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Heritage Canada

Heritage Canada was established in 1973 and it worked really hard to fulfil its mandate " . . . to preserve and encourage the preservation of Canada's heritage structures and sites". It had its ups and downs as most new organizations have, but it has accomplished much. It's still producing a good magazine, it is a good lobby group and it has had some very strong innovative programs.

The first board like most "first" boards was "ministerial" in its causes. Hartland MacDougal was Chair, with Peirre Berton as his Vice. And as it evolved each province had good people. Alan Duffus from Halifax, Shannie Duff from St. John's, Phyllis Lambert from Quebec etc. When Hartland retired Pierre took over. One of his main goals was to create a mid-winter holiday called Heritage Day and it should still be an important goal.

Bob Phillips was the first executive director and Jacques Dalibard was the second. They were different. Bob was a bureaucrat and "loved" Canadian history. Jacques was from France and a graduate of Columbia University's school of Historic Renovation. In his mind the people were less important, the professionalism of the mandate was the thing. History will write how those two men and their directions mattered in our lives. Since them we have Brian Anthony who came form, well, among other places, Confederation Centre of the Arts, but is a very good bureaucrat and knows his way around the Ottawa scene and is successfully bring to the organization another whole dimension.

What we, who began on the edges of the thing, got out of our Heritage Canada membership was a linking together of people with common beliefs. I still have friends in St. John's, Halifax, St. Andrew's , Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Regina, Vancouver and Victoria because of our early meetings with, or because of, Heritage Canada.

Charlottetown has benefited greatly from those relationships. What we learned was that all of use were in the same boat; caring deeply for our communities and up against extraordinary and rapid change. We were naive, inexperienced, but we felt we were right. We had wonderful support. In those days we felt as emotional about the main street of St. Andrew's, as the Murray Premises in Saint John's or Brunswich Street in the Halifax. We cheered the saving of a little log house in the Fredericton's downtown as much as we did Robert Service's cabin in Dawson City or the Papineau Chapel in Quebec or the Richman House in Annapolis Royal.

And THEY cheered when we successfully acquired and refurbished The Heartz O'Halloran Houses on Great George Street and the Blanchard house on Sydney Street. Heritage Canada made a difference.

Later they took on another approach and they focused on The Mainstreet Programs and we once again with the help of a Heritage Canada trained person, Tom Ward and Peter Hyndman, a Charlottetown architect who worked for HC, we benefitted from their professional approach to heritage preservation.

Today Heritage Canada is working hard on legislation and developing governmental understanding of the economic and emotional importance of saving old buildings and mainstreets.

Sometime in the middle of all this Parks Canada, a very sympathetic partner, got involved in a name change and out of that came the Department of Canadian Heritage, more generally identified a Canadian Heritage. Just simply TOO close.

Although many years have passed, I am amazed how people in positions of importance- government and media people - still get Heritage Canada and Canadian Heritage mixed up. I don't blame them, but I still get furious. Its Canadian Heritage's fault for taking that name so many years after Heritage Canada had been founded. Why can't we correct this. It's embarrassing.

Written Wednesday, March 27, 2002 at 08:26 PM

(c) 2000 by Catherine Hennessey. Questions or comments? Email me@catherinehennessey.com

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