Thursday, 10 April 2014

Sharing the Dream

Sharing the Dream at Parkwood

Durham College President Don Lovisa, takes on the role of Honourary Chair for Parkwood’s benefit gala Garden of Dreams. The event will take place Friday, May 30, 2014.

An avid Parkwood supporter, Mr. Lovisa states: "I am pleased and proud to lend support to this benefit event. Through Durham College’s educational partnership with Parkwood I have gained a true appreciation for this national treasure, and particularly the historic gardens. The gala is a remarkable event, and I’m looking forward to sharing a special experience of Parkwood with community leaders, donors, sponsors and supporters, as we celebrate our partnership in its preservation."

The Parkwood gala is a biennial event to raise funds for the ongoing preservation and presentation of one of Canada’s finest grand estates and National Historic Sites. This year the event is presented by TD Bank Group, and will feature a gourmet dinner, silent & live auctions and dancing – all under a large marquee on the South Lawn.

"We’re so excited to have Don as Honourary Chair. He’s a fantastic champion for Parkwood’s gardens and their remarkable past, and he helps us to dream big when it comes to their future." notes Nancy Shaw, President of The Parkwood Foundation. The Garden of Dreams theme for 2014 shines a spotlight on conservation and education, and on the unique status Parkwood enjoys amongst the historic estates & homes of Canada, due to the caliber of design and the conserved state of the gardens.

An added touch for the Garden of Dreams silent auction will be 20 lush garden planters, created by the Durham College students of the Horticulture Technician Program at Parkwood.

Parkwood benefit events typically highlight key preservation projects in progress, giving supporters with an opportunity to see their contributions at work. A 2013/2014 project is
expected to be on view during Garden of Dreams, the newly-restored Vinery greenhouse. It marks the beginning of a full conservation program for the greenhouse complex.

The public is invited to attend, and may contact Parkwood for further information at 905.433.4311 or Tickets for the event are $ 250.00 per person.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Vinery Greenhouse Conservation Pilot Project III: Brick, Metal and Wood Components

One of the three brick types identified
One of the challenges of active conservation work is that lay persons often want to see the finished project pristine, shiny and like new. That is not the case with conservation. The object is to preserve and one of the things that we set out to do at the outset of the pilot project was to salvage as much reusable material from the original Vinery as plausible for reuse. As the contractors from Faber Solariums began taking the greenhouse apart, all salvaged material was returned to the shop for review and assessment.

As the disassembly progressed approx. +/- 300 bricks from the Vinery were deemed salvageable. While cleaning and assessing the condition of the bricks, 3 different types, of similar colour and texture, were identified during the process.

ERA Architects, Parkwood, and contractors met to discuss the selection of the replacement bricks, along with the use of the reclaimed bricks in the Vinery for preservation, as well as interpretive purposes

Experimenting with lime wash removal
Some experimental cleaning of the painted masonry surfaces has been underway over the last little while. This is because we have identified what looks to be a lime wash on some of the surfaces. Experimentation is underway because we are wary of physically damaging masonry with aggressive chemical or heavy friction applications to remove. In the past, Parkwood NHS has experienced the negative attributes of abrasive paint removal processes on historic surfaces, and we are carefully watching our intervention with regards to the Vinery project.

For the most part, the metals were in stable condition, showing wear and tear in the expected areas. For example the sills, and gutter drains were weak or broken between the bolt holes and the ends. In the case of the sills, they will be used, with the ends that are damaged being repaired with a 4mm sill plate used to match the historic profile of the original. As a modern intervention, during the installation, a non visible application of blueskin™ (rubberised asphalt compound membrane) will be added between the sill and the wall.
Items like sill brackets, eaves plates, collar ties, rafter end ties were in decent condition, with some  broken or others missing completely, etc. Reclaimed items from other sites, all approved, some even being labelled, Lord& Burnham, will be used in the rebuild.

While cleaning the flashing lips, a combination of copper, aluminium and galvanised ones were salvaged. During the cleaning process, we were able to identify a few of the steel elements that had been "blued" historically, as a rust prevention measure. These identified "blued" pieces were not blasted to preserve the technique, and a section of the bluing will be visible for interpretive content of the finished Vinery.
Gable rafter curve (Upper)
The wooden components have been deemed quite stable. In some areas, the historic pieces will have a consolidant applied, to fill holes, etc., but the anticipated rot, and areas of loss etc. associated with the age and condition of the Vinery has not been a concern.
Stay tuned as the process of rebuilding the Vinery is  documented and although not shiny and new, the initial work and foundation wall construction is looking  stunning.

Thank you to Sydney Martin E.R.A. Architects Inc. for the use of her photography.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Curious Curator: The Ontario Reader

Among the books within our book collection is the Ontario Reader, Third Reader, from 1885. Like many of the books within Parkwood it sits on the shelf, dark yellow fabric binding, pages showing signs of foxing (age related spots on vintage paper) and just being. As I peruse the shelves and check condition stability, its existence and purpose at Parkwood, in my mind, is likely due to Adelaide McLaughlin having been a teacher when she met Sam. Last week I decided to look a little bit further into the book. Well, to be honest, I was intrigued by what was curriculum of a Third Reader, (Grade 3) in 1885 and chuckled at some of the language and statements in the preface.

ALM third from left back row Teacher Sinclair PS,
Compliments Whitby Archives

This little book among the thousands in the Estate has an interesting history of its own, one of political arguing, national newspaper editorials, and its existence led to the advent of the Ontario Booksellers' Association.

The idea behind the creation of the Ontario Reader, was the Ministry of Education had desired the Ontario Reader series "become the sole authorised readers for use in the public schools." Furthermore, the Ministry assigned their publication to three publishers, granting exclusive rights, and a fixed price point, for purchase, of 30 cents per book. The Ministry was keen on this agreement, "because the contract gave them the right to inspect finished samples and to reject faulty work, the printing plates were kept the property of the Ministry and the Minister of Education, George Ross, reserved for himself strict control of the content and composition of the readers."

This new Ontario Reader program moved away from the public tenders and open competition for publication which had been the previous norm.
As one can imagine the independent book sellers were annoyed by this change in 1885, seeing that the process "could place them in a situation of perpetual disadvantage in dealings with the publishers." In January 1885, over 700 booksellers arrived in Toronto to "protest the government handling of the textbook issue, and to voice an united objection to the creation of a publishing combine with essentially monopolistic interests in the Ontario Readers, forming the Ontario Booksellers' Association."

Who knew when I picked up this book that it had such an intriguing history in terms of Ontario curriculum development, but also Ontario business history?

Want to learn more? My sources on the matter are Balancing the Books: Brokerage Politics and The Ontario Reader Question by Oisin Patrick Rafferty


Liberty of Trade from the Thraldom of the Autocrats: Provision of School Textbooks in Ontario, 1850-1909 by Penney Clark