Award-Winning Heritage
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Award-Winning Heritage

Wesley Building after exterior restorationThe strange thing about heritage in Toronto is that we don’t really appreciate what we’ve got until it’s neglected, threatened, or already gone. By the time we get around to caring, it’s frequently too late to preserve anything. Yet somehow, perhaps despite ourselves, Toronto is blessed with a sizable complement of heritage buildings scattered throughout the city. The urge to preserve our built heritage stretches back at least 130 years; the York Pioneers, who claim to be the oldest historical society in Ontario, moved John Scadding’s cabin from the banks of the Don River to its current location on the grounds of Exhibition Place in 1879. In other cases, our built heritage is torn down seemingly out of spite.
The challenges for preservationists in Toronto always seem to be raising awareness among the general public—getting them to care about buildings and architectural styles that may be out of fashion at the moment—and convincing politicians that the sky won’t fall if they protect significant buildings or districts from insensitive development.
The Heritage Toronto Awards, in their 34th year, shine a spotlight on all aspects of our heritage, granting awards in four categories: architectural conservation, books, media, and community heritage. Heritage Toronto recently announced the 2008 nominees. The six architectural projects in the running this year range from extensive restoration work done on the exterior of the Wesley Building (better known as the soon-to-be-former home of Citytv at 299 Queen Street West) to the rehabilitation of the portico at Regal Road Public School. Other nominees in the category receive their nods for work on the Kingston-Lambton United Church, the Canadian Volunteers Memorial in Queen’s Park, King Parliament Square, and Breden Galbraith House in Lawrence Park.
In addition to rewarding work done on buildings, the awards consider the full range of positive heritage work being done in this city by nominating heritage groups: the Draper Street Residents Association, Scarborough Historical Society, North Toronto Historical Society, Kensington Market Area National Historic Site Designation Working Group, Cabbagetown/Regent Park Community Museum, and the O’Connor Irish Heritage House are all in the running.
Eight books about our shared history are vying for top honour in the books category: The Great Adventure: 100 Years at the Arts & Letters Club, Concrete Toronto, Mean City, Rifke: An Improbable Life, Historical Distillates, I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land: A Lost Tale of the Underground Railroad, My Life in Crime and other Academic Adventures, and Toronto Sprawls. And finally, the media category merits two nominees: the National Post for a heritage feature series and the Distillery District Heritage website.
The awards will be given out during an evening program at the Carlu on Monday, October 27. Tickets are $25 for Heritage Toronto members or $30 for the general public.
Photo by Archangeli from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.