Hertitage Home Magazine

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Issue 1 Number 1



Master Millwork

Harry Schell framing the past and future of Schell Lumber and our heritage homes

Conservation Instigation 6 ways to improve Ontario’s conservation plan

Looking Back Stickley Furniture: The man who started it all

Calgary’s Identity Crisis Fast-tracking into the future; struggling to preserve the past


How to get insured, historic paint colours and much more!

in this issue

24 Features 13 Building Blocks On the cover:    18  Pane for pleasure    Harry Schell, 82-year-old       millworker, is more than    just a master of his craft.    By Carla Wintersgill

Will Calgary’s heritage buildings be forgotten after new, modern buildings overtake the city’s skyline? By Stephanie Weidmann


24 Stickley Situations

A glance at Gustav Stickley’s life and work: how Stickley Furniture came to be. By Kerry Lange


Departments 3



Publisher’s Message Welcome home. By Darryl Simmons

Library Tale A history of the Thornhill Village Library. By Adam Birrell

Endangered Homes How you can help preserve heritage homes. By Kenneth J. Hoyle

9  MAking Your Home a    Historical Symbol Designation processes

in Markham, Ont. and Edmonton Alta. By Johanne Yakula

10 To Conserve and     Protect Your heritage home

insurance guide.

By Marlene Campbell

30  Brushing Up The Vancouver Heritage

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Foundation’s True Colours paint program for your heritage home’s exterior. By Diane Switzer and Donald Luxton


Welcome Home

PUBLISHER DARRYL SIMMONS (905) 370-0101 info@mediamatters.ca ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER OREST TKACZUK (905) 370-0101 orest@mediamatters.ca

By darryl simmons

Introducing you to us. FOUNDING EDITOR JOE RAYMENT


ometimes you pick the home and sometimes, the home picks you. Either way, the relationship you have with your home has led you here — to Heritage Home magazine, the publication about Canada’s heritage. A home, as opposed to a house, is more than just bricks and mortar. Just like their owners, homes have histories, philosophies and personalities — a home has a soul. Heritage homes aren’t defined by age. As far as we’re concerned, they capture the essence of a particular historical period. They are built with care, like a fine piece of art, and are treated respectfully by the people who live in them. You don’t own a heritage home; you live with it, and it lives with you. Heritage Home caters to those who want and believe it is possible to integrate our past with the future by using the tools and materials of the present. Our readers share a deep passion for older homes. They feel strongly about maintaining authenticity when it comes to home preservation and restoration. They will not settle for a replica of hardwood laminate, for example. Instead, they will go out of their way to “pull, strip and dress” oak-strip flooring. Heritage homeowners today want to be highly involved in the conservation of their homes. By reading Heritage Home, you’re doing just that.

Our magazine provides practical, step-by-step articles for serious homeowners and renovation professionals on how to restore, renovate and preserve interiors, exteriors, landscapes and streetscapes of heritage homes and buildings. Furthermore, our in-depth feature stories are truly inspiring and may play a large role in making you feel closer to the homes and people of Canada’s growing heritage community. Our mission is to inform and serve those who are just as passionate about Canada’s heritage as we are, as well as to educate those who perhaps aren’t as heritage happy about how exciting and important our heritage is. We are striving toward becoming a central source of information for all things heritage. One of our goals is to address not only the general needs, but also the the individual needs of heritage homeowners. You fall in love with a home because it has character, a story and, if you know what to listen for, a voice. Adopting a heritage home lifestyle — and it is a lifestyle — is a choice you make that leads you into the future and simultaneously allows you to embrace the past. Heritage Home is the definition of that lifestyle, which makes us the perfect new addition to your home.


Heritage Home is published by:

7725 Yonge Street, Suite 3 Thornhill, ON L3T 2C4 (t) 905-370-0101 (f ) 905-882-0457


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ideas & Advice

Library Tale By Adam Birrell

The Thornhill Village Library, a cherished historic landmark, is considered a second home to many of its regular visitors. But it was the primary home to several families before it was converted into what it is today.


passerby unfamiliar with the historic Thornhill area in Ontario might mistake the Thornhill Village Library for a house. Without the small wooden sign out front —

designed by Thoreau MacDonald, the son of Group of Seven artist, J.E.H. MacDonald — and the coming-and-going of faithful patrons, the Classical Revival-style building would perfectly camouflage with the heritage homes that line the street. The library, which holds over 30,000 books, is one of six branches of the Markham Public Library. Its comfortable armchairs and cute parlour make it a popular destination for locals to meet, work and read. And, upon entering the library, it’s almost impossible to ignore the building’s history. The walls at the entrance are lined with historical photographs of local streets, buildings and people, including some of the past owners of the home-turned-library.

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TOP: The library’s garden on the west side of the building. RIGHT: The Thornhill Village Library, at 10 Colbourne Street, is now over 150 years old.


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ideas & Advice

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ideas & Advice

John Ramsden, a miller, was the first owner of the building, but there is some discrepancy regarding when he had the home built — some say it was in 1845; others believe the house went up in 1851. His wife, Ellen Frizzell Lazier, whom he married in 1847, died at the age of 39 in 1853. Some say Ellen Ramsden still watches over the building. In fact, many patrons believe that her ghost lives in the library. The most well-known ghost sighting occurred 37 years ago, when a man reported seeing a woman ghost in a rocking chair in the back room muttering “John, John, John.”

10 Colbourne Street, ca.1920's Photographer Unknown; Weaver Collection, Thornhill Archives F 005-07

John Ramsden Photographer Unknown; Weaver Collection, Thornhill Archives F 005-07

In 1959, the Thornhill Public Library — it became public in 1952 — settled into 10 Colbourne Street after the financial assistance of the Thornhill Lions Club helped the Library Board purchase the building for $16,000 (that would be equal to about $118,000 today). When the building’s structure began to deteriorate in the mid-’70s, it was evident that something had to be done to ensure it’s future. So, in 1977, the library turned maintenance over to the Town of Markham in exchange for renovation and restoration coverage. A prominent Ontario architect named B. Napier Simpson Jr., whose office was coincidentally beside the library, was hired to draw up plans for the restoration and structural reinforcement. The already-existing two stories were stabilized, a basement was built, a new entrance was created on the building’s west side and the garage was transformed into a kitchen and washroom. In 1991, a permanent addition to the historic building allowed for more space, wheelchair accessibility and the disposal of two portables that were built in 1972.

A photograph that was taken in the 1920s shows part of the words "JOHN GRICE MERCHANT" painted onto an extension of the original house. Sometime before 1891, John Grice Jr., who was a merchant, moved into the home with his family. Together, they operated their general store from the main floor of the house until 1902, when they moved the business to a building directly to the west on Yonge Street. Between 1902 and 1959, five other families occupied the home, the last being Mr. and Mrs. Frank Tucker and their six children. Old photographs illustrate how each new owner altered and modernized the home.

Thornhill Public Library after restoration, ca.1977 Photographer: Alf Weaver; Weaver Collection, Thornhill Archives F 005-07

Today, this historic landmark, now over 150 years old, offers its visitors services beyond what an ordinary library could. And if you’re lucky — or unlucky — Ellen Ramsden’s ghost will show up to prove it. 06  heritage home heritagehome.ca

ideas & advice

Endangered Homes By Kenneth J. Hoyle; OALA, FCSLA, CAHP

Six tips on how you can help prevent Ontario’s heritage homes from becoming extinct.


ntario citizens have been witnessing a tragedy: our built heritage is diminishing and, in some cases, being demolished. The Ontario Heritage Act, which allows municipalities and the provincial government to designate

property as being of cultural significance and can prevent important buildings from being destroyed, has been helpful, but our heritage remains at risk. So, perhaps we must now focus on the wider issue of city planning and management as a means to better preserve Ontario’s beloved heritage. Our cities are transformed through the planning process. Can we, the citizens of Ontario, have a greater influence over this process? Can we convince our politicians that built heritage conservation is of public interest and worthy of funding? The economic, environmental and cultural arguments for conservation are well-documented, but the negative attitudes toward investing in heritage conservation still permeate political action. Although heritage conservation may not be a priority right now, city planning processes and economic development initiatives are at the forefront of municipal politics and have a wide appeal. Also, they’re often attached to significant tax expenditures. If heritage conservation can piggyback on these efforts, the situation can be improved without a significant increase in tax costs.

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ideas & advice

$ 20 cents 20 cents 20 cents

Here are some things you can do to help:

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Encourage elected representatives to budget for the preparation of a Heritage Master Plan (if your city doesn’t already have one) as support documentation for an official plan review. Municipalities would then be able to adopt stronger heritage policies within their official plans, which can lead to heritage-related issues becoming more defensible when challenged. Propose the establishment of a Community Heritage Foundation to your elected representatives if one doesn’t already exist. Propose an annual operating budget equivalent to 20 cents per person of your population.

Suggest height and density studies to be conducted that advocate land-use intensification, better utilize existing infrastructure and discourage suburban sprawl. Request computer modelling that fosters investment in your municipality while conserving valued built heritage resources as identified in the heritage master plan. Also, ask council to determine valued views and vistas.


If your community doesn’t have a Municipal Heritage Conservation Fund (MHCF), recommend the creation of one to provide tax relief for heritage property owners. It’s a superior alternative to the current Heritage Property Tax Rebate Program (under the Ontario Heritage Act), which encumbers a heritage property with easements. An MHCF dedicates 10 per cent of a designated property’s annual taxes to the fund, which they can access through the Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee. The fund is assigned to the property and remains with the property regardless of the owner. This increases the value of the property either by the utilization of the fund for conservation work, or by the unexpended funds accumulating in the property’s MHCF account.

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Take an active role in heritage conservation education by writing in to local newspapers or speaking to local service clubs and real-estate boards about the economic, cultural and environmental value of built heritage conservation. Advise heritage conservation-minded citizens to stand for election to municipal councils. Consider standing yourself. Participate more fully in the election process — it can be fun. At the very least, you’ll get to know your fellow citizens better and help build a stronger community.

Kenneth J. Hoyle is the president of Kenneth J. Hoyle, Strategic Planning and Management; past president of the Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals; past member of the Waterloo Heritage Foundation and past co- chair of Cambridge’s Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee.

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designation destinations

Making Your Home

a Historical Symbol By johanne yakula

Exploring heritage home designation processes in every Canadian city! Nothing is more gratifying to heritage home lovers than a drive through a neighbourhood filled with well-preserved historic homes. Beautifully restored to their former elegance, these buildings are the result of many dollars spent and hours worked. The efforts put forth by these building owners should be recognized, but more importantly, their buildings should be preserved for future generations. This preservation can only be guaranteed through legal designation. So, if your home is of historical significance, it may be time to apply for designation. Here, we examine heritage home designation in Markham, Ont. and Edmonton, Alta.

Markham, Ontario

In Markham, Ont., a town renowned for its stock of mid-19th-century buildings, any structure that predates 1930 is typically added to the Municipal Heritage Inventory. Although not necessarily candidates for designation, the properties are “flagged” as being of possible cultural heritage interest. The process of determining whether or not the property should be designated is usually triggered by an application to alter, demolish or rezone — anything viewed as potentially damaging to the building. The town then evaluates its architectural, cultural or historical significance to determine what level of protection to award the building. Markham boasts more than 200 “on title” designated properties and three heritage conservation districts. Markham takes preservation very seriously — its policies regarding appropriate materials, work and standards are strict and non-voluntary. So why willingly put yourself through this potential bureaucratic nightmare if you can opt out? According to George Duncan, senior heritage and conservation planner for the Town of Markham, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. “Designation is the recognition of the cultural heritage value of our historic

buildings,” he says. “It means to ensure that this legacy will endure for future generations.” There are immediate benefits as well. “There is a definite cachet in being part of the historic community, and because of this, designated heritage homes are often in superior physical condition. This is evident in resale values.” In exchange for designation and entering into a maintenance agreement with the Town of Markham, owners are eligible for a 30 per cent reduction in municipal and school taxes. They have the right to appeal the maintenance agreement, but, except in very rare cases, the town’s provincial conservation review board upholds the decision.

Edmonton, Alberta

In resource-rich Alberta, where historic designation is owner-initiated in most cases, the carrot is cash. Any buildings that are on the Inventory of Historic Resources in Edmonton are eligible for designation. The historic resources review panel evaluates applications for new designations, but the final approval comes from city council. Once legally designated, the homeowner can access funds up to $75,000 at the time of designation to help with

restoration. Commercial building owners are eligible for up to 50 per cent of the full cost of restoring the exterior character-defining elements. To sweeten the pot, both commercial-building owners and homeowners can access matching funds from the Province of Alberta if they designate their building through the city. With all these incentives in place, why would a heritage building owner not want to have his or her building designated? “For one thing, it’s more expensive,” says Robert Geldart, principal heritage planner for the City of Edmonton. “It requires more effort. Owners must understand that they need to repair first, and if that’s not possible they must replace in kind.” This requires research, knowledge about your project and help from the right tradespeople. Dealing with the bureaucracy takes patience and longterm planning — nothing happens quickly and many people don’t want to wait, admits Geldart. But, citizens of Edmonton say that preserving heritage buildings brings a community closer together, and you can have the pride of bringing a piece of the city’s history back to life. Issue 1 Number 1 heritage home   09



Conserve Protect and

By marlene campbell

A heritage homeowner’s guide to getting insured.


our historic building just received heritage designation and you are now a proud homeowner doing your part to preserve Canada’s built heritage, right? It may not be that simple. Have you thought about what this means

for your insurance policy? It does change things, but don’t panic — or try to take back the designation. It’s not that bad. It’s just a matter of getting the facts and putting the proper policy in place. So, you may have some homework to do, but it will surely benefit you in the end because, should the need arise, you want your insurance coverage to do what you assumed it would: protect your investment and restore your building to its former glory if it happened to incur damage.

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Pièce de rÊsistance

in your dining room

Find out where to decorate, restore, and maintain your historic home while staying true to its roots. visit heritagehome.ca

A home is more than bricks and mortar. Our readers understand that and, until now, they haven’t had a magazine that understands it too.


Determine replacement costs When insuring a property, insurance companies base their premiums on computer programs that generate the replacement cost of a comparable contemporary home or building in the event it be destroyed or damaged. For example, the replacement cost of a home with hardwood flooring would be more expensive than one with ceramic flooring. But that doesn’t work with designated heritage properties, many of which have unique, often elaborate features that reflect the styles of their time. There is no computer program to determine the replacement cost of plaster mouldings that require shipping in artisans from different parts of the country — it’s a unique situation. Before providing coverage, an insurance company typically requires an independent assessment to be performed in order to determine replacement cost, often at the expense of the homeowner. Many homeowners balk at this requirement since it is usually in addition to the cost of providing their own market valuation assessment as required by their bank to secure mortgage financing. Insurance companies will likely not accept a market value assessment to approximate replacement value. These are two very different things. Mary Lambe, office manager of Hickey and Hyndman Insurance in Summerside, P.E.I., points out that a client could pay $100,000 for a building in Summerside that would cost $800,000 to replace after a fire. The assessment, which must be kept current, is an upfront, out-of-pocket expense, but there is an advantage to this: the heritage building owner knows that everyone involved is aware of the replacement cost — no hidden surprises to add to the stress of an unexpected emergency. Determine the risks When insurers consider the cost of providing coverage for a building, they take into account the likelihood of processing a claim. To lower both the risk and premium, the 12  heritage home heritagehome.ca

building should be updated. In other words, the probability of incurring damage is greater if the house is older or poorly maintained, thus increasing the cost to insure your home. Be prepared to spend some time shopping around for insurance. After all, this building may be one of the biggest investments of your life; you want it to be properly insured.

Be aware of local laws Insurance companies also consider community and provincial legislation that pertain to heritage buildings when calculating your premium. For instance, when a heritage building is destroyed by fire, local laws often require that it be rebuilt on the original site with similar materials. Laws like this could raise claim costs and hence, your premium. After you’ve insured your home, stay up-to-date with heritage legislations in case something changes. Then, make sure your insurance coverage is revised accordingly. This may cost you money in the short term, but you’ll be glad you did it if you have to make a claim. Ask questions It’s great to save money, but when it comes to insuring your designated property, cutting corners may end up costing you more in the long run. Remember that premium cost isn’t the only factor. Be sure to ask about the claims settlement process and the policy’s deductible. Don’t be afraid to shop around and ask a lot of questions. Your insurance agent is your partner when it comes to preserving Canada’s built heritage. Be open and honest with him or her — it will put you in the best position to make an informed decision.

To find a qualified assessor: • Visit the Canadian Association of   Heritage Professionals’ website at   www.caphc.ca. • Check your local yellow pages. • Talk to other heritage property   owners and insurance   representatives.

To learn about what insurance companies are looking for: • Visit the Insurance Bureau of   Canada’s website at www.ibc.ca.

Additional tips and suggestions: • Obtain written materials from local   insurance companies. • Ask your municipality to provide   you with updates on bylaws. • Research provincial and municipal   heritage protection acts online by   visiting The Heritage Canada   Foundation website at   www.heritagecanada.org. • Take a look at the Canada’s Historic   Places website at   www.historicplaces.ca.

Like it or not, being proactive is part of owning a heritage building. But the peace of mind is worth the time. Marlene Campbell is the cultural programs assistant for Wyatt Heritage Properties in Summerside, P.E.I. The Wyatt Heritage Properties, a museum, archival and cultural complex, promote the value of arts and culture in Summerside. She is also the author of a church history book entitled Lot 16 United Church and its People.

places & Projects

Building Blocks By stephanie weidmann

While Calgary sets out to protect their heritage, they find themselves wondering how much of the past they have left to preserve.


Some of Calgary’s most beloved heritage buildings

n 2002, the St. Mary’s Girls School in Calgary, Alta. was demolished after great controversy and numerous efforts to save it. Darryl Cariou, who had seen a similar situation in Edmonton about 20 years prior to the St. Mary’s demolition, arrived in Calgary just after the building was tragically destroyed. According to him, at the time, Calgarians seemed to feel strongly about not having to go through this again and doing better in the future. As the new senior heritage planner for the City of Calgary, perhaps Cariou would be the hero who could make their desires to better preserve the city’s heritage a reality. But Calgary was, and still is, in the middle of an identity crisis. Little time is spent thinking about the city’s past. Rather, the future seems to be of top priority. Right now, it would be extremely difficult to throw a rock into the downtown core without hitting a new development. The Bow, a massive skyscraper in the process of being built to house the EnCana Corporation when it is complete in 2011, is the ultimate new development. And its designs illustrate exactly how modern the tower will be. The building itself will be a unique crescent shape with a diagonal and vertical steel frame, making it a distinguishable new element of Calgary’s skyline. Beautifully landscaped sky lobbies — called Sky Gardens — can be accessed through high-speed express elevators. To top it all off, the structure was built with Calgary’s climate in mind, so those working inside will be able to experience the outdoor weather each day.

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places & Projects

With all the hype The Bow is receiving, it may be easy to get excited about the future and forget about how exciting Calgary’s vibrant past is. The York Hotel, which is located across the street from The Bow, is being incorporated into the design of the new tower in order to preserve this important historic site built in 1929. But the way in which this preservation will take place is way out of the ordinary. The first part of the process, which has already been completed, involved numbering, removing and storing each brick from

“The York has been around longer than most Calgarians have been alive, yet few have been inside; fewer know its history.” the original facade of the York. In the second part of the process, an entirely new structure will be built and the old facade will be rebuilt overtop. A pedestrian arcade is the only alteration that will occur in an attempt to accommodate the foot traffic The Bow will bring. “Right from the beginning, the preservation of the York was a requirement,” says Cariou. “The city owned it when we entered into the negotiations, so it was never a question, but in a perfect world, you’d want to preserve the building as is.”

LEFT: Lougheed House; built in 1891 (was home to Sir James Lougheed and his family) RIGHT: Hudson’s Bay Company building; built in 1911

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am sitting with Cariou, who has his red hair pulled back in a ponytail, in the Siding Café on the second floor of Calgary’s funky Art Central. It’s modern and minimalist, making it an unlikely location for people to come and do what we’re doing: talking history. But a quick glance out the window is enough to explain Cariou’s choice of venue. Art Central resides on the corner of Centre Street and 7th Avenue S.W., the crossroads of some of Calgary’s most noted historic districts. Just south of us is Stephen Avenue, named after the Canadian Pacific Railway’s first president, Lord George Mount Stephen. Its distinct sandstone buildings were constructed in the wake of a massive fire in 1886, during the city’s sudden craze for fireproof buildings. To the west is the Hudson’s Bay Company building, which is still very similar to it’s original 1911 design. When it opened in 1913, the building, entirely faced with cream-glazed terra cotta, was the city’s largest at six stories tall. And to the east is the once grand, now decaying, York Hotel. Tens of thousands of people pass the York everyday without giving it much more than a passing glance. It has been around longer than most Calgarians have been alive, yet few

places & Projects

people have been inside, and fewer know its history. Over the past 77 years, the York has contained a bowling parlour, a café, several shops and a TV- broadcasting studio. Most recently, the hotel was reinvented to serve as low-cost housing units. And when the York first opened in the spring of 1930, it was widely hailed as Calgary’s best medium-priced hotel at only $5 per night, but today, the building is known more for its Edwardian commercial design and one-of-akind Art Deco terra cotta façade than for its comfortable accommodations. But now, almost nothing remains of the York’s original design. One of the hotel’s only remaining features is its façade, which has gone relatively untouched — until now, of course. In fact, none of the area’s historic sites have withstood the test of time completely intact. The majority of Stephen Avenue’s sandstone buildings have been restored and repurposed to make way for stores and hotels and an addition to the Hudson’s Bay Company building that attaches it to TD Square, an upscale shopping centre. Cariou explains that the real heritage value of the York Hotel lies in the stories. However, architecturally, it’s the hotel’s façade and corner-landmark status that make it important to Calgary’s heritage. Unfortunately, much of the interior architecture no longer exists. “There was some architectural significance to the interiors at one time — the lobbies had some kind of Spanish theme,” says Cariou. “They are long gone, but there is no documentation of what it was other than some mentions in newspaper articles.”


here are two types of history that heritage planners deal with, according to Cariou. The physical history, which involves examining buildings, artifacts, manuscripts and the like, is the first type. Then, there is what he calls the intan-

TOP: Historic buildings on Stephen Avenue BOTTOM: McDougal School; built in 1908

gibles — the social history of buildings and cities. David Plouffe, another heritage planner for the City of Calgary, explores the intangibles. He takes me on a quick tour of the city’s beltline in an abbreviated version of the walking tours offered by the Calgary Heritage Authority. We stop across the street from the Victoria Park School, a squat, but altogether charming sandstone building closely neighboured by a small wooden building, the Victoria Park Cottage School. The Victoria Park School has stood since 1903 and has since been used for many purposes. In 1916, soldiers Issue 1 Number 1 heritage home   15

places & Projects

from the Ogden Convalescent Home attended shorthand and typing classes there. During the flu epidemic of 1918, the building turned into a hospital for an overflow of patients coming from a nearby isolation hospital. In 1942, it was the Sugar Ration Board’s reservation office. The adjacent cottage school was transformed into a condominiums’ sales office and was later cut in half and moved to be incorporated into the new buildings in the neighbourhood. However, as sad as this may seem, condo developers worked hard to give the new buildings a warehouse brick feel, making the contrast between them and the old Victoria School less jarring. Both Plouffe and Carriou stress the importance of integrating heritage buildings into the community, repurposing them so they have uses and become a part of everyday life instead of standing empty. They admit, though, that Calgary has had a less-than-stellar record of preserving its buildings in the past‚ even those they could have easily repurposed. “Right now,” says Bob van Wegen, a member of the Calgary Heritage Initiative, “the East Village as a whole is a wasteland. That area, [which was recently renamed The Rivers,] is really going to be appreciated again when it becomes more vital.” He suggests density bonuses as incentives to developers to restore and maintain heritage buildings.

The fate of a city’s heritage buildings depends on the attitudes of its citizens.

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TOP RIGHT: Firehall #1; built in 1911, The Bow (in the background) is currently being built; to be complete in 2011 BOTTOM LEFT: Victoria Sandstone School; built in 1912


n Calgary, to be designated as a historic site, a building has to be an exemplary piece of architecture associated with an important historical figure and landmark of some kind, among other requisites. Over the past couple years, the city has been working on a new system called the Calgary Heritage Strategy, which was recently completed. The system has made it easier for heritage homes and commercial buildings to achieve official designation. Moreover, other historic sites, such as gardens and outdoor venues, are now able to obtain legal designation as well. Cariou, Plouffe and van Wegen all agree that the fate of a city’s heritage buildings depends on the attitude of its citizens. So, a new, small heritage committee has been established. “Citizens have to get involved. You have to have your voice heard somehow,” Plouffe says. “When I first came [to Calgary],” says Cariou, “my colleagues in Vancouver and my friends in Toronto would say, ‘Heritage planner in Calgary? What heritage?’ That was the big question.” Yet Calgary is a fairly young city and it’s important to remember that it is still building its legacy. “People have a tendency to compare their city to somewhere else. They say, ‘Oh, how come Winnipeg has saved all the buildings?’” says Cariou. The answer lies in the depressed state of their economy over the past 10 years or so. But Calgary has always had a history of booms and busts, explains Cariou, and in booms, buildings get replaced. “We are building on our heritage,” says Plouffe. “We aren’t as old as Quebec City or Halifax, but we have our story that we maintain and hold. And it’s important that we preserve these stories.... We need to be our own uniqueness. We need to be Calgary.”

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Profiles of success

WhenHarry : met silva: A window into the past, a doorway into the future


photography by jason hashimoto

During a life of creating magnificent windows, 82-year-old Harry Schell became a master craftsman and, to the delight of customers, passed that devotion on to the next generation of Schells, ensuring his family’s high standards will continue into a new era.

The Schell Lumber team consists of Harry Schell and his immediate and extended family members — a true family business.


mostly work upstairs,” explains Harry Schell as he takes me on a whirlwind tour around Schell Lumber. “If I go downstairs, I don’t know where things are.” Harry’s 82 years old, but he’s “still slugging lumber down,” according to his nephew, Ron. Slightly stooped and perpetually smiling, Harry is enthusiastic as he shows off the growing company. From the lumberyard to the garden centre, employees and customers alike know his name and greet him warmly. “This lady’s here to write lies about me!” he tells them. Upstairs, in Harry’s large workshop, the heat is stifling. Sweat runs down his face and the only breeze comes from the lazy circling of ceiling fans. Sunlight streams through the windows and highlights the ever-present swirling sawdust. This is where Harry does the work that heritage homeowners dream about. This is where Harry is at home. Issue 1 Number 1 heritage home   19

Profiles of success

In the wide open shop is the machinery he uses for sash and door repair. Many of them are over one hundred years old. They ran on steam before they were converted to electric. He demonstrates how one of the machines works. It’s an old sash sticker he’s using to make oak nosing. Moving with ease that comes with half a century of experience, he puts a piece of wood into place and turns on the machine. Sawdust and woodchips burst wildly out of one end as he carves the wood down to size. Harry holds up the finished product and smiles. “I left the hood off so you could see the chips fly.”

chance to buy them out. Wesley jumped at the opportunity. “He didn’t have anything but a lot of ambition,” says Harry’s younger brother, Percy. With financial backing from his neighbour, a wealthy farmer, he opened the Stouffville Planing Mill in 1922 — later re-named Schell Lumber. Times were tight during the Depression, but “things boomed after the war,” says Harry. “Everybody kept busy and this is what we’ve got today.” Harry went to high school in Stouffville until Grade 11. “I guess I snuck through,” he says. “And I said I wasn’t going back. I didn’t fail, but I wasn’t going back.” So his father gave him two options: Harry could

The man who did all the window work was on the brink of retirement — he taught Harry everything he’d need to know to take over the shop. He’s been there ever since. Harry is the patriarch of Schell Lumber. The company has been in his family since 1922 and Harry ran it for decades before passing ownership to his nephew. He still works in his attic workshop five days a week — the same way he always has, with no plans to change. More than anything, he takes pride in his family and his craft — above the store he can look after both.


he building that houses Schell Lumber is a heritage site itself. It used to be the Stouffville Mill, where farmers would bring their rough lumber to be processed. It was also where doors, moulding, windows and sashes were made for homes. Ownership of the mill changed hands several times and by the early 1900s it was part of the Canada Bee and Honey Supply, which made beehive boxes. Harry’s father, Wesley, went to work for Canada Bee and Honey in 1919. Wesley’s father had recently died and he needed to help his mother make ends meet. After several years, the company opened another store in Aurora and left Wesley in charge of the Stouffville site. He began to get more and more requests from farmers for lumber to repair their carts. Wesley asked the company for lumber to sell and they responded by offering him the

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either work for him in the store, or go to technical school. He chose school and spent two years at the Danforth Technical in Toronto where he learned woodworking. “I like to make things,” says Harry. “My hands have been good to me.” After finishing school in 1946, Harry came back to his father’s store to start working full-time. His first job was driving the truck. “Just brute strength and awkwardness is all you need to drive a truck around here.” He did that for a few years before apprenticing in the workshop. The man who did all the window work was on the brink of retirement — he taught Harry everything he’d need to know to take over the shop. He’s been there ever since, watching the business expand from six employees to nearly 45.


oday the store is staffed by three generations of Schells. Harry’s nephew, Ron Schell, has taken over as owner and manager of Schell Lumber. Harry’s son, Steve, takes care of the building supply end of the business and supervises the lumberyard. Harry’s brother, Percy, looks after the store’s books. Grandchildren work in the lumberyard and the hardware store. Harry’s son-in-law, Richard Kennedy, purchased a lumber business in

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You’d never guess it, but Harry can be very stubborn, according to his family members. But, he’s also very fair.

Sutton and named it Schell Lumber. The Schells are raised knowing they have a place in the family business, which is how Harry likes it. “The work and the family is his life,” says Steve.

Amid the flying sawdust, he found the machine that made his original piece of moulding in 1851 and Harry. “I went to his place and I fell over,” remembers Connel. “I took him a piece of the old

“He is Harry and it’s Harry’s way. I’ve had times where I’ve had to put my foot down and he puts his right on top of mine!”


few years back Nigel Connel added an extension to his 1851 Classic Revival home. He wanted some extra room, but it was important the new section of the house was in harmony with the old. When he was looking to have some moulding replicated his neighbour recommended Harry Schell to him. Connel took his advice and found himself climbing the narrow, well-worn steps into Harry’s attic workshop.

moulding and he created a copy for me. Everything is exactly the same.” Because of his reputation, Harry gets to pick and choose which projects he takes on. “Harry doesn’t have to prove himself, he has proven himself,” says Robert Bruce, a heritage contractor and high school friend of Harry’s. People accommodate Harry. They have to. “Harry is a very nice, gentle individual, but he does things his way,” says Connel. “He has 82 Issue 1 Number 1 heritage home   21

Profiles of success

years of tenure on this earth and he does things in his own time.” Newer clients turn to Ron to ask Harry to move faster, something Ron refuses to do. “I don’t want to go down those steps head first, which is how I will if I ask him to hurry up.” Most of Harry’s family members mention his stubbornness, if you ask them. “He is Harry and it’s Harry’s way,” says Ron. “I’ve had times where I’ve had to put my foot down, and he puts his right on top of mine.”


arry’s son, Steve, describes him as being firm and fair. One story sticks out in Steve’s mind from childhood. On a busy day in the store, a man was following his father around. The man eventually accused Harry of ignoring him because he was prejudiced against his ethnicity. Steve remembers that Harry whipped around and said he “didn’t care if he was black, pink, purple, yellow or whatever. He would serve him when it was his turn.” And that was it. The man has since become a lifelong customer.

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Clients worry about what will happen when Harry is gone. Although he’s still active for his age, at 82, he’s no spring chicken. But his father worked until he died, and Harry doesn’t intend to slow down anytime soon. He and his wife just took a river cruise to Russia, but was just a vacation. “I’m not going to retire,” says Harry. “I’ve got my wife. She doesn’t want me at home — we’d fight.”


teve hopes that his son, Jeremy, will take over where his grandfather left off. Jeremy Schell recently completed his studies in carpentry at Conestoga College in Kitchener-Waterloo. He spent half a semester in Grade 12 apprenticing under Harry, learning how to be exact and meticulous in his work. He is now back in Stouffville working with his grandfather part-time. “I’ve always been interested in it,” says Jeremy. “I’d like to stay near it.” Jeremy loves the work and aims to inherit his grandfather’s workshop one day, continuing the Schell family tradition. “It means everything.”

A close-up of some items displayed in Harry’s workshop

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LEFT: Gustav Stickley Morris Chair TOP RIGHT: Gustav Stickley 20” Rare Wrought Iron Andirons

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profile of success

StickleySituations By Kerry lange

Gustav Stickley experienced many hardships during the course of his life when it came to his career, but overcoming these obstacles helped bring Stickley Furniture to where it is today.


ustav Stickley. Perhaps the name doesn’t sound familiar. But you know Gustav Stickley. You’ve probably brushed past him many times. He winks through contemporary architecture. He’s the naked grain and natural shapes of Danish furniture; the chrome, tubular-framed chairs; the long, low-slung coffee tables; the minimalist design; the rectilinear patterns in modern furniture and buildings. Stickley has helped shape what our furniture looks like today. Gustave Stoeckel (later Americanized to “Stickley”) was born in Wisconsin to an immigrant German family and was raised there, in the midst of Wisconsin’s large German population. Growing up there, he learned hard work, penury and family hardship. It was his father, Leopold, a stonemason himself, who introduced Stickley to his craft. By the age of 12, Stickley was skilled enough to earn journeymen’s wages. But he hated the job. According to a book called Gustav Stickley by David Cathers, Stickley wrote:


“It was heavy and tedious labor, much too hard for a boy of my age, and being put to it so early gave me an intense dislike for it. Had I been older and stronger, I might not have realized so keenly its disagreeable features, but as it was, the feeling of the lime and the grinding of the trowel over stone and mortar was especially repugnant to me, and the toil itself meant the utmost physical strain and fatigue.”

Perhaps Stickley’s father shared his dislike for stonemasonry. Deep-seated unhappiness and alcohol caused Leopold to be unreliable, and young Stickley became the main family provider. Consequently, it was difficult and impractical for Stickley to get an education beyond the eighth grade. With little school-fed knowledge, he was forced to look for other ways to fuel his mind. He discovered Ralph Waldo Emerson, a writer and poet; John Ruskin, writer, architect and social thinker; and William Morris, architect, furniture designer, writer and socialist. These famous men had an enormous influence on Stickley and their impact would later fire his imagination to its brightest.

Issue 1 Number 1 heritage home   25

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Gustav Stickley Large Copper Circular Wall Plaque

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In the early 1870s, depression and alcoholism drove Leopold to leave his family. But, his father’s abandonment may have been a blessing in disguise. Stickley, whose youth was filled with hardships and hard work, was now free of the trade he hated so much. By 1875 Barbara, Stickley’s mother, moved the fatherless family to Laynesboro, Pa. to live with her brother, Jacob Schlaeger. Schlaeger owned a small furniture factory in Brandt, and it was there that Gustav Stickley first worked seriously with furniture and wood. He spent 1875 to 1883 absorbing millwork, manufacturing, management and business skills. During this time, he became a manager at his uncle’s company — the promotion came about because it was evident that Stickley had the ability to control a factory that manufactured 96,000 chairs a year. Nepotism did not play a role in Stickley obtaining a higher position within the company.

Stickley took another pivotal step in 1883 when he went into business with his brothers, Albert and Charles. A year later, they began to retail their furniture. But, in 1888, Stickley left his brothers. The phrase “does not play well with others” may come to mind when analyzing Stickley’s working life. He broke with many partners during his career. Perhaps his desire to work independently caused problems in the workplace. Whatever the reason, after leaving his brothers, he partnered up with a man named Elgin A. Simmons and in 1890, the Stickley and Simmons Company opened an office in Auburn, N.Y. By 1895, the company had a new factory near Syracuse in Eastwood, N. Y. Together, they produced popular colonial revival pieces, and their furniture received run-of-the-mill, machine-made “gingerbreading.” Their furniture was generally well-received at this point, but it failed to stand out over other similar furniture. Nonetheless, Stickley and his partner knew their market and their business. The company grew and gained important contracts, eventually raising its profile above the manufacturing milieu. Still, something bubbled beneath the surface. Stickley resented the fact that his pieces were more like imitations of other furniture, rather than original work of his own. Consequently, in 1895, and again in 1896, he travelled to Europe and, for the first time, saw French furniture in their proper surroundings. This was inspiring and brought about new ideas. There, he also saw that the writings of Ruskin and Morris were now about furniture, buildings, art and communities. In other words, they were largely about Arts and Crafts. This helped him identify what “honest” and “pure” craftspeople created with their minds Craftsman-Auctions.com

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and hands. Traditions were changing and new styles were being developed to correspond with the times. During and after these visits, Stickley contemplated developing his own, unique American style. He wondered what American “honesty,” “purity,” “simplicity” and beauty looked like. He was inspired by Shaker furniture, a distinct style of furniture that was developed by a religious group called The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing. He was also influenced by prairie and frontier homes, as well as Californian architecture and American native art. Moreover, he was very aware of the movement toward the “simple life.” In 1898, Stickley forced Simmons out of the company. Not long afterward, he formed the Gustav Stickley Company. Stickley’s imagination percolated. He spent years making prototypes. In 1900, he announced the completion of his line of new furniture that would be displayed at the Grand Rapids exhibition that July. To Stickley, creating furniture wasn’t just a way to make money; his new furniture was about art and purpose. He crafted each component with function and placement in mind. Thick, simple lines made Stickley’s pieces look like they were from the middle ages — and could last hundreds of years longer. A book titled The Forgotten Rebel: Gustac Stickley and His Craftsman Mission Furniture by John Crosby Freeman, cites Stickley as writing:

Stickley renamed his company United Crafts and pushed Arts and Crafts forward. Ruskin, one of Stickley’s heroes, believed that things should be made by hand — true craftsmanship didn’t require the use of machinery. But Stickley, familiar with woodworking machinery, couldn’t bring himself to work in accordance to Ruskin’s theories. Where the use of machines went wrong, Stickley felt, was in the thoughtless reproduction of historical pieces. But, people could be artisans using machines, and they could even achieve fulfillment and joy working with them. In 1901, he saw the need to found his own magazine, The Craftsman. Stickley dedicated the premier issue to William Morris, father of the English Arts and Crafts movement. The Craftsman featured his furniture, as well as other items that complemented his work. Stickley was the editor of The Craftsman, but he was not a proficient writer. With his limited education, Stickley had little opportunity to develop his writing

TOP RIGHT: Gustav Stickley Rare Tea Table BOTTOM LEFT: Gustav Stickley Eight-Leg Sideboard



which the first is the straightforward provision for practical need. So … I turned all my attention to making plain furniture … of strength, durability, and comfort...”.

“The vital quality of primitiveness does not imply crudeness … the primitive form of construction is the form that would naturally suggest itself to a workman as embodying the main essentials of a piece of furniture, of Issue 1 Number 1 heritage home   27

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Gustav Stickley Rare Bride’s Chest


ft ArtsnCra

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skills. Letters he wrote to family members later on in his life illustrate this weakness. However, when The Craftsman was first published, Irene Sargent ghostwrote for Stickley. In later years, Mary Fanton Roberts took on the task of bringing Stickley’s words to life. In 1903, Stickley was joined by architect Harvey Ellis, who introduced lighter components and lines to Stickley’s furniture, along with features more common to Art Nouveau and English Arts and Crafts designs. But instead of using the whiplash curves of Art Nouveau, or acting as blatant decoration, as in English Arts and Crafts, Ellis’s designs used inlaid material to reduce monotony and draw the eye to structural elements. Furthermore, when Ellis was around, his Craftsman covers and illustrations were among the best the magazine had seen. Ellis pulled The Craftsman and Stickley’s designs away from Medievalism and moved them more toward the elegant, but prosaically simple, “Standard Stickley.” Ellis died in 1904 after working with Stickley for only 10 months, but his lighter furniture lines and components stayed with Stickley. Shortly after Ellis’s death, Stickley travelled to California and connected with many Arts and Crafts followers. As a result, he wrote about creating a utopian Arts and Crafts community in the West. Although nothing came of the western movement, it did lead to his New Jersey project, The Craftsman Farms. At The Craftsman Farms, Stickley practiced his Arts and Crafts philosophy — and spent a good deal of money. At first, his family lived in the building that was originally supposed to be the clubhouse. He hired people to look after the farm and enjoyed working it himself before he took the morning train to work. This, however, only lasted until 1916, as the business was unable

to thrive after his Craftsman enterprise collapsed. He never ended up completing the farm due to lack of money. But earlier on, in 1913, Stickley leased a 13-storey building he called the Craftsman Building, which brought him to the hefty sum of $1,500,000 over five years. Stickley viewed the Craftsman Building as the culmination of his philosophy. His products were thoughtfully designed and manufactured. He wanted to surround others with what he saw as honest and ethical — the more people reached, the better. The Craftsman Building had everything anyone needed to build a home. You could meet with an architect, browse through building materials, shop for furniture, look through accessories, or have a meal all on separate floors. Looking back, it’s easy to see how Stickley’s concept could have worked. Today, successful franchises like Home Depot and Rona use the concept of having one store for all home purposes. But as profitable as Stickley’s furniture business was, it couldn’t support the Craftsman Building. In 1914, when the First World War began, credit tightened, as did pocketbooks. Combined with changing tastes and the huge financial burden of his building, Stickley’s fortunes shrank. He was forced into bankruptcy in 1917 and had to sell his beloved Craftsman Farms shortly thereafter. A year earlier, in an attempt to stay in business, Stickley and his brothers established Stickley Associated Cabinetmakers. Stickly then worked in other similar fields like toy manufacturing, consulting and furniture finishing until his death in 1942. Today, because of Stickley’s hard work and determination, L. & J.G. Stickley in Manlius, N.Y. (the only surviving company that came of Stickley Associated Cabinetmakers) continues to manufacture and sell high-quality Arts and Crafts furniture. Stickley changed the way we live — and he left his fingerprints on steel-framed chairs with leather-strung backs and seats for us to remember him.

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A home is more than bricks and mortar. Our readers understand that and, until now, they haven’t had a magazine that understands it too.

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Brushing up By Diane Switzer and Donald Luxton

The Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s True Colours paint program can assist you in choosing the right colours for your historic home. Here’s how.

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ne of the most baffling questions heritage homeowners face today is how to choose an appropriate colour scheme for the home’s exterior. And until recently, there weren’t many places to turn to for help when it came to finding your home’s true historical colours. Many homeowners make decisions about colour they later regret. Some homes have been given “ho-hum” or banal appearances through overly cautious restoration approaches. Others look overwhelmingly garish because too many colours are used. Paint colours for homes have changed over time — like they have in the fashion and architecture industries — due to changes in style and ever-advancing technology. When your home was built, there was a range of colours that suited it. If it had been built 20 years later, an entirely different colour scheme might have seemed appropriate. So, when choosing colours for your heritage home’s exterior, what can you do to avoid making potentially embarrassing mistakes?

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1. Become familiar with your as copycat colour schemes — beyond historical society. In 1999, the individual paint projects.

TOP LEFT: 750 Princess Avenue, Vancouver; Before using True Colours paint program (After photograph on page 30; Palette colour: Hastings Red, #30) RIGHT: Historical True Colours palette BOTTOM LEFT: Benjamin Moore’s Historical True Colours brochure, cover page

Vancouver Heritage Foundation was brainstorming ideas for its inaugural grant program. Given the city’s large stock of wood-frame houses and the volume of inquiries about appropriate historic colours, they decided that an exterior paint program would be an effective way to lend a hand to heritage homeowners. Today, the True Colours program assists heritage building owners in choosing the most suitable and authentic colours for their homes. Benjamin Moore & Co., the program’s corporate sponsor, supplies the paint. Since the program’s inception, not only has it won provincial and civic heritage awards, but it has also inspired home maintenance and restoration — as well

2. Listen to your home. Archival images may help you restore porches and finials, but black-and-white photography won’t tell you much about paint colours. In order to create the True Colours program, laboratory workers at Benjamin Moore took samples of homes’ original paints by chipping away more recent layers to get to the first coat. Then, by analyzing the sample under a microscope to determine what the colours actually looked like when the paint was still fresh, perhaps 100 to 150 years ago, they developed a beautiful line of historical paint colours. Strathcona Mahogany, Kitsilano Gold, Pendrell Issue 1 Number 1 heritage home   31

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After Green and Point Grey are four of over 30 colours (named after local streets and neighbourhoods) that make up the palette of Benjamin Moore’s brochure, Historical Vancouver True Colours.

3. Learn about placement. Another important aspect of the research conducted by Benjamin Moore was determining where to place colours on individual architectural elements. The “painted ladies” approach, in which three or more colours are used to draw attention to architectural details on Victorian and Edwardian buildings and houses, can help heritage homeowners determine how many colours they should use and where each colour should be placed. In general, the body of the house or building is painted one colour, the trim is painted a second colour and the window sashes are painted a third. Also, there are logical spots on the building’s exterior where the paint colours should begin and end. Following the trim is often the simplest way to know where those spots are. 32  heritage home heritagehome.ca

4. Take risks and be confident. Historic paint

was oil-based — it had a high-gloss finish — so don’t be afraid to go for a more glossy look. It’s one of the many tactics you can use to make your home stand out. The True Colours program’s findings were fascinating because some of them contradicted people’s expectations. For example, white paint, which is sometimes used on heritage homes nowadays, was never seen in Vancouver during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Also, window sashes were almost always painted a dark colour (usually black), and today, they are more commonly painted in much lighter shades. Discoveries like these make finding your home’s true colours an exciting and exhilarating task.


TOP: 2627 Dundas Street, Vancouver; After using True Colours paint program; Palette colour: Vancouver Green, #20 BOTTOM RIGHT: 2627 Dundas Street, Vancouver; Before using True Colours paint program



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A home is more than bricks and mortar. Our readers understand that and, until now, they haven’t had a magazine that understands it too.

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