Monday was National Heritage Day.
While many heritage organizations celebrated and encouraged the
preservation and promotion of Canada's nationally significant historic,
architectural, natural and scenic heritage, The Newfoundland Historic Trust announced it's annual endangered historic sites to alert citizens to the vulnerability of many of our heritage buildings and structures and the need for preservation.
One of this years highlights was the Trust's concern for our historic lighthouses which dot the headlands and points of our province.
The Newfoundland Historic Trust was established in 1966 as a citizen's
response to the threatened demolition of Christ Church, a small Anglican
chapel (1842) in the village of Quidi Vidi on the outskirts of St.
John's. There was no organized preservation effort in Newfoundland at
the time, and public discontent and frustration were building as more
and more historic buildings throughout the province were being lost
through demolition or neglect.
The Trust has dedicated itself to the preservation of all forms of architecture
reflecting the culture and heritage of Newfoundland and Labrador, and to the
enhancement of street patterns and streetscapes, linking social and
If you are interested in becoming a member of the Trust, a form can be downloaded here. The cost is $5 for students, $25 for families and $40 for groups and organizations.
Interestingly enough, two years ago the Trust had named the Newman Building, 1 Springdale Street, which houses the Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Foundation, as a building at risk. In the update section of this years list, the Trust provides an update on efforts to preserve this building "the provincial government painted the front door and fence in 2011. More action is required in order to restore the building to a satisfactory condition."
As much as the government has poured money into culture, they have not done enough with build heritage. The fact that the leading heritage organization in the province is operating out of an historic building that is on the Trust's endangered historic sites list is very telling of the government's commitment to protecting and conserving it's own historic buildings.
I admit, that criticism may be unfair in light of the investment the province has made in restoring the Colonial Building, the home of the province’s
first legislature. The Provincial Government has committed approximately $13 million to the
total Colonial Building restoration budget of $22.3 million.
However, one might expect the flagship government agency, responsible for build heritage, would not be sitting on an endangered buildings list.
Heritage Day was established in 1973 by the Heritage Canada Foundation, and is celebrated the 3rd Monday of February