Heritage Advisory Committee: The Road Ahead

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by Michael Whittaker

North Grenville’s heritage may be measured from the end of the last ice age until today. Many people measure local history from the arrival of the first settlers of European descent and see heritage expressed in architecture.

The Municipal Council’s Heritage Advisory Committee has a broader perspective mandated by the province. The Committee advises Council on heritage matters involving material culture, architectural, historical, and natural heritage.

To meet Council’s requests and perceived heritage priorities, a work plan has been drafted by the Committee. This plan may be considered an evergreen document, to be updated as the Committee continues to focus on conservation or restoration initiatives, education, or heritage designation of the built or natural environment.

As previously reported, the Committee has recommended Council proceed with the historical rehabilitation of Maplewood Hall in Oxford Mills, is completing the architectural descriptions of many of the 17 Kemptville Campus buildings for possible heritage designation, and created a sub-committee drafting public criteria for the annual Heritage Awards. The Committee is also encouraged by efforts to secure external funding for the rehabilitation of the Kemptville Court House, which began life as a Town Hall and fire hall ca.1874.

The Committee’s work plan contains 18 items, some sharing connections, as can be expected in a subject as inclusive as heritage. The following is the author’s understanding of the work plan, and is not intended to present the view of the Committee.

The future use of heritage buildings includes the previously mentioned Court House, which involves a complete assessment of the building, and the old Township Hall in Oxford Mills. Some tasks generate further initiatives. Preparation of a heritage and archaeological inventory could entail cultural heritage landscape designations, heritage conservation districts, and designations of natural heritage. A definition of heritage tourism for North Grenville, and as the Municipality related to the legacy of the Rideau Canal and Leeds Grenville may have outcomes; perhaps updating walking tours requiring hardcopy and digital revisions.

As aspects of our heritage are better understood, interested parties may establish public outreach and education projects: a heritage fair, along the lines of a school science fair or other seasonal events; a heritage symposium; or other informative activities, which showcase our cultural and natural heritage. Public awareness and availability of local genealogical records and resources has implications for the Municipality, the North Grenville Public Library, and the North Grenville Historical Society.

Investigation of our pre-contact history is bound to reveal more about trade routes and portages traversing North Grenville, and reveal early First Nation contacts with the French and English venturing into the region. This touches on the Kemptville Campus. The Committee is seeking clarification from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs regarding archaeological sites mentioned in a ministerial document from the late 1970s.

Much work is ahead for the Heritage Advisory Committee, which meets the third Tuesday of the month from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM at the North Grenville Municipal Centre. These meetings are open to the public, but not convenient to all. For more information, follow the links from northgrenville.ca/govern/governance/committees-and-boards/. Do not hesitate to contact a member.

The Committee resources are primarily provided by the Ontario Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism, and Culture Industries, and the Municipality of North Grenville. More information sources rest with other provincial ministries, federal departments such as Parks Canada and Canadian Heritage, and local organizations.

The North Grenville Official Plan contains Heritage Policies. Additionally, the Municipality has the Guide for the Evaluation of Properties of Heritage Interest or Value.

Committee members have links with the Burritt’s Rapids Community Association, Oxford Mills Community Association, North Grenville Historical Society, Ferguson Forest Centre, and Rideau Valley Archaeological Society. Their backgrounds include historical research and writing, experience in museums, careers in federal agencies and departments, heritage interpretation and event organizing, horticulture, software design, and more.

North Grenville Heritage Advisory Committee

Cam Stevenson – Chair
Inge van Gemeren – Vice Chair
Patricia Habberjam
Dagmar McCord
Kenneth Mews
Neil Whyte
Michael Whittaker
Council Members: John Barclay and Nancy Peckford.

The Committee, appointed by Council, can have a minimum of four and a maximum of nine volunteer members and up to two member of Council, all of who have voting rights. The Chairperson is a volunteer member selected by the Committee members. A staff person(s) from Planning & Development may also attend meetings as a liaison(s) to the Municipality.

When considering the appointment of Committee members, Council considered the following:
a) influential decision makers (current and retired) from various sectors;
b) individual members willing to take on specific responsibilities for specific areas of the program;
c) the individual’s qualifications and commitment as they relate to the Council’s adopted programs/policies; and
d) availability of members to participate in the programs/policies and attend Committee meetings.

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