"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Monday 23 September 2013


When I was elected  and before , farmers throughout Ontario were  abandoning old farmhouses and  building  themselves modern bungalows at the road.

The volunteer fire brigades might be invited to set the old one alight and use it for fire practice.

At that time many  small frame  houses in the country  had no front steps up to the door. Taxes were higher with steps.

Later it became  a  DIY to renovate old farmhouses  while living in them.

Decorator  magazines  and T.V. shows featured  divine transformations.

One owner was asked the question;  Was  it worth it?

The answer was prompt and decisive. They couldn't wait to sell and forget  the  cataclysmic misery  of  ten years of living in a construction site and not knowing what the next problem would be.

I was asked ;" what  do you think ? Would you renovate  a hundred year old farmhouse?"

I thought  about  what I knew.

About sagging ceilings , bulging walls of lathe and plaster. Sloping floors with  bumps and rises and patches of rot here and there; Dirt  floors in basement crawl space.

Stairs ,little  more than ladders,sloping  towards the  outside wall of the  house ,leading to the second floor . Two sets .One out of the kitchen.

 Smell of old plaster and rodent  and insect infestation  I thought of  attic floors with  ceiling high enough for  sleeping pallets  for children and  a doorway that wasn't full height either. A wood burning stove might b in in the centre of the main floor with a metal chimney going up through a hole to the attic and through the roof.

House fires were regular events in the city and the country.

I said;

If an old farmhouse had any  renovation value , I think the old farmer would be the first to recognize it.

Instead , they  built modern bungalows down by the road.   Or  they sell the farm and winter  every year in Florida.

The  farm is their pension.  Farming doesn't provide  security for old age.


Anonymous said...

One real problem beside the obvious of plumbing & roofing was the complete lack of hanging space. There were just rows of hooks available.
But then no one had that many clothes & possessions. Perhaps that is why modern builders are putting in those enormous walk-in closets.

Anonymous said...

How about you as a heritage member of council?
You do the parallel work: tree, building, Evelyn Buck?

What are the pros and cons of paying for your heritage keep? Worth a look?

I'm sure you'd be enlightened by such an exercise.
I was when it was presented to me.
Food for thought....not fast food, but whole food.

Non, ya say?
Not a valid POV?

Anonymous said...

“Provincial legislators might have assumed, judgment would be exercised at the municipal level”. Evelyn you just gave me my first chuckle of the day!

Anonymous said...

I sure hope you are not suggesting that our Council might take over the job of landscaping that guy's property and maintaining those trees. Forever and ever?

Anonymous said...

Ya know, you're a real 'up' person.

Anonymous said...

One person's heritage is another person's firewood.

There are probably few "heritage" designated buildings in Ontario that are 175 years old. Age is not a criterion for heritage.

There must be other intrinsic values: architecture, a place where an historically significant document was composed or signed, a place where an historically significant person lived or where an important discovery was made.

Think of London and nearby Windsor Castle that has stood for hundreds of years; think of Rome and the Coliseum that has stood for several thousand years; think of Athens and Parthenon that has stood for even more thousands of years, or the Pyramids or the Great Wall of China, both far older yet.

Because we are a relatively new country we seek to designate "heritage" where none really applies.

Anonymous said...

Hadn't visited Christopher for a while. He's been busy.

Anonymous said...

A false assertion, 10:49, when "heritage" is determined in a local context. Our "firewood" can be easily designated as significant to this area - your Old World examples aren't relevant in that regard.

Anonymous said...


Was the Petch House a building with "heritage" value? It was removed and rebuilt so that today it bears not the slightest resemblance to the original. Is it still a "heritage" structure? I think not.

I would direct you to the World Heritage Sites listed by UNESCO.

Our local lumber that has apparently served in the past as training grounds for fire-fighters does not come close to qualifying as a "heritage" designation.

Anonymous said...

Again 12:00/10:49, World Heritage Sites are exactly that; sites that are significant on a worldwide level. Locally-significant heritage sites are important to the local area in which they are situated. Similar concepts on a vastly different scale.

Anonymous said...

Admit it, 11:19. Aurora blew it with the Museum, mishandled donations to their collection & can't even manage to acquire a Pet Burial Ground site. Go to Georgina & visit an Indian village.

Anonymous said...

12:56, will you *admit* that none of those things have anything to do with this particular discussion?

Anonymous said...

There’s some firewood in Richmond Hill (Yonge and Elgin Mills). It’s in the middle of an industrial area. Dealership beside it purchased to eventually expand the business. Heritage said it had no architectural merit, but does have “significant cultural and heritage value”. It was a home purchase by the first Mayor of Richmond Hill when Richmond Hill was a village then became a town. This firewood was purchased 8 years after his last term in office! Crazy.

Anonymous said...


Perhaps Aurora Town Hall should be designated a local heritage site since it is so important to the local area in which it sits.

One can come up with a plethora of dubious and idiotic decisions that have been plotted and hatched within its walls.

It is the fount from which flow literally millions of completely wasted dollars, all in the name of the people.

Anonymous said...

Can I butt in ? The subject would appear to be ' heritage '. Is not the museum a part of Aurora's heritage? It's artefacts ? The possible pet burial site ? If not, what are you discussing ?

Anonymous said...

Heads up. It is beginning to look like some hysterical outfit is floating the idea of using the Reserve Hydro Fund to purchase the Willow Farm. NOT.