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Issue No. 103 | September 30, 2007


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Feature Stories

  1. Minister of Culture Issues first Provincial Stop Order
  2. Heritage Tax Program Threatened in Toronto
  3. St. Thomas Times-Journal: Minister of Culture Intervenes to Save Moore Farmhouse
  4. London Free Press: Minister Intervenes to Save Moore House


Don Station Open House
Sunday, September 30
+ read

Planning and Growth Management Committee-Section 37 Benefits
October 4, 2007
+ read

The Fort at York
From Thursday September 20 through Saturday, October 13, 2007
+ read

TONITE 2007 Heritage Toronto Awards & William Kilbourne Memorial Lecture
October 15, 2007
+ read

Graphic Virtuosity/ Architectural Posters from the Robert G. Hill Collection
September 10, 2007- December 8, 2007
+ read

Lecture: Faces on Places
2 October
+ read

Exhibit of 2007 OAA Award Winners
Opening Friday, October 5
+ read

Improving Planning: TSA October Meeting
Tuesday 2 October
+ read

Heritage Canada Foundation Conference
October 11-14, 2007
+ read

Heritage Planning Workshops - Windsor
October 20, 21, and November 3,4
+ read

History on the Grand
Saturday, October 27, 2007
+ read

Heritage Ottawa's Fall 2007 Public Lecture
Wednesday, October 24
+ read

Don Station Open House
Sunday, September 30
+ read

October 5,6,7
+ read

Design at Riverside
August 28- October 28
+ read

October 6,7
+ read


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1. Minister of Culture Issues first Provincial Stop Order
Catherine Nasmith

Donna Moore dressed as Ancestor Samuel Moore, Quaker Settler in Spart
Moore farm house in Sparta gets a reprieve

Following pleas from members of the community, in St. Thomas press, and a letter from the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario President, the Minister of Culture, Caroline Di Cocco placed a Stop Order to stop issuance of a demolition permit for the John Moore farmhouse in Sparta. The previous week St. Thomas council had narrowly voted not to designate, thereby clearing the way for demolition of most of the building.

This order gives a period of 60 days for sober second thought during which the Minister of Culture will examine whether the property should be designated by the province. It may also encourage the local Council to revisit their decision last week not to designate.

The Moore farmhouse dates back to 1824 and was built by Quakers who settled in the Sparta area. It was also home to three brothers who all fought with William Lyon Mackenzie in the rebellion of 1837. It is an important building in the small village of Sparta, which is about ten minutes drive south west of St. Thomas.

Over the weekend letters poured into the Minister's office and to the office of local MPP Jim Peters, as well as to the Premier.  Undoubtedly the most fun piece of lobbying was done by Donna Moore, who dressed up as her ancestor Samuel Moore, and travelled from St. Thomas to Sarnia to drop in at the Minister's campaign office.

"Sam" was too late to see the Minister in person, but did have his photo taken in front of the campaign office.

Who says heritage conservation isn't any fun.

An extract from "Sam's" message to the Minister.

"I bequeathed the property to my son in my will of 1822.  It stands as an
outstanding example of pioneer architecture.  The bricks used were made on
John‚s farm, one of the five springs thereon supplying water to form a
shallow pool, where oxen patiently trod the clay to proper consistency to
use as mortar for the walls and foundations.  The lime was secured by
burning stopes found on the hillside. I believe that John was the first to
use Elgin lime for building purposes. The size, shape and pale strawberry
tint prove beyond doubt the century old hand-made brick, so easily
distinguished from the later product of brickyards of larger size and deeper
red color.  The stones used in combination with bricks, were gathered from
the farm.  This house is a treasure to be venerated, among the few rare old
homes left from pioneer days.  I am proud of my son and of the home he

2. Heritage Tax Program Threatened in Toronto
Catherine Nasmith

It is not news that Toronto’s Heritage Preservation Services (HPS) is understaffed, they have been since amalgamation. However things have gone from bad to beyond the pale.

The current fiscal crisis in Toronto hit just as two staff members had left the department. The City’s moratorium on hiring has made it impossible to replace them, leaving this critical but modest department trying to manage the whole City of Toronto, of 2.5 million persons with only 6 staff. That is far less than served the former City of Toronto at 600,000.

The workload is far too great, and no amount of triage will make it manageable. Staff in this section of the Planning Department are paid less than other planners. No wonder HPS members are leaving for other planning jobs.

Desperately trying to find ways to cut the workload and to respond to Council’s demand to cut city programs HPS is currently considering whether to recommend against implementation of the next phase of the Heritage Property Tax system. At the moment only National Historic Sites with Heritage Easement agreements are eligible to receive up to a 40% reduction in municipal property taxes, but starting next year the Heritage Property Tax program was to have expanded to allow all owners of designated property to apply. Staff will be needed to handle the anticipated deluge of inquiries, but so far the City has refused HPS permission to hire.

It took five years of aggressive lobbying of the province to get the legislation necessary for the City to be able to offer heritage tax benefits, and a further two years of pressing City Council to agree to the program. Mayor Miller delivered on this promise to the heritage community in his first term of office.

Clearly HPS will not be able to manage the program with the current depleted staff numbers, but it would be a huge step backwards not to implement the only heritage tax incentive program available.

If you are a Toronto subscriber, looks like its time to get those cards, letters and emails going to your councillor.

3. Heritage Opportunity Lost in CNE Hotel Proposal
Andrew Stewart

It's ironic that a play, "The Fort at York," which has just been launched at Historic Fort York, brings to life the events of the evening before the U.S. invasion of the Town of York (Toronto) during the War of 1812. At the same time, Exhibition Place, with its latest hotel proposal, may sink any possibility that the site of the nationally significant battle fought on 27 April, 1813, will ever be properly commemorated, unless the proposal fully takes into consideration its historic setting.

In another country, we would retain these historic lands surrounding Stanley Barracks on the original shoreline of Lake Ontario, with spectacular views of downtown, placing them at the centre of efforts to commemorate the city's history leading up to the bicentennial of the War of 1812.

The parking lots that surround Stanley Barracks at Exhibition Place could, with imagination, become Toronto's most interesting and beautiful park. It would serve several purposes: (1) interpret the six-hour Battle of York, involving nearly 3000 combatants; (2) add a much-needed, uncluttered park to the western inner city, where tens of thousands of new residents will shortly be living; (3) connect Fort York National Historic Site to the waterfront across its western approach and battlefield, establishing a historic trail that interprets this part of the city's history and linking the waterfront to the inner city; and (4) reclaim the original (pre-1850) Lake Ontario shoreline that runs through Exhibition Place as an important landscape feature where the Battle of York was fought; and (5) interpret Stanley Barracks and surrounding archaeological site, a remnant of the 1842 "New Fort."

4. St. Thomas Times-Journal: Minister of Culture Intervenes to Save Moore Farmhouse
Kyle Rea

Ministry halts demolition of historic house

Moore Farmhouse 1824

60-day stop order issued due to cultural concerns

The Ministry of Culture has stepped in and put a halt, at least temporarily, to plans to demolish the Moore House on Quaker Road.

A stop order, issued by Minister Caroline Di Cocco on Monday, prevents the home’s current owners, Henry and Anne Vandenbrink, from demolishing or removing the historic home, located at 6545 Quaker Road for a period of 60 days as of yesterday.

A copy of the order was sent to both the Municipality of Central Elgin and the Vandenbrinks.

The stop order, issued under the Ontario Heritage Act, cites two reasons for the intervention:

* The home may be of cultural heritage value; and
* The Moore House is likely to be removed or demolished.

Looking to build a new home, the Vandenbrinks applied to Central Elgin for a demolition permit in July and were told they had to wait 60 days as the 183-year-old home was listed as historically significant. Council voted 4-3 on Sept. 18 against designating the property, thereby allowing the permit to go through.

The stop order came as a surprise to Central Elgin Mayor Sylvia Hofhuis.
“We didn’t find out about this until this morning (Monday). I think this is the first time that this has happened to a private residence,” she said, noting the ministry has two choices. It can either designate the home itself or make  recommendations which will come back for Central Elgin council approval. The demolition permit still stands, Hofhuis noted, so if the home isn’t designated, the home could still be demolished.

Designating it directly would be unprecedented.

“Ultimately the minister of culture can choose to designate it, but that has never happened before that the minister has stepped in personally and designated a property,” said Hofhuis.
Council’s decision not to designate the property was a tough one, she said.

Click here for Link

Editor's Note:This will be one to watch, and sends a very clear message to all Municipal Councils that Ontario's heritage is valued by all Ontarians. Minister Di Cocco has done the right thing in choosing the more challenging path.

5. London Free Press: Minister Intervenes to Save Moore House

Moore house spared wrecker's ball for now

Provincial Culture Minister Caroline Di Cocco has intervened.

The provincial minister of culture has stepped in to temporarily stop the demolition of one of the oldest buildings in the London area.

Sarnia-Lambton MPP Caroline Di Cocco issued a stop order on Saturday on the demolition of the Moore house near Sparta.

Local and provincial heritage groups appealed to Di Cocco to intervene after Central Elgin council voted 4-3 last week against designating the 183-year-old building as a heritage site.

Di Cocco's order was issued days before the owners would have been issued a demolition permit.

"I'm heartened by the decision," Bob Burns, who recently resigned as chairperson of Central Elgin's heritage advisory committee, said yesterday.

The committee had recommended that council designate the house.

"It's too bad our council didn't follow the advice of their advisory committee," Burns said.

He resigned from the committee, saying there wasn't any point trying to convince council to preserve the site.

But now that the minister has issued a stop order, Burns said he's willing to lend a hand to Di Cocco.

Click here for Link

6. Toronto Star: Archaeology at Don Jail

Old Don Jail: 3 bodies found under old Don Jail

Don Jail in Toronto

Archeological survey finds remains of men, hanged for their crimes, buried in the jail yard

Part of the Don Jail's dark past has come to light in way that has archaeologists and history buffs abuzz.

On Tuesday, the skeletal remains of three men were uncovered below an adjacent north parking lot during excavation, all apparent victims of hangings, which started at the old Don Jail in the 1860s.

The three skeletons, believed to pre-date the 1930s, were on display for the media yesterday while a documentary television crew filmed the event.....

Click here for Link

Editor's Note:There is a fantastic video on the Toronto Star Site, with an interview with Ron Williamson, the chief archaeologist.

7. Globe and Mail: Demolition of Matador for a Parking Lot?

A ruckus at closing time

The city's move to replace a historic nightspot with parking has musicians, preservationists - and the local BIA - singing the blues

'They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

It may be the line from a famous Joni Mitchell song, but the words ring true for patrons of the Matador, a popular after-hours club where Ms. Mitchell has been a regular. As of this week, it has been targeted by the Toronto Parking Authority for demolition.

"I've spent my life here," says Ann Dunn, a 79-year-old mother of five who bought the club in 1962 and has been operating it ever since. "We've been good to Toronto, we've launched many a career, and now Toronto wants to turn us into a parking lot? It doesn't make any sense."

The Toronto Parking Authority wants the solid 93-year-old brick building for a 20-spot surface lot, and a decision to expropriate the property was approved by city council on Wednesday morning. "Oh my god!" Charmaine Dunn, who manages the club for her ailing mother, exclaimed when told of the news on Thursday. "I needed the heart of the Matador and the heart of my own mother - the two are connected - to keep on beating. It's not what we wanted. We at least thought we could negotiate this."

John Kingman Phillips, the Dunn family's lawyer, said the family would be preparing a response. "Expropriations are usually done when there is a need for a right-of-way or for urban development," he said. "But to do this for a 20-spot parking lot? It boggles the mind."

Click here for Link

8. Toronto Star: City to Tear Down Matador to Make Parking Lot!
Christopher Hume

43 years of history vs. 20 parking spots

10The gap between what the city does and what it says is growing wider.

That became clear recently when we heard that Toronto wants to buy the legendary Matador Club and tear it down to make way for a parking lot. A parking lot! A parking lot!

No, we're not making this up.

This is in the city that likes to pass itself off as the greenest on the continent. As if.

To add insult to injury – or should that be lunacy to idiocy – we also heard that if the owners of the 43-year-old club aren't prepared to sell their land to the city for $800,000, it will consider expropriation.

Truly, Toronto has lost its way. Truly, whatever our aspirations may be as a civic entity, they are fast being undone by a bureaucracy so out of touch with reality it's frightening. And where are the councillors in all this? Does their silence signal agreement? Creeping suburbanization is one thing, but this is neanderthal.

And as if all this isn't madness enough – expropriating an important site at the corner of College St. and Dovercourt Rd. – the city's intention is to create a 20-unit parking lot to service the West End YMCA across the road.

Click here for Link

9. Globe and Mail: Willowbank Restoration School
Dave LeBlanc

The future of how we'll handle our past

If only there were more people who understood the value of our built heritage. If only there were more people trained in restoration.

If only developers — rather than opting for teardowns — practised adaptive reuse of historic structures or the marriage of new architecture with old.

If only, if only, if only. Sometimes, we in the heritage community — and I most certainly include myself — sound like a broken record. We go on and on about what's wrong, but we rarely applaud what's right.

Well, the School of Restoration Arts at Willowbank is what's right. You might even say it's what's right now, since the school's three-year program doesn't even have third-year students yet — they're currently in their second year. But in the coming decades, it might represent the future of how we'll handle our past.

A few years ago, the estate — whose previous owner had intended to bulldoze it in order to build an inn and conference centre — was acquired by a preservation group led by Laura Dodson, who envisioned a place where students would learn by doing. (The group later included Bluma and Bram Appel, who secured additional funding from the American Friends of Canada.)

"Laura Dodson, who had a house in Wales, was in a church one time," begins school administrator Shelley Huson, "and there were students gilding the church —they were learning to gild while gilding — and she thought, 'What an amazing concept.' She had this idea always, [but] didn't have a property."

Starting small with some weekend workshops and short programs, the group determined that the only way to properly teach the restoration arts was to fully immerse students in a full-time program. After a few setbacks, the diploma program began last fall. The courses, taught by experts from the conservation field, cover topics such as the archaeology in the Niagara area, stained glass, managing a restoration project, various case studies, the types and properties of wood, drafting, lime plaster mixes and building a dry stone wall.

Click here for Link

10. Windsor Star: Heritage and Environment

Green designs benefit budget and environment

A member of Greenpeace for over 30 years, Windsor architect Joseph Passa comes honestly by his commitment to designing environmentally-friendly buildings. With dozens of his company's green designs popping up across the region, Passa Associates Inc. is among Canada's leading designers of environmentally-friendly buildings. A list of awards backs up their expertise. "Green buildings have been my passion for decades," said Passa, who was trained in Canada and New Zealand.

Click here for Link

11. St. Catharine's Star: Woodruff House returns to St. Davids
The 180-year-old Woodruff House is returning - piece by piece - to St. Davids nearly 40 years after it was dismantled

Assembly required

Assembly required; The 180-year-old Woodruff House is returning - piece by piece - to St. Davids nearly 40 years after it was dismantled

St. Catherines Standard, September 8, 2007

The road to returning a 180-year-old house to its roots in the village of St. Davids starts in Port Hope. Blair Harber can show you photos of his first meeting with Peter and Jane Rumgay of Port Hope, among the last in a string of people who coveted the William Woodruff home. This meticulous engineer turned antique home buyer, who often restores antique cars in his spare time, has every detail carefully documented in a white, three-ring binder. Musty newspaper articles and photos fill the pages...

Click here for Link

12. Toronto Star: 1820's Mercer Farmhouse for Sale in Etobicoke
Paola Loriggio

Loyalist Samuel Mercer built it with bricks of clay from nearby creek

Mercer Farmhouse

A historic farmhouse believed to be Toronto's oldest privately owned building is back on the market.

The Samuel Mercer heritage house, a Georgian-style brick home on Old Burnhamthorpe Rd. in Etobicoke, was put up for sale in early September by owners Leonard and Janis Bargent, with an asking price of $750,000.

"We're lowballing it in the hopes of attracting as many bidders as possible" Janis Bargent says. About 15 prospective buyers have already toured the house, which dates back to the 1820s. The Bargents bought the landmark building in 1998 for $425,000 from the Magill family, who restored the farmhouse in keeping with its historical style.

A Loyalist travelling north from Pennsylvania, Samuel Mercer settled in Etobicoke in 1811 and purchased roughly 500 acres around what is now Old Burnhamthorpe Rd., according to Etobicoke Historical Society historian Katharine Williams. At the time, the pioneer paid about £2.5 per acre for the property. Since then, subdivisions and shopping malls have closed in on the house, reducing the property to about one-sixth of an acre.

The family built their two-storey home on top of a slight hill, flanked by black walnut trees, one of which still stands. Workers raked the nearby creek for clay to fashion bricks they laid in the Flemish bond style, an expensive construction method at the time. Though Samuel Mercer died in 1830, the house stayed in the family for several generations.

Click here for Link

13. Globe and Mail: FLW Usonian House joins Fallingwater Site

New Wright house added to architect's showcase

ACME, PA. — Western Pennsylvania has long been home to two of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright's best known works, Kentuck Knob and Fallingwater.

Now, a third Wright creation, the Duncan House, has been moved here from Lisle, Ill., offering visitors a broad architectural experience — tours of two impressive homes and an overnight stay in a 1950s-era house.

Each of the homes is a different style, providing an overview of the artist's work in a 50-kilometre radius, making it one of just about a dozen places in the United States where several Wright buildings are on display in a concise area. Duncan House is one of only six in the country that are open to overnight guests.

"This is the trinity for us," said Patricia Coyle, director of marketing at Kentuck Knob. "We sell fantasy here because people come through here and they are transcended from their everyday life into Frank Lloyd Wright's vision."

Click here for Link

14. New York Times: Jane Jacobs Exhibit at Municipal Arts Society

Jane Jacobs, Foe of Plans and Friend of City Life

An exhibition at the Municipal Art Society challenges visitors.

Nearly a half century ago, at the dawn of an era renowned for its utopian dreams and dystopian diagnoses, a journalist who loved the American city wrote an attack on all the professional planners and idealists who believed they could design the perfect urban habitat, the city beautiful, a metropolitan Eden.

Forget it, was the message Jane Jacobs elegantly hammered home in that 1961 book, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities.” There is no utopia to be found. And every fantasy of such a paradise — the Modernist towers of Le Corbusier, the Garden Cities of Ebenezer Howard, the cleared slums and ribboned roadways of Robert Moses — has led to urban desolation and ruin. At the time she wrote her book, cities were beginning to totter like drunken derelicts seeking lampposts for support.

As an exhibition opening today at the Municipal Art Society reminds us, Jane Jacobs did not believe that planners could ever restore life to American cities. Instead she put her faith in the chaos of urban life, in diversity, in people — the grocery store owner, the young mother, the child playing in the street, the watchful busybodies leaning out of windows. Cities were at their best, she wrote, when the “ballet of the sidewalks” was evident, a dance that was intrinsically “spontaneous and untidy.” Her prescription was simply not to get in its way.

Click here for Link

15. AIA: Website: Call for Story Ideas on Preserving Modern Buildings
link forwarded by Lloyd Alter

You Have Spoken

Villa Savoie, Poissy France, 1928

And you said, “Preservation of Modernist Buildings”
In response to our September 7 poll question of “What do you think should be the theme of AIArchitect’s next ‘theme issue?’” close to 45 percent of respondents chose “Preservation of Modernist Buildings,” to be presented on December 21. Because it worked well with our first theme issue, we purposely are keeping our submission rules loosely defined—essays, projects proposed, projects completed, concept ideas, buildings in danger, needed code changes, etc. Please submit a one-page description and no more than five low-res JPEG files by e-mail to Managing Editor Stephanie Stubbs. No need to be fancy—the AIArchitect editors will develop all proposals into finished articles. All submissions must be received via e-mail by November 1. (Photo from “Modernism: Designing a New World” exhibit of Le Corbusier’s iconic Villa Savoie, Poissy, France, 1928, © Fondation Le Corbusier.)

Click here for Link

Editor's Note:Bata, Riverdale Hospital, Trend House, Inn on the Park.....we are losing Toronto's modern landmarks at an astounding rate.

16. What is the Best Method for Uncovering Paint Colour Layers?
Cory Lemos

I want to record the various paint colour layers using what little original woodwork is still left in our late 1800 rowhouse. For this project I have decided to use the stair banister. Working within a small section I’ve been able to uncover some interesting heritage colours but it gets difficult to identify when I get down to the first two or three original layers.

Knowing that there is a possibility of some paints containing lead I wonder if someone has a suggestion?

One time someone told me that U of T has a lab that may be able to analysis a paint chip, but I was not able to find out what department provides this service.

If you have an answer, please email



The best method for determining the history of the paint finishes is to do a Paint Investigation and Analysis. By removing small paint samples and investigating them under a microscope, you are able to document the various layers. More than one sample is usually required and various components are sampled. The data from each sample is compared and working with known and often general knowledge of finishes, it results in a finish history for the building.

Feel free to call me for further information. I have done numerous finish investigations and will be lecturing on the topic at Willowbank in Dec.

Deborah Hossack,
Registrar, Historic Places Initiative
Ministry of Culture
400 University Ave., 4th Fl.
Toronto ON M7A 2R9

ph: 416 314 7204