage Award for Community Leadership.
The city will be honoured along with other heritage award recipients at a ceremony next Friday (Feb. 24) at Queens Park.
We are honoured that the City of Brampton has been selected to receive the Lieutenant Governors Ontario Heritage Award for Community Leadership, said Brampton Mayor Susan Fennell in release. We remain strongly committed to preserving our heritage, and this award recognizes the City of Bramptons efforts to keep this rich history alive.
The annual Lieutenant Governors Ontario Heritage Awards recognize volunteers and communities for outstanding contributions to the identification, preservation, protection and promotion of Ontarios heritage.
The Ontario Heritage Trust outlines why Brampton was chosen:
The City of Brampton has shown dedication and perseverance in its efforts to preserve, protect and promote its heritage. In 2011, the City made the Designated Heritage Property Incentive Grant Program permanent and extended the eligibility for this grant to commercial buildings. That same year, the City of Brampton completed the restoration of Ebenezer Community Hall, reconstructed the historic Canadian Pacific Railway station at Mount Pleasant Village, and is continuing the restoration of the Alderlea estate. Brampton actively maintains a web portal that provides current heritage information, including all heritage registers, key documents, active projects, outreach and marketing materials, and heritage-related forms. The City also has a program for protecting pioneer cemeteries and a tree preservation bylaw. The City supports the Brampton Heritage Board, collaborates with the Brampton Historical Society, and works with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and Credit Valley Conservation. The City of Brampton has a heritage plaque program, interpretative signage program, an impressive downtown heritage walking tour booklet, and hosts a Heritage Week tradeshow.

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8. City of Hamilton: Heritage Property Awards 2011
Hamilton Municipal Heritage Committee

HMHC Heritage Property Recognition Awards 2011


Spallacci Group
For the West Avenue Residences (Former West Avenue Public School)
255 West Avenue N., Hamilton, On


EcoHouse operated by Green Ventures (Also known as Glen Manor or Veevers Estate)
22 Veevers Drive, Stoney Creek, On


Vicars Vice Restaurant (Former Elfrida United Church) - 2251 Rymal Road, Stoney Creek, On

Hambly House - 170 Longwood Road North, Hamilton, On

Dundas Business Centre (Former Dundas Post Office) - 104 King St. W., Dundas, On

91 John Street South, Hamilton, On (Former Shop of Edwin Pass Watchmaker)

St. Thomas Lofts (Former St. Thomas Catholic Church) - 40 Flamboro Street, Flamborough, On

151 St. Clair Avenue, Hamilton, On

118 James Street N., Hamilton, On (Former Dominion Furniture Store)

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9. Kingston Whig-Standard: Potential heritage property now just a pile of brick - House built in 1844 one of seven along east shore of Cataraqui River considered for protection

If we would have known they would have been destroying it, we would have objected.

Being identified as a potential heritage property didn't save a 19th century farmhouse from being destroyed last week, prompting a local couple to question the city's protection of remaining properties. Compton House - a 19th century brick house located on Hwy. 15 - was one of the remaining homes in that area which depicted the area's long agricultural history. "It's just a pile of brick," said Zoe Timperon, who lives in a nearby property. Timperon, and her husband, Don, also own a 19th century farmhouse ( formerly Baxter House) where they run a bed and breakfast, called the Tymparon Inn. Timperon said she and her husband were running errands when they noticed the home was being torn down. "It was already gone," she said. "If we would have known they would have been destroying it we would have objected." The house was built around 1844 by the Strachan family, who built several homes in the area. John Strachan, a Scottish immigrant, owned the home until 1858 when it was sold. Through the years, owners of the home, including Queen's University, made significant upgrades to many aspects of the home, except to the stone facade.

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10. Architzer: Mies in Montreal
Catherine Nasmith

Montreal Architects Rescue Mies Van Der Rohe Gas Station from Obscurity

Canadian architecture firm FABG have completed their renovation of Mies van der Rohe’s Esso Service gas station on Nun’s Island, Montreal. The structure was conceived as a prototypical station for Standard Oil and was meant to service a three-tower residential complex designed by Mies as part of the urbanization of the island in 1962. The station was closed in 2008, before being granted heritage status by the city only a year later as part of plans to restore the building for use as a youth and senior activity center. FABG responded with a subtle design that both acknowledges the building’s place in architectural history and its need to change with the present. Continue.



As we wrote last October, FABG were meticulous in their restoration of Mies’s design, the authenticity of which has been repeatedly questioned since the station’s completion in 1969, the same year that Mies died. Given the architect’s age and his declining health at the time, not too mention his commitments to several other projects, it has been speculated that his involvement was significantly diminished, a charge reinforced by apparent structural anomalies and “pedestrian details” which would have found no place in a true home of Mies. Montreal-based architect Paul Lapointe assumed the responsibility of the project’s lead architect, with Mies acting as his design consultant, effectively precluding the chance of any close engagement with the master and the station design. FABG were, of course, aware of this fact, and they were careful to preserve the values and influence of the Miesian architecture while actively exploring new ways to rehabilitate the station to its contemporary context.

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11. Winnipeg Free Press: Government has new life for old Brick's
Brent Bellamy

A prominent downtown Winnipeg heritage building is finally getting a new lease on life as an energy-efficient office complex after the owners landed a provincial government department as an anchor tenant.

The former Brick's Fine Furniture retail/warehouse at 111 Lombard Ave. is undergoing a $25-million, top-to-bottom makeover preparing for the Entrepreneurship, Training and Trade Department moving in next year....

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12. Winnipeg Free Press: Shopping for Bay Downtown redevelopment

Shopping for Bay Downtown redevelopment

After reducing its presence in the iconic store to three floors from six, it has been reported recently the HBC is now considering the option of selling its landmark building, casting doubt on the company's future in the downtown.

This news has brought us to a historic crossroads along the 175-year journey that Winnipeg and the Hudson's Bay Co. have travelled together. It is clear the opportunity to implement a development strategy that preserves the Bay's downtown retail presence might soon be lost forever....

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