Friday, 28 August 2015

Sparks to Fly at Parkwood

Parkwood received a fund-matching grant from the National Cost-sharing Program for National Historic Sites, to assist with the replacement of the c. 1917 main electrical panel. This support is also related to 2017 (our 100th birthday and Canada’s 150th), and we look forward to starting the next 100 years in the best shape possible.

An electrical panel is far less beautiful or dramatic than a greenhouse restoration, previously announced with a fund matching grant investment from the federal government—but it will ensure reliable electrical service for years to come as well as safer conditions for staff and electricians. We should mention that the c. 1917 electrical panel is a popular feature of basement tours, and some would argue that it is indeed an extraordinary and beautiful thing.
It is also a highlight of the firefighter orientation Parkwood does as part of our disaster preparedness training program with the City of Oshawa Fire Services, annually.

Replacement plans will allow the original panel to be abandoned in place, with power channeled through a new panel nearby. Our preference is always to retain original elements for their interpretive value and rarity.

Watch for additional blogging material as we upgrade our electrical systems and the work our heritage architects, electrical advisors, Curator and Executive Director have in coming weeks as we debate and figure out what is preserved and maintained moving forward.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Special Parkwood Announcement August 5, 2015 – Parkwood Greenhouses Receive a Federal Helping Hand

August 5, 2015 – Parkwood Greenhouses Receive a Federal Helping Hand


Nancy Shaw, President of The Parkwood Foundation, announced today the receipt of a federal grant to assist in restoration of the Parkwood greenhouse complex, of up to $ 502,936.   The grant is provided by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario under the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program and is a matching-fund program.   Ms. Shaw noted:  “This grant will provide up to 50% funding for the complete restoration of Parkwood’s greenhouse complex, or glass gardens - to borrow an early 20th century term.  In fact our overall project is called: Saving Glass Gardens – A 2017 Celebration.”


Parkwood Executive Director Brian Malcolm added:  “This is just the greatest news for The Parkwood Foundation, as we contemplate the celebration in 2017 of Canada’s 150th birthday along with the 100th birthday of this national built-heritage treasure.   The Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program and its theme - Giving Back to Canada - is an amazing fit with Sam McLaughlin’s story as an automotive pioneer and philanthropist, and it’s sure to be a point of inspiration for all Canadians. 


Our Foundation is most grateful to the federal government for making this         re-investment in Canada’s historic resources, and providing a tremendous boost to the efforts of Parkwood staff and volunteers in heritage stewardship.  We also thank Oshawa MP Colin Carrie for championing the cause.” 

Federal funding assistance will preserve an important part of the McLaughlin story and ensure further educational benefits for generations to come.   The availability of fund-matching dollars is an invaluable support for fundraising, providing donors an opportunity to double the impact of their gifts and maximize on the amount of work that will be accomplished.


About Greenhouse Restoration

The Greenhouse complex at Parkwood is at serious risk of continued deterioration and even complete loss.   Timely intervention is required, which fortunately will be made possible by this Federal grant support, and the fund–matching benefit.

Parkwood previously completed a greenhouse restoration pilot project in 2013/2014 on one of the greenhouses.   This followed a formal conservation study/report, and it helped confirm the initial findings and the restoration requirements laid out in the report.   These lessons will then be applied across the five greenhouses, or glass gardens still awaiting attention.   The results of the completed pilot project are stunning, and they provide inspiration for the remainder of the greenhouse restoration work to come.   

As always, Parkwood works with recognized heritage specialists and undertakes projects in accordance with the Standards and Guidelines for Historic Places in Canada.



Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Special Parkwood Announcement: Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Special Guest helps Launch Special Program

Parkwood was pleased to welcome Dame Fiona Woolf DBE Aug 4, 2015, to take part in the launch of a special project of Parkwood, entitled Margaret’s Message.   The project is a two-year textiles conservation program that will culminate in 2017 – Parkwood’s 100th anniversary year and Canada’s 150th.  The project will engage students of Sir Sanford Fleming College, in an extended learning and lab experience in conservation.

London, England resident Dame Fiona served as the Lord Mayor of London in 2013/2014, as the 686th Lord Mayor and only the second woman to hold the role since 1189.  Last month she was named a Dame Commander of the British Empire by HRH Queen Elizabeth II.  Her visit to Oshawa provided the perfect time to announce Parkwood’s special project which is named for her mother, the late Margaret Swain.

Joining in the announcement were Dame Fiona’s brother Dr. Richard Swain and wife Sharon Swain (a Past President and Honorary Director of The Parkwood Foundation), Parkwood President Nancy Shaw,  and representing Sir Sandford Fleming College:  Gayle McIntyre

About Margaret’s Message

Margaret Swain was a renowned Edinburgh-based textiles expert, and one of the earliest champions for preserving Parkwood as a museum and historic site.   As we look towards Parkwood’s 100th anniversary in 2017 (and Canada’s 150th), we salute those like Margaret who urged its protection.  In visits to Parkwood over many years, and drawing on her experience with international museums and collections, she impressed upon us that the completeness of the estate and the wealth of original furnishings, art and archives were rare and precious things in Canada.  She helped us to see their opportunities for study, how they could be continually mined for educational and artistic value.  Margaret also championed the intrinsic value of each, whether modest or magnificent, their collective impact, and the imperative of their preservation. 

Margaret’s Message is our inspirational title therefore for this project, particularly fitting as it engages post-secondary conservation/museums studies students in meaningful learning experiences toward successful career paths and the next generation of heritage stewards.

About Textiles Conservation & Parkwood

Historic textiles are resources most vulnerable to the effects of time and exposure to visible and ultraviolet light rays, dust and even human contact.  The master bedroom suite at Parkwood presents a varied catalogue of textiles - silk draperies & valances, silk upholsteries, lace coverlets and bed coverings, lampshades, and carpets.   It is also a fantastic learning opportunity about textiles conservation and the materials and techniques needed for cleaning, stabilization, repair and/or restoration.   This room will provide a learning lab over the next two years.

Visitors to Parkwood will have an opportunity to witness the project in progress on guided mansion tours and through periodic presentations, workshops and other programs.

About Sir Sandford Fleming

The Museum Management and Curatorship Program is an intensive, fast-paced, immersion experience that provides applied training for careers in the museum, gallery or heritage sectors.

Visit for more information about the program.