July 21, 2009
by Canadian Architect
The Heritage Canada Foundation (HCF) has released its Top Ten Endangered Places and Worst Losses lists drawing attention to a total of 17 architectural and heritage sites in Canada either threatened with demolition or already lost.
The Top Ten Endangered Places List, compiled from nominations received as well as from news items that HCF has been following and reporting on throughout the year includes:
1. The David Dunlap Observatory and Park, Richmond Hill, Ontario, a scientific and cultural landmark associated with Canada’s international accomplishments in the field of astronomy – threatened with development
2. Vancouver’s Pantages Theatre – the city’s oldest vaudeville house – heading for landfill
3. Bellevue House, Amherstburg, Ontario, a National Historic Site connected to the War of 1812 – a scandalous case of demolition by neglect
4. Quebec City’s Franciscan Sisters Missionary Chapel – the finest example of neo-baroque décor in the province – praying for a miracle
5. Moncton High School, New Brunswick, magnificent sandstone landmark, victim of province’s lack of commitment to existing schools
6. Dominion Exhibition Display Building II, Brandon, Manitoba – monument to agriculture and National Historic Site – hovering on the brink of collapse
7. Quebec’s Grenville Canal, one of the oldest military canals in Canada, desperately seeking funding
8. St. Mary’s Community School, Saskatoon – the oldest Catholic school in the city – destined for landfill in order to create a “green” space
9. Crowsnest Pass Mining Complexes and Coleman’s Historic Downtown, Alberta, home to designated historic mining sites suffering from neglect, vandalism and development pressures
10. Heritage Conservation Districts in Ontario – landmark Ontario Municipal Board decision threatens integrity of provinces more than 90 designated heritage districts
Topping the Worst Losses list is the historic Alma College in St. Thomas, Ontario, tragically lost to fire just hours after the local MPP met with Premier McGuinty’s chief of staff about its preservation.
Examples of historic places needlessly destroyed by the wrecking ball are plentiful: Ontario leads the country with the demolition of the heritage-designated Erie Street United Church in Ridgetown, and the Muskoka’s Modernist Marygrove Resort that was torn down in the name of development progress. The iconic Bens Deli Restaurant in Montreal was torn down in favour of a 14-storey boutique hotel with, ironically, a restaurant on the ground floor. Out west, Edmonton lost its oldest apartment block, the elegant Arlington Apartments, to bureaucratic wrangling; and in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, the massive Souris Valley Hospital was consigned to landfill. In Halifax, Nova Scotia the Violet Clark Building, the last wooden “sailortown” structure on Water Street, was demolished – a scapegoat in a larger development dispute.
The Heritage Canada Foundation is a national, membership-based, non-profit organization with a mandate to promote the preservation of Canada’s historic buildings and places.
For more information, please visit www.heritagecanada.org/Top_Ten_Backgrounder_2009_E.pdf and www.heritagecanada.org/eng/2009%20WlossesFinalListE.pdf.