LETTER TO EDITOR:
Family Day in Ontario has recently past.
According to the Ontario Heritage Trust: “Since 1974, the third Monday every February has been identified as Heritage Day in Canada. In 1985, the Ontario Government designated the third week in February as Ontario Heritage Week with the federal Heritage Day kicking off the week.”
This presents an ideal occasion to take stock of some of Gravenhurst’s special Heritage sites.
Last year was a momentous year on the heritage front in Gravenhurst.
For many years, the Port Hole to the Past annual gathering marked the date.
This year an update on properties in the Gravenhurst Municipal Register of Heritage Properties need suffice. The register keeps track of listed and designated properties of recognized cultural value.
On the positive side, 2020 saw the successful completion of much needed roof work and a repaint of the railway station, which has served the town in some capacity since at least 1919. It is owned by the town and is a designated historical property.
A new purpose is again being sought for the building, which hopefully will see the reintroduction of passenger rail service as we build back better.
And after months of diligently trying, it looks like efforts to save the former clerk’s office (1887) may not happen.
The pandemic came at the wrong time, but obstacles were perhaps insurmountable anyway. The building remains off its foundation on Bethune Drive.
Unfortunately heritage buildings often come to public attention only when under threat.
This is also the case with Scott Hall (once known as Massey Hall, built 1915) at the Ontario Fire College.
This beautifully preserved hall, part of the provincially-operated institution, is one of Gravenhurst’s heritage listed gems.
Its future may be compromised with the recent announcement that the college is closing at the end of March.
Elsewhere, plans are afoot when people can gather again in some semblance of normalcy to recognize volunteers who completed in 2020 the fine restoration of the two designated wheelhouses (RMS Cherokee and RMS Islander), which flank the entrance to the Muskoka Discovery Centre.
On a wider front, heritage organizations across Ontario have looked askance at the new operating basis for much of what they do with the need to come to grips with provisions of Ontario Bill 108 and the increasingly frequent application of Ministerial Zoning Orders that have radically altered development projects, many of which threaten conservation.
We trust that as this new bill is rolled out, we, as concerned citizens, will be able to figure out the new method of conserving more of Gravenhurst’s wonderful heritage before it is lost.