The Case For Resourcing Heritage Education

Mayfair demolition

The demolition of the Mayfair Hotel in Kitchener gets underway on May 19th 2015

‘As the dust settles from the demolition of the former Mayfair Hotel, and the last bricks from the 1905 building are carted away, many residents wonder at Kitchener’s legacy of protecting heritage. During city council deliberations over the fate of the Mayfair, many still mourned the loss of Kitchener’s 1924-built city hall, and the demolition of others: the quirky Barra Castle on Queen Street, the Lang Tannery outbuildings, and the former Forsyth factory.’ Waterloo Region Record

Barra Castle demolition

Demolition begins on the Barra Castle on Queen Street in Kitchener in 2010.

‘”What defines us is our industrial heritage,” says Leon Bensason, the city’s co-ordinator of cultural heritage planning. “It distinguishes us from Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph, London. We’ve only in the last several years understood the value of those buildings“.’

‘ “Kitchener used to hold heritage maintenance workshops but the city’s two heritage staffers’ time was taken up with planning reviews and other heritage work. We haven’t had the resources,” admits Bensason, who says education and outreach are “a critical part of the conservation process. We’re always likely to get better results through education than through regulation“.’

‘Rick Haldenby, former dean of the school of architecture at the University of Waterloo, said Kitchener isn’t much worse at preserving heritage than most other places in English Canada, where he believes “we don’t consider our buildings and our city as part of our culture. We consider them as functional objects that do something useful.” But the environment we build to live and work in really does reflect culture, he argues.’

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