Last year, Century Homes Calgary received a Governor General’s Award for Heritage Advocacy. The non-profit group was able to muster up enthusiasm in over 500 proud owners of homes that were over 100 years old to find out who lived in their house and what happened there. These houses didn’t need to be designated, or architecturally significant or owned by anyone famous, they just needed to be old, and have owners with the wherewithal to hit the archives and uncover their stories. What they learned then went up on a home-made yard signs that were displayed during a self-guided tour for Historical Calgary Week last summer.
Jennifer Clay (whose 12-year-old daughter Kristen Schulz went to Ottawa to receive a Young Citizen’s Award for making a video about the heritage of her North Vancouver home) loved this project and wanted to do something for Heritage Week.
“I am sure that we don’t have the inventory of such houses on the North Shore to get 500 participants, but wouldn’t it be great if we could put on a workshop teaching people how to research the history of their home, provided them with some temporary signage and then designate a week or two when the signs could be on display?” she said. “Then perhaps we could convert their research into more permanent signage similar to what the DNV and CNV already have in front of some designated heritage homes.”
Jennifer kicks off the first part of her plan next Saturday with a workshop at the Community History Centre in the old Lynn Valley School on Mountain Highway. She’ll be giving a presentation on some of the records – both offline and online that’s out there to help in your search, and staff have promised a behind-the-scenes tour and personalized help with research.
I’ll be there as well, talking about Alvo von Alvensleben’s 1912 hunting lodge as an example of a local house with an amazing history and how old photographs and newspaper clippings, city directories and stories from past home owners gave it a life that goes way beyond its bricks and mortar—or in this case its shingles and tacks.
For more information see BC Heritage Week. The District of North Vancouver has yet to put its heritage register online, but I notice that the City of North Vancouver has its heritage register online and it gives a great context for heritage houses in the region.
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