Wednesday, February 22, 2012


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 preservation concerns.

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


Anonymous said...

Why waste good money on old buildings that days are number? Fix them up for a while, than they cost too much to maintain and fall into disrepair again.

In with the new and out with the old. I would rather see my tax dollars go to healthcare, education and roads!

Anonymous said...

Anon makes some good points, why should we waste money on some "old buildings". I mean these buildings do nothing for the people and the economy of the province, and groups expect our money to keep them stand? outrageous. Honestly, what do some old buildings around our province do? They just stand there, never mind that it's our culture and that they are historic, shag it! knock them down!

It's not like people go to Bonavista, Port Union, Twillingate or even St. John's to look at these relics of the past. How do keeping these buildings standing help us, the tax payer? With all the money that the government shovels out into these groups they only attracted 518,500 visitors. That's just basically our entire population visiting our province. I bet you if you asked if they were proud of these numbers they would say yes! I mean really we should demand double that many people to visit our little rock in the North Atlantic.

Of all those 518,500 people they only added $410.6 million dollars to the economy. That's it! Imagine their gal to use some of that money to save building that attract people here and get more people to spend money.

I agree with Anonymous, why should we be spending the amount of money that we spend on some old buildings, which are some of the main attractions that draw people to our province? We should just let them rot, and let our culture rot with them. All the money should be spent on health care, education and roads. Why should the government be spending any money other than essential services? Even if it does bring in millions of dollars that we can spend on health care, education and roads.

Anonymous said...

Really, Anonymous? How about the buildings be kept in use? Can you imagine London or Paris (or just about any old european town) if all of the old buildings were razed because they're old? Before you claim there's no comparison... those buildings didn't spontaneously become landmarks and culural treasures... That happens with time... We just haven't had enough of it yet on this side of the ocean. In a modern society with diminishing oral history these buildings are a touchstone to the past. If they disappear then it's a case of "out of sight, out of mind".

Anonymous said...

Like the Matthew replica what cost millions to build, millions to house and is now rotting! Some good investment their too.

I say make all of those old relic mansions and stuff Guy Fox attractions!