Tuesday, February 2, 2010
A bit of Canadian (Ontario actually) history...
WELCOME TO MARKHAMS HERITAGE ESTATES
Markham Heritage Estates is a very unique heritage subdivision owned by the Town of Markham, Ontario (a subdivision near Toronto). It is divided into 42 lots, with its sole purpose being a last resort for the heritage homes of Markham, which are under the threat of neglect. Heritage homes in Markham can no longer be legally demolished, however many land owners leave these beautiful structures unprotected by the harsh Canadian elements, in order for them to disintegrate. Thus, freeing the now very valuable lands for commercial or new subdivision use.
The Concept of the Heritage Estates began when a toll highway (Highway 407) was being built through Markham, and many of the Towns' heritage homes were under the threat of demolition. This subdivision was created to relocate these homes. These lots are sold below market value to owners of endangered heritage buildings, to provide incentive to relocate and restore these buildings, and undertake such extensive and expensive projects. Markham has implemented strong policies for retaining heritage buildings on their original sites, surrounded by new developments, and also with the development of this heritage subdivision, it is ensuring the survival of its esthetic and important architectural past. The remaining lots are reserved for homes which as mentioned above, are in danger of loss by neglect. The wonderful subdivision truly is a last resort for our architectural past, and is a tourist destination in Toronto (although it is still relatively secret).
I am fortunate enough to say that I live in one of these lovely homes. We didnt actually relocate the home, but bought it from the family which did (after significant arm twisting -me doing the twisting, my husband being the twisted). However, we did a lot of its internal restoration, and added a beautiful (not to mention architecturally accurate) addition. The town has a Heritage Committee and a Heritage Board which must approve all additions/changes to these homes, including paint colour, materials, design, windows, etc...All to ensure the integrity of the changes to the original design, and time frame of the structure.
As this is truly a unique subdivision in North America, and possibly world wide (anyone have any information/objections on that???) I thought that you old house lovers out there would enjoy reading about this area, and its individual homes. I'll see if any of you can guess which one of these homes is mine...