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Issue No. 243 | August 7, 2015

1. Picnic at Bala Falls Tomorrow
Catherine Nasmith

You will find this in our events listing, but want to highlight here. ACO Muskoka is holding a picnic tomorrow at 11:30 to 1:00, in Margaret Burgess Park in Bala Falls to highlight the heritage of the area.

There will be displays of canoes, the themes of the heritage conservation district, walking tours (I'm leading the one at 1:00 personally), and Chief Phillip Franks of The Wahta Mohawks will make remarks explaining why this place is important to their neighbouring community. 

The Wahta Mohawks migrated to Muskoka from Oka Quebec in the 1880's in search of religious freedom. 

If you're free come and bring the kids and a picnic lunch and the kids to enjoy at one of Ontario's most scenic spots. It will be an enjoyable and informative event.

2. Myseum of Toronto: Share your stories and objects about the city with us
Press Release

We will be popping up at locations around the city to ask you to share your stories and objects about what Toronto means to you.

TORONTO, ON – July 21, 2015 – Join Myseum of Toronto for Myseum on the Move, a free popup programme on Saturday, August 1 from 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival Grand Parade (Exhibition Place, near the VIP Section),

Thursday, August 27, 2015 from 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. at Elmbank Community Centre, Friday,

August 28 from 5:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, and

Saturday, September 26, 2015 from 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. at Toronto Botanical Gardens.

Focusing on the natural, built and cultural layers that make Toronto a rich urban environment, we are asking people of all ages to share their objects and stories to document the experi-ences that help us create meaning in our city. Your sharing will help us to build the Myseum’s first digital collection that represents the diversity of experience in Toronto.

Participants will be asked questions about their object or story such as: Why are they impor-tant to you? What does it add to the story of Toronto? How did you acquire it? How old you think it is? Is there anything you would like to learn about the object or story?

We will have multidisciplinary ‘Myseum Experts’ on site to document and discuss the importance of objects and stories with participants.

Registration is free and encouraged. To register please follow the links below.

Myseum on the Move at Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival Grand Parade

Myseum on the Move at Elmbank Community Centre

Myseum on the Move at Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives

Myseum on the Move at Toronto Botanical Gardens

3. Globe and Mail: Muskoka Watershed -- Threat to Bala Falls
Roy MacGregor

The story of the Muskoka River: A struggle between preservation and development

People enjoy the natural water falls at High Falls, also the site of the High Falls Generating station on the North Branch of the Muskoka river in Bracebridge Ont. (J.P. Moczulski for The Globe and Mail)

There is a lovely, lightly splashing waterfall at the end of this small pipe-shaped lake that pokes its stem into the western boundary of Algonquin Park.

The water tumbles from an unnamed creek down a long ladder of glacier-planed granite into this tiny lake where the only summer residents are two loons and their baby. Here the water is so clean that humans on the next body of water over drank it straight from the lake for decades and still could if they so wished.

The water flows by a campsite where someone with time and a chainsaw on his hands has carved a giant penis from a dead, but still erect, pine. It passes over two dams into the East River and soon past a strange stone monument in the middle of the bush where, three storeys up, lie the ashes of Clifton and Betsy Dyer, a wealthy, childless couple from Detroit who camped here during their honeymoon.

At Lake Vernon the water flows into the town of Huntsville where, for the first time, it is known as the Muskoka River.

It is a river that flows in one direction but is pulled in many – the competing forces of locals versus cottagers, development versus preservation, the past, present and future endlessly debated and often at odds with each other. Perhaps this is inevitable in a place that is north but not north, wilderness but not wilderness, an exquisitely beautiful area of Central Ontario – known as Cottage Country – that is just far enough from the urban south to feel like escape, still close enough to be easily within reach.

The signs of development are hard to miss. The Muskoka works its way past Port Sydney, where it becomes known as the North Branch, and on to Bracebridge, where it roars over three impressive falls and past the town’s hydroelectric generating stations. Here the river doubles with water from the South Branch, which has come down from the Algonquin Highlands via the Oxtongue River and Lake of Bays, then takes a twisted route to Muskoka Falls and four more generating stations. A plaque in downtown Bracebridge notes that in 1894 the town became the first municipality in the province to own and operate its own hydroelectric generating station. Power – electrical, political and grassroots – was the story then, just as it is today.


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Editor's Note:The author points to places where the use of the river and hydro generation have been compatible, so far there has not been a solution to hydro in Bala that satisfies concerns about loss of access, in fact access to the portage has already been banned by the province before the project starts.

4. National Geographic: Help for Bala Falls
Jonah Bryson

15-year-old Jonah Bryson Asks For Your Help

Film Directors Jonah Bryson and Rob Stewart

Imagine a place, deep in the Canadian forests of Ontario, where the environment remains relatively untouched by humans, where the multi-coloured autumn trees sway in the wind and where children play in the water from dusk to dawn. Imagine a place where the water flows spectacularly down a small waterfall as it makes its way to the ocean. This place is called Bala.

Now imagine Bala being threatened with destruction by a power plant developer, and the heart of this town being blown up for a small generating station that would make most of its power when it isn’t needed. When you visit this peaceful place, it is hard to imagine. I’ve been to Bala several times and am always welcomed by its glorious environment. I went there to work on a new film called The Fight for Bala, which I hope will inspire YOU to stop this unimaginable development before it becomes a grim and irreversible reality.

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5. Toronto Star: "Dippy Festival in Port Carling" Saturday
Valerie Hauch

In celebration of The Dippy

For a brief period, an amazing little motor boat -- fondly dubbed “The Dippy” -- put the little, Muskoka village of Port Carling into the record books. In its banner year, 1921, the village’s Disappearing Propeller Boat Company produced 355 of these unique 3 horsepower inboard marine motor boats -- making it the largest motor boat builder in the British Empire.

The disappearing propeller device for the wooden craft, which was marketed as “The Greatest Little Motor Boat Afloat,” had been originally patented in 1915 by an enterprising local -- W.J. “Young Billy” Johnston.

On Saturday Aug. 8, to commemorate the unique boat, about 100 Dippy owners (members of the Dispro Owners Association) will bring their boats to Port Carling and tie up, in a flotilla, near the locks. An all-day open house at the Muskoka Lakes Museum will feature an interactive Dispro device.

It is a fitting tribute to a storied boating history. The boats, which cost just $285 in 1916, were perfect for Muskoka lakes and waterways as they often had submerged logs (from the logging industry days), underwater rocks and other unchartered hazards.
“In those days, too, people liked to go on picnic -- it was a big thing. You could just pull the boat up on shore and have a picnic,” said Paul Dodington, co-author of The Greatest Little Motor Boat Afloat, The Legendary Disappearing Propeller Boat. He lives on Lake Rosseau near Port Carling and has owned and repaired Dippies for years.

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Editor's Note:Go to the ACO Picnic and then go 5 miles down the road to see the "Dippys" in Port Carling. Muskoka is a wonderful place in summer, (she says from her office in Windermere, Muskoka)

6. Toronto Star: Heritage District Debate in Lawrence Park West
Geoffrey Vendeville

Heritage-district notion splits Lawrence Park West

A proposal to make Lawrence Park West a heritage district is pitting neighbour against neighbour.

Local preservationists have asked the city to make the westernmost part of the century-old neighbourhood a heritage district, like Rosedale, Wychwood Park and other areas.

“I’ve been very upset for a number of years about what is happening to the area,” said Alex Grenzebach, a member of the Lawrence Park Heritage Committee and lifelong resident of Lawrence Park.

“There is a monster house under construction next door to me right now. The houses are much more massive than what was there before.”

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Editor's Note:A part of that area is already an HCD, Blythwood Road, has been remarkably peaceful since its implementation over ten years ago.

7. Toronto Star: Home of LGBTQ Archives on Isabella
Shawn Micallef

Archivist takes pride in preserving artifacts, art, memories from Torontos queer culture

The 1860 house on Isabella St. that's home to the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.

“The archives seduced me early on,” says Rebecka Sheffield of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives. “It was like a cabinet of curiosity of queer culture.”

Sheffield is an archivist and the new executive director of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, having volunteered there for eight years previously. Toronto is a city of archives: well known ones like the City of Toronto Archives on Spadina Rd. by Casa Loma to smaller ones like the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, though this collection is still quite deep. “It’s the largest independent LGBTQ archives in the world,” says Sheffield. “It has matchbook covers to meeting minutes, anything that is evidence of queer and trans lives."

Matchbooks, flyers, pamphlets, and even T-shirts are part of the archive’s vast collection of ephemera, objects that mark where places were and events that happened, that might otherwise be lost to history. Archive contents are the non-fiction ingredients to an untold number of stories waiting to be pieced together.

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8. Toronto Star: Yiddish Sign Survives on Baldwin Street
Ben Spurr

Yiddish sign survives threat to last vestige of Jewish enclave on Baldwin

This photo from 2009 shows the 70-year old Yiddish lettering in the window of the former Mandel

This photo from 2009 shows the 70-year old Yiddish lettering in the window of the former Mandel’s Creamery on Baldwin St. 

A rare piece of Toronto’s Jewish heritage appears to have been rescued at the last minute, after almost being destroyed by a bubble-tea franchise. The historic sign is believed to be the only one of its kind in Toronto, but was almost destroyed when a bubble tea shop moved into the storefront in June.

“Butter, Cheese, Cream, Eggs — Fresh Every Day” are the unremarkable words spelled out by the Yiddish sign on the window of 29 Baldwin St. But the hand-painted letters, an advertisement for the former Mandel’s Creamery, are possibly the last surviving remnants of Baldwin Village’s former life as a landing spot for Jewish immigrants.

The sign is believed to date back to the 1940s, and was preserved even after Mandel’s was taken over by John’s Italian Caffe decades ago. But John’s recently closed, and a new tenant moved into 29 Baldwin. Last month, large decals announcing the arrival of a bubble-tea shop were plastered across the storefront, and the Yiddish sign was nowhere to be seen. Rumours circulated that the new tenants had chiselled it off.
“So we panicked,” said Dara Solomon, director of the Ontario Jewish Archives, who had been worried about the sign since she heard John’s was closing.

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9. Urban Toronto: Union Station Clock back
Stefan Novakovic

Restored Clock Unveiled as Emblem of Union Station's New Era

Earlier today, Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell unveiled the newly restored Union Station plaza clock, heralding the historic timepiece as "not only a piece of infrastructure," but also an icon of the vibrant public life the new plaza aims to bring to the Downtown core. With an outdoor food market and free TIFF screenings headlining a series of public events this summer, the Union Station plaza is transforming from a utilitarian commuter nexus—a place to merely pass through—to a place to be.

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10. Montreal Gazette: Destruction of Vigor Square's Agora Monument
Rene Bruemmer

Viger Square's Agora monument will be destroyed, Coderre says

The City of Montreal will destroy the expansive concrete Agora sculpture in Viger Square despite a growing chorus calling for the city to preserve it, or at least hold a public consultation on the issue.

“The decision has been taken,” Mayor Denis Coderre said Monday. “There was a consultation, there were meetings. After 30 years we had to make a decision. End of story.”

Coderre said there was also an issue of security involved, given that 20,000 people will be circulating in the area once the new Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal research centre opens in the sector. The park has become a hangout and sleeping area for many of the city’s homeless population, who take refuge under the Agora’s concrete coverings.

The city announced in early June it would be tearing down the sculpture created in 1983 by the artist Charles Daudelin to make way for a $28-million redesign of the park to be completed in 2017, in conjunction with the covering of the Ville Marie Expressway in that area, and the city’s 375th birthday.

Daudelin’s family reacted with dismay and outrage, and last week a grouping of four museum directors and Phyllis Lambert, founder of the Canadian Centre for Architecture, issued a letter to Coderre called for a “true consultation” on the matter, Le Devoir reported. The directors, including the head of Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, said the Agora holds a “special place among public art in Montreal,” and depicted the sculpture as a “major work by one of the modern pioneers of the integration of art with architecture, in Quebec and in Canada.”


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Editor's Note:Lots of news about monuments, coming and going.

11. Ottawa Citizen: Ironies in Victims of Communism Memorial - Substance and Process
Shannon Gormley

Memorial to Victims of Communism resembles style of authoritarian rulers

Memorial to Victims of Communism resembles style of authoritarian rulers

With one memorial to communism’s victims, another to war victims and another to Holocaust victims, the country has gone on a small monument spree just as its ruling party must contemplate going out the door. 

The main problem is not that it’s expensive, although it is expensive. Nor that it’s needlessly ideological, although it is that too. We could pile on a few more criticisms, all of them true: it’s antagonistic; it’s politically expedient; it’s irredeemably and unforgivably ugly. These don’t quite get at the heart of it either.

The problem with the Memorial to the Victims of Communism is that, in being all these things, it undermines its stated purpose. Somehow, a monument designed to rebuke one form of authoritarianism manages to faintly echo several ways that authoritarian governments go about dumping great mounds of concrete and metal onto the earth: spending hand-over-iron-fist on propagandist landscaping, demonizing ideological opponents through said landscaping, selecting a landscaping site that opponents will be forever damned to look upon, and, most of all, not letting public opinion get in the way of a public build.

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12. Toronto Star: Arctic Fort threatened by Climate Change
Canadian Press

Historic Arctic fort threatened by climate change may be preserved thanks to 3D technology


CALGARY—A historic fort threatened by melting permafrost in one of the most remote locations on Earth might be preserved thanks to 3D technology.

Fort Conger on Ellesmere Island was established in 1875 by British explorers looking for the North Pole.
It also served as scientific headquarters for the ill-fated Lady Franklin Bay expedition and was used by U.S. polar explorer Robert Peary in his quest for the North Pole.

“Melting permafrost is causing the surface area to sink and erode and that’s damaging the wooden buildings,” said Peter Dawson, a University of Calgary archeology professor.

“A lot of these historical sites in the Arctic are actually being impacted by the effects of climate change,” he said.

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13. Yellowknife EDGE: Yellowknife Heritage Committee in Turmoil
Mark Rendell

Mutiny at City Hall: Heritage Committee tries Booting Councillor

De facto Heritage chair Mike Vaydik says something


The City’s Heritage Committee is holding secret meetings and contemplating a split from City Hall after months of communication breakdowns and repeated no-shows from committee chair Coun. Phil Moon Son and members of City administration.

In June, former committee chair Mike Vaydik, who has remained de facto chair in light of Moon Son’s absence from the last three committee meetings, met with Mayor Mark Heyck to request that another councillor be appointed in Moon Son’s stead. According to Vaydik, Heyck told him to wait until after this fall’s municipal elections.

In the interim, the committee is postponing further official meetings until a new chair is appointed, and until “Administration presents the new Terms of Reference and provides an orientation on the restructuring of the Heritage Committee and instructions as to how it is to operate.”

Outside of official corridors, however, non-council or admin members of the committee have begun gathering in secret to figure out how to either repair their relationship with the City, or disengage from it. Vaydik says six of the eight non-council committee members attended the first such meeting last week.

He wouldn’t comment on exactly what was discussed. However, the minutes from the committee’s last official meeting, on June 17, give a sense of the fairly radical steps being considered: the committee “wondered if [it] could accomplish more as a stand-alone organization, operating at arm’s-length from City Administration or its Departments but with funding from the City (e.g. special or core grants) and other stakeholders.”

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14. Times Colonist: Dispute over moving costs for free Vancouver heritage homes heats up
Nick Eagland

A house at 246 East 5th St. in North Vancouver is prepared for moving. Photograph By Wayne Leidenfrost - See more at:

A free home isn’t always free.

Take, for example, the Ward Residence in North Vancouver. Developer Tien Cher wanted to spare the century-old heritage home on a property it’s developing from demolition.

Heather Patterson and her boyfriend fell in love with the Edwardian-style beauty, which the developer was offering for free to anyone who’d pay to move it.

It seemed like a win-win.

But now Patterson says the deal was misleading, after finding herself on the hook for costs associated with the move she believes the developer should have split with her.

Patterson took up Tien Cher’s offer in April of the home for no charge in the 200-block East 5th Street, and intends to relocate it to Maple Ridge this Friday. She was happy to pony up roughly $100,000 for the move and $50,000 in utility costs, she said, and even agreed to move a second heritage home from the site at the same rate.

But after speaking with several contractors and a financier about another $100,000 the couple is paying to remove asbestos and drywall — and excavation work related to the moves — Patterson said she thinks the developer has been unfair by causing her to incur costs that it would have incurred even if the homes were demolished.

“We were aware there would be costs — we didn’t go in thinking it would be a totally free house — but the issue for us lies in the fact that we specifically asked about these costs and were specifically told that they were related to the moving,” Patterson said.

She said contractors and a financier told her in recent weeks that developers usually pay a share of the cost of moving a house — but this was after she’d signed a deal without such a term.

Charan Sethi, founded of Tien Cher, said more than 120 people expressed interest in the two homes. A decision came down to Patterson and another woman, but Patterson was a better fit, and had a strong recommendation from Sethi’s daughter.

Charan Sethi disputes Patterson’s claim she was misled.

“We wrote a very clear, precise letter as to, ‘You are getting the free houses, but these are your responsibilities — to move the houses and everything to do with moving the houses is your cost,’ ” he said. “It was told to her verbally and then it was spelled out on two pages — a letter of understanding — on what her responsibilities are. And it was signed by her.”

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15. District Source (Washington, DC): When Development and Historic Preservation Work
District Source

Mural Image byPatricia Fisher


A little bit of serendipity and a lot of appreciation for the city’s historical heritage will save a piece of DC’s history. Well that and a still elusive $20,000.

The historic mural, painted on plaster inside an old Mount Vernon Triangle home could have been lost forever–as  is the often the way with the interiors of the District’s historic properties–instead the plan is for a professional conservation team to remove it so it can be displayed at the new museum for the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington (JHSGW).

How that came to be is a success story for collaboration among government, private developers and historical organizations.

In 2013 BlackRock Holdings, Inc.  bought the historic home at 415 M St. NW with plans to convert it into a multi-family residence with an addition in the side yard. The previous owner had discovered and done a basic restoration of a mural painted some 90 years ago on an interior wall by a small synagogue–likely composed of just a few  eastern European Jewish families.

“On the one hand we knew that a proper restoration of the nearly 160 year old building would necessitate a full gut of the existing structure.  On the other hand we knew such drastic renovation and repair would destroy this beautiful and historic mural of which we were now de-facto custodians.  None of us wanted to be a party to that kind of destruction,” said Patrick Moran, managing partner of BlackRock Holdings,  in an email to District Source.

While Moran and his team began researching what it would take to save this  piece of history, the D.C. Historic Preservation Office (HPO) was spreading the word that 415 M St. NW was going to be renovated. HPO reviewed the new owners’ plans to renovate and add onto the historic home on M Street.

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Editor's Note:See also, New Developments are Reconfiguring Downtown to Preserve the Past,

16. DeZeen: Demolition Imminent for Alison and Peter Smithson Landmark

MP calls for Robin Hood Gardens Demolition after Listing Bid Fails

The latest bid to grant listing status to the Brutalist Robin Hood Gardens estate in east London has failed and the local MP has called for it to be "brought down ASAP".

Public body Historic England – which administers and maintains the register of England's listed buildings – has announced that the UK government will not list the historic 1970s complex designed by architects Alison and Peter Smithson.

This is in spite of the revived campaign by heritage organisation the Twentieth Century Society, which is supported by architects including Richard Rogers.

Labour politician Jim Fitzpatrick, the elected member of parliament for Poplar and Limehouse, told Dezeen that the estate's historical significance is "nonsense".

"We have two buildings from the same period and style in Glenkerry and Balfron, and in much better condition," Fitzpatrick said. "Robin Hood Gardens is well past its demolition date, and should be brought down ASAP in my view."

Robin Hood Gardens was granted a five-year immunity from heritage listing in 2009 meaning that the council was free to demolish the complex. Although demolition was scheduled it did not take place, so at the end of the five-year period the Twentieth Century Society revived its original campaign, which had gained support from architects including Robert Venturi, Zaha Hadid and Toyo Ito.

Historic England has now said that the estate "does not make the grade" for listed status and has made a recommendation for a new certificate of immunity.

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