Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Monday, December 28, 2015

Movin' on Up

1130 Whitevale Road - early doorcase, unusual brick lintels
Now it could be said that it's none of my business, but an email from Steve, a fellow ACO member from Collingwood has impelled me to write. There is a lot of local controversy and a valiant fight in some circles to save these lovely stone houses east of the charming hamlet of Whitevale, their bad fortune to be in the path of incoming flights for Pickering's new airport. First the 407 expansion, now this airport, are changing forever the face of what used to be farming country and village life, east of Toronto.
940? Palladian window, beautiful stone

 I optimistically promised to visit the Whitevale road neighbourhood to capture these houses myself, on a recent Toronto visit. As it turns out, our destinations were downtown ones, and Whitevale was a long struggle through traffic away. So I appreciate even more, these photos provided by Steve.
1390 - when was the last time you saw a stone salt-box?

Whitevale has been in the news for some time as this "land over landings" debate has dragged on for decades. Despite the fact that the hamlet of Whitevale is a Heritage Conservation District surrounded by a buffer of Hamlet Heritage Open Space, the area is about to suffer the loss of irreplaceable built heritage.

Steve reports that the threatened houses are on the north side of Whitevale Road, between the village and Brock Road. I've travelled that stretch virtually using Streetview. The area was visited by the SV camera during summer, when vegetation was very thick, but I believe I have seen one of the houses. Another thing I noticed were the fields and fields of crops, and other good land lying fallow waiting for development. As a farm kid, that hits me almost as hard as the loss of built heritage.

Steve also mentions that 'the province,' acting a bit like a thug threatening a group of hostages, has already demolished one house, "a wonderful Georgian brick house west of Whitevale." And as he points out, it's hard to see from this map why the Whitevale Road houses even need to be demolished. This very detailed presentation contains photos of dozens of structures and landscapes - 'Cultural Heritage Resources' - worth retaining.
the changing face of annexed GTA land 
So. Granted this is not my fight. And granted, I may not have all the facts. But I add my voice to those of the citizens of Whitevale who are challenging this proposed demolition.

Denny at David Gohn Circle
All may not be lost.

But if people cannot stop city hall (or in this case, the province) may I suggest that if we cannot preserve important built heritage standing in the path of inexorable progress (I admit to appreciating the 407 occasionally, myself) I believe the standard, perhaps the imperative, should be to relocate it  Especially when the costs can easily be born by a government or a large development firm. Sure it's not a perfect solution, but demolition isn't either.

Some time ago Markham developed a subdivision of heritage homes threatened by its development, David Gohn Street . We visited once back in 2011- here's a link to the post. At the time Blogger didn't allow many photos; I should repost with more.

glimpse from the former Picton railway station yard
Then there's the story from Picton about a recent successful move by CDS Movers of Ottawa, of a lovely early brick house, to make room for an expanded LCBO. The CDS website features stories of heritage home moves in Walkerville, Ottawa and lots more.

Or the 2007 account of an historic Brampton house in the way of relentless development, moved and restored by Habitat for Humanity - a first house for two deserving families.

And there's Upper Canada Village, for Pete's sake, and many other heritage parks which were created from relocated buildings - preserving our history. Notice how popular these places are? Sadly, we lose our history when we lose the buildings that tell our story.

Let's not lose any more.

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