This week is Heritage Week in Ontario, and there are a number of programs celebrating our local, provincial and national heritage. In 1985, the Province of Ontario identified the third week of February as Heritage Week as a way “to stimulate awareness of heritage resources and heritage-related issues within their communities, and to honour the organizations and volunteers who have worked to protect Ontario’s irreplaceable heritage resources.” The program is coordinated by the Ontario Heritage Trust:
Many of the OHT programs connect with Black History Month in Canada, which was proclaimed in Ontario in 1979, formally adopted in 1993, and officially recognized in Canada in 1995. Each February there are many programs that connect with Black History Month. Here are a few places to explore:
Tying in with the theme of Heritage Week, the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario has identified today (Wednesday, February 17) as Heritage Advocacy Day – a day where the ACO coordinates meetings between people who care about heritage preservation and MPPs representing ridings across Ontario. The intent of Heritage Advocacy Day is to bridge the gap between local heritage issues and Provincial policy-makers, while championing a “save and renew” approach and highlighting the link between heritage conservation and economic development:
Over our long history, Heritage Mississauga has been involved in the preservation movement here at home, supporting the efforts of the City of Mississauga’s Heritage Advisory Committee and the City’s Heritage Planning Department.
Protection of physical property falls to Municipal Council, which is advised on heritage matters by Heritage Planning staff and the citizen representatives of the Heritage Advisory Committee. The Ontario Heritage Act provides the criteria for determining whether or not a property merits heritage designation. Municipal Council makes the decision on designations, as well as alterations to heritage resources, in consultation with the City’s Heritage Advisory Committee. Heritage Planning staff also maintain the City of Mississauga’s Heritage Register, and oversee permits and applications on heritage properties.
The City of Mississauga currently has two Heritage Conservation Districts (Meadowvale Village HCD and Old Port Credit HCD), as well as many Designated and Listed heritage properties and Cultural Landscapes:
In support of heritage preservation and the efforts of Heritage Planning staff over the years, Heritage Mississauga has helped to identify, research and document our city’s heritage properties, as well as respond to residents or their representatives who are interested in the history of a home, property or area. Through land registry research, area histories, genealogy searches, newspaper references, historic and aerial photography, and so much more, we are able to assist in the documentation of a property’s history. We are also able to liaison with our colleagues in other informational repositories, such as at the Region of Peel Archives at PAMA and with our local historical societies. No one property history search is identical, and each property offers a tantalizing glimpse into the history of our city.
One question we hear a lot is why – as in, why do we concern ourselves with preservation at all?
Our city is comprised of many layers: historic villages, significant landscapes, vibrant and diverse cultures, all located within a modern urban setting. Mississauga is Canada’s 6th largest city with over 700,000 residents, but it is a young city whose cultural identity continues to unfold. We celebrate the “Mississauga” story in a wide variety of ways: natural areas, parks and trails, such as Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens, the Credit River, Culham Trail, Erindale Park, Kariya Park, Rattray Marsh, Riverwood, the Waterfront Trail, and so much more, all contribute to the uniqueness of Mississauga.
Heritage houses, adaptively repurposed structures, interpretive plaques, place names, and other iconic and vernacular vestiges of our past all provide a distinctive character to our city. And they help to reinforce a sense of place, and perhaps more importantly, an interest in and pride for that place. Likewise, our built heritage sites like the QEW Credit River bridge, downtown Streetsville, historic buildings like the Glenerin Inn and Clarke Memorial Hall, and our many Designated and Listed private heritage homes all shed light on Mississauga’s formative years, and continue to help shape our City’s identity. Preserved structures help reinforce the vibrancy of the place, and our collective love for our city, and that is something to celebrate!