MHC seeks to preserve past
GRAVENHURST – Preserving the past for the future takes a decent amount of planning.
Hank Smith, Gravenhurst’s Municipal Heritage Committee chair, says plans for 2013 are in place and along with traditional annual events, the group is seeking to give historical designation to four more buildings.
Looking back on the more recent past, Smith said 2012 was another solid year of local historical recognition, especially as both the town and the RMS Segwun celebrated their 125th anniversaries with a number of one-time festivals and events. The committee also saw to the designation of the train station during Doors Open festivities last year.
“Planning for the future of a strong, vibrant community requires knowledge of the past and an understanding of what we value in the present; existing buildings, structures and landscapes often define a community’s unique identity, to give it character and a sense of place,” Smith said of the importance of the committee. “To help guide change it’s important to identify and protect the places in the community that have cultural heritage value.”
The first major recognition and designation will take place during Heritage Day and the annual Portholes to the Past events, scheduled for Feb. 16. Archives at the Muskoka Boat and Heritage Museum as well as the library will be open to the public and Smith said the theme this year will be “Boat Builders of both Gravenhurst and Muskoka”.
“You won’t want to miss that,” Smith beamed.
The first two of four designations with plaquing ceremonies will take place that day, including for the Cherokee and Islander wheelhouses, starting at 11:30 a.m. by the heritage centre.
Smith explained last year’s plaque ceremony for the train station was the first of its kind in town and although four are planned for 2013, he said the committee’s goal is to plaque two or three buildings each year.
He added that through 2013, the heritage committee will be working on an application system for private owners to have their historic buildings or properties designated as historically significant.
Later in the year Smith said there will be plaque ceremonies for both the opera house and the Terence Haight Carnegie Centre although exact dates are not yet set.
The committee will lead Doors Open events again in 2013, scheduled for June 15 with the theme of “Cultural Expressions”.
Smith said new venues will be added into the itinerary this year for people to visit and tour, including the town fire hall, the Masonic Temple, St. James Church and a few more.