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Annual General Meeting of the
Weston Heritage Conservation District
Saturday, November 27, 2010


All AGM photographs were supplied by Dave Bennett, WHCD Director, with the exception of those specifically credited to
Mulugeta Zergaber - Graphic design, Photography, Illustration, Web-design

Unless otherwise indicated, all "Elm Street Project" photographs are courtesy of
Rick Charbonneau and Lisa Connors of Richard Charbonneau Contracting

Note: Special guest speaker Rick Charbonneau's presentation, "Blending the Old with the New" (in which
Rick describes a recent restoration project on Elm Street, Weston), follows this report

Our third Annual General Meeting held at 1901 Weston Road, provided residents with an opportunity to socialize, touch base with city and provincial political representatives, and learn the current status of the WHCD's Phase 2 conservation district study.


WHCD President Cherri Hurst

WHCD President Cherri Hurst welcomed the assembly and introduced her colleagues on the Weston Heritage Conservation District's current Board of Directors:

Executive:
Vice President – Domenic Martino
Secretary – Margaret Breen
Treasurer – Suri Weinberg-Linsky

Directors at Large:
Susan Lawrence
Mac Henderson
Bruce Robb
Christine Tier
Neil Saito
Pearl Goodman
Dave Bennett (incoming director)
Dr. Albert Pietersma (incoming director)

Cherri thanked outgoing directors Phil Keirstead and Steve Foster who, among other things, created the WHCD's website www.heritageweston.com during their two-year term of office. She advised that while Phil and Steve will be stepping down as directors, they have agreed to continue in their respective positions as website Designer and Applications Specialist, to ensure the continuation of this "beautiful and inspiring work".

Cherri also recognized Patricia Adele, who has worked closely with Phil and Steve for more than a year as the website's Copy Editor. Cherri thanked Pat for contributing to the vitality and professionalism of the website. In addition, she acknowledged Pat's assistance in other areas, particularly her recent effort to gather stories from local seniors for the "Weston Memories" section of our website.

Cherri then invited two special guests to the podium:

Heritage Champion Frances Nunziata, City Councillor, Ward 11 York South-Weston


Ward 11 Councillor Frances Nunziata

Noting that it takes many volunteers and volunteer hours and a lot of money to create a Heritage Conservation District, Councillor Nunziata thanked Cherri and the Board and all of the volunteers and WHCD supporters who have, through their combined effort, done so much to preserve Weston's built heritage. A strong supporter of the WHCD since its inception in 2004, she urged the Board to press on with and finalize the WHCD Phase 2 conservation district study. She spoke enthusiastically about the project, and about Weston in general, and indicated that she would assist in any way that she could to make the Phase 2 HCD a reality.

Laura Albanese, Member of Provincial Parliament, York South-Weston


York South-Weston MPP Laura Albanese

Photograph by Mulugeta Zergaber

Stating in her opening remarks, "I really am a fan of this project and will give all the help I can to support it", Laura Albanese told the audience that she has always loved Weston Village. She spoke warmly of her visits, over a 30-year period, to the shops and businesses on Weston Road. She noted that the ongoing effort to establish a heritage conservation district in Weston was of special interest to her, particularly in her current role as Parliamentary Assistant to Ontario's Minister of Culture. Acknowledging that conflict of interest guidelines associated with this job make it impossible for her to request provincial funding for the WHCD, she nevertheless said that she would "try to get more people and more help to achieve this goal". Laura Albanese applauded the effort by the WHCD Board and the residents of Weston to preserve Weston's history and heritage.

Cherri returned to the podium to deliver the President's report on the status of the WHCD, covering the one-year period from November, 2009 to November 2010.

President's Report - The Year in Review

Cherri indicated that 2009-2010 was a year of significant accomplishment for the WHCD.

During the year, the Board of Directors, with help from volunteers:

  • Looked into various grants to supplement ongoing fundraising efforts and, very recently, submitted a grant application to Ontario's Trillium Foundation. (Noting that the Trillium application involved a great deal of paperwork and countless hours, Cherri asked the audience to "keep their fingers crossed").
  • Investigated the possibility of obtaining much needed research information from Toronto's Municipal Property Assessment Corporation.
  • Updated and expanded www.heritageweston.com and continued to provide information and assistance through our email support service info@heritageweston.com.
  • Monitored the status of the historic Plank Road Building, one of Weston's oldest structures, located at Weston and St. Phillips Roads.


The President's report

  • Attended numerous meetings with real estate developers, building owners and the community in an effort to encourage good new development, or to preserve existing historic structures. (Cherri referred, in particular, to meetings related to the development of the Cruickshank Motors property on Weston Road, the fate of the old stone Carriage House at West Park Hospital, and proposed renovations at 50 John St.).
  • Investigated the possibility of Weston being included in a future "Doors Open Toronto".
  • Delivered speeches at the Rotary Club and Etobicoke-York Community Preservation Panel, as well as at Baby Point where an effort is underway to establish a Heritage Conservation District.
  • Produced WHCD-related displays for events around the neighbourhood (for example, at Weston Memorial Junior Public School's June Fair, the 100th anniversary celebration at Weston's Bank of Nova Scotia Branch, and St. John’s Roman Catholic Church).

An example of a display prepared by Cherri Hurst to promote the WHCD

  • Participated for the third year running in Queen’s Drive's annual street-wide garage sale, which Cherri described as an important fundraiser. She thanked the event organizers who generously donated this year's participants' entry fee to the WHCD.
  • Undertook small fund raising projects such as the sale of replica 1878 Weston maps and vintage Weston photographs. (Cherri mentioned that WHCD-supplied photographs are featured in a display of Weston's history in the lobby of 2130 Weston Road).
  • Worked with a graphic artist to produce a fundraising poster featuring Weston's architecture. The latest draft of the poster was on display during the AGM. Cherri advised that the poster is "in the final stretch". When it becomes available for sale, we will post a notice at www.heritageweston.com.

WHCD Treasurer Suri Weinberg-Linsky delivers the 2009-2010 financial report. Suri described her duties as Treasurer and offered a detailed accounting of fundraising results and expenditures during the WHCD's 2009-2010 fiscal year. While acknowledging successes achieved in the year, Suri reminded the audience that we still have some way to go in our effort to raise the funds necessary to hire a heritage urban planner to help us turn the Weston Village Phase 2 study area into an HCD.

Photograph by Mulugeta Zergaber

  • Co-hosted at Elm Street Park, Neighbours Night Out, the largest of its kind in the city of Toronto. Cherri noted that the WHCD was able to obtain the necessary permitting thanks to the liability insurance that it carries for community events.
  • Met every two weeks to discharge the ongoing business of the WHCD, including paying bills and preparing books and records, filing income tax returns and other forms, preparing and distributing flyers, and responding to requests for assistance from the community.

Cherri then made two announcements of special significance to the WHCD:

The City of Toronto's Preservation Services Department recently released a new document, entitled "Policies and Terms of Reference for Designating Heritage Conservation Districts (HCD) in Toronto", which will have a far-reaching impact on Toronto's heritage conservation districts. Among other things the new guidelines, which are designed to strengthen and protect Toronto's HCD’s, call for more stringent research standards at the study stage. This is expected to make the HCD designation process much more expensive and time-consuming. Cherri indicated that she has attended meetings and made dozens of telephone calls in an effort to gain an understanding of how the new policies will impact the WHCD. We will provide updates, in the future, in www.heritageweston.com.

Recently, Toronto Public Archives advised that it would break with tradition and allow WHCD researchers to photograph the Village of Weston Assessment Records. Cherri said that she had successfully test-photographed a small selection of the documents. There are many benefits associated with bringing digital images of the Assessment Records home to Weston: researchers will no longer have to travel downtown to Public Archives, and they will be able to transcribe the information in these document whenever they have free time (including evenings, weekends and holidays, when Public Archives is normally closed). Our hope is that this added convenience will persuade more residents to volunteer for our research project. As always, Cherri will train volunteers in proper research practices to ensure that their output is of the highest quality.

Having completed her report to the AGM, Cherri turned to the final order of business. She asked the assembly to endorse the nomination of David Bennett and Dr. Albert Pietersma as "directors at large" of the Weston Heritage Conservation District. Cherri's motion carried unanimously. We welcome Dave and Al to the WHCD's Board of Directors.

Cherri thanked the WHCD's Board, volunteers and supporters for their wonderful effort in 2009-2010, and expressed the hope that 2011 would be a positive, productive year for the Weston Heritage Conservation District.

***

With the business segment of the AGM concluded, Cherri invited special guest speaker Rick Charbonneau of Richard Charbonneau Contracting to the podium.

By way of introduction, Cherri mentioned that she met Rick earlier this year on Elm Street, in Weston, where he and his crew were restoring the Humber stone stairway, landing and front walk of a heritage residence. "We struck up a conversation and the thing I noticed most was the excitement, pride and passion that he obviously had for the project he was working on. I left with the wonderful feeling that those stones were in good hands." Cherri passed by the worksite from time to time over the course of the three-week renovation to watch Rick's progress, and came to appreciate the care and attention to detail that he gave to his work. She was delighted that he was able to use many of the Humber stone slabs from the original stairs and walkway in the renovation. At the conclusion of the project, she contacted Rick to invite him, and his wife and business partner Lisa Connors, to address this year's AGM.


Rick Charbonneau and Lisa Connors (facing the camera)
trade stories with WHCD Vice President Domenic Martino

For the benefit of residents who were unable to attend the AGM, Rick and Lisa provided Rick's speaking notes and a selection of photographs from their Elm Street renovation for publication in our website. In the following article, we offer a synopsis of Rick's lecture:


Special Presentation

“ELM STREET PROJECT -
BLENDING THE OLD WITH THE NEW”

By

Rick Charbonneau

RICHARD CHARBONNEAU CONTRACTING
Learn more about Richard Charbonneau Contracting at rcc-contracting.com

"We all share the same passion for historically accurate architecture and the importance of preserving it in our local communities. In my mind, historical architecture has room for both the new and the old, when properly combined, and I have a vision of the two being able to co-exist seamlessly. I feel the earlier styles have much to offer us both aesthetically and structurally. The time and creative workmanship that was invested in our historical homes speaks for itself every time we admire the intricate detail work of the wood trims, stone and brick work."

With these words, Rick Charbonneau introduced the theme of his lecture - blending the old with the new. Rick spoke enthusiastically about Weston's old homes, superb architecture and country village look and feel. His PowerPoint presentation opened with a series of images of Weston's Humber stone walls, most of which were built between 1928 and 1950 by master stone mason James Gilbert Gove. Noting that many of these walls had nicely withstood the test of time, Rick pointed to less fortunate examples where re-tuck pointing or reconstruction will soon become necessary if the walls are to survive.


Photograph by Dave Bennett

This is the dilemma facing many of Weston's heritage home owners. Within the next decade dozens of residences in Weston Village will become centenarians. Construction methods and materials have changed radically since 1900. How can a well-intentioned home owner faithfully renovate and repair an historic home without fundamentally altering its character?

Rick noted that "an historical home can be a little overwhelming with all of its maintenance and repairs." He explained to the audience that heritage home owners should bear in mind, when considering repairs, that "it will add value to the home to renovate in the old accurate style rather than with newer, less fitting renovation solutions. Most people that buy homes in this area do so for the love of the architecture. They want the beauty and original workmanship restored and maintained - not lost to modern styles and materials."


Photograph by Dave Bennett

As an example, and to help Weston residents understand the steps involved in making repairs or restorations to older homes, Rick and Lisa prepared a PowerPoint presentation that detailed "the process of reclaiming old stone - working it into a new design that retains the beauty of its original historical style."

The Elm Street Project - Blending the Old with the New

Weston's Elm Street is rich in heritage and fine architecture.

Rick and his team were called to Elm Street by the owners of a c.1880 home who were concerned with the deteriorating condition of the Humber stone stairway, landing and front walk leading to their residence.

The mortar holding these Humber stone slabs in place had weakened so badly that many were free-floating. In addition, rain water was able to penetrate the slabs and percolate into the basement.

Rick said that the stairs and walkway had been built by the home owner's father, and that his clients wanted the renovation to respect, to the greatest extent possible, the original design. This would entail the careful removal and cleaning of the dozens of Humberstone slabs so that they could be re-used in a design in which Rick would blend the old with the new.

Passersby, including Cherri Hurst, marvelled at the care exercised by Rick's team in the excavation, handling and cleaning of the Humber stone. Interestingly, in the backfill underneath the stairway and landing, they found antique bedsprings and parts from vintage automobiles. Unfortunately, these well-meaning "fillers", coupled with inferior mortar, actually hastened the deterioration of the stairway.

Having completed the excavation, the contractors poured new concrete footings, taking care to score the upper surface so that mortar would adhere to it. Rick noted that his team mixed the concrete from scratch, adding extra Portland cement to improve its strength.

To correct the water seepage problem, Rick applied "Blue Skin" waterproofing membrane, a liquid, paintable, rubberized asphalt coating, to the wall of the house. Rick said that Blue Skin is self-adhering and very easy to apply. It is available locally at most home and building centres.

Working with rough stone of varying dimensions is challenging. To arrive at the most aesthetically pleasing and best fitting combination of stones for the stairway and landing before applying any mortar, Rick and his team laid loose slabs on the home owner's lawn and arranged and re-arranged them in various groupings until they were satisfied with their overall appearance. This was a task similar to piecing together an interlocking puzzle.

The home owner's father really liked the distinctive, dark stone pictured above. When he built the original foundation of the landing, he set the stone upright to show off its mossy surface. In a sentimental gesture, Rick replicated this in the renovation. He said that his team took great care, when cleaning the Humber stone slabs, to preserve moss, natural discolouration, and fossils. Offering a hint to would-be stone masons in the audience, Rick revealed that a kitchen spoon works nicely as a tuck-pointing tool when mortaring rough stone with uneven gaps.

As the days passed, the renovation began to take shape. Rick's team used heavy, 10 millimeter rebar to add strength to the structure and back-filled the landing with broken Humberstone and concrete to provide a solid base for the cap. As you can see, Rick's design is very close to the original. The stair risers are approximately six inches in height.

It was at this point that Rick began to "marry" the new with the old by introducing concrete into his design. He described concrete as a remarkable but terribly misunderstood product. While everyone knows that it is perfect for foundations and floors, Rick challenged the audience to forget their pre-conceived notions and visualize its use in specialized, high impact applications such as kitchen countertops. He indicated that he has had considerable success in this area. Rick chose concrete to cap the stairs and landing, as well as for the walkway because of its durability, water resistance and attractive finish. He used sections of PVC pipe, sliced in half along their length, to mold the rounded ends and edges of the stair treads and landing.

Rick recommended pouring the walkway in sections, with control joints, to allow for expansion and contraction and avoid cracking. In a signature touch, he embedded maple leaves in the surface of the poured concrete. After the surface dried he removed them, leaving distinctive, long-lasting impressions. In a final flourish, Rick custom designed the railing system. Using Pine, he created the seven upright newel posts, mirroring the profile of the nearby c.1880 posts that support the porch roof. He used nylon fasteners to attach the railing system to the stair treads and landing.

As the project neared its end, the home owner asked Rick to colour the surface of the concrete to match the brick walls of the residence. Rick obliged and, to lend an aged appearance, he painstakingly over-coated the colourant with a dark "wash". He then applied a sealer to the concrete, but not to the Humber stone. Note the Maple Leaf impressions in the concrete above.

Once completed, the "makeover" was stunning. As Rick predicted, the marriage of old world stone and mortar with modern day concrete produced a durable, yet aesthetically pleasing and appropriate finish that has enhanced both the appearance and value of this wonderful heritage residence.

Thank you Rick and Lisa for preparing your marvelous presentation for our AGM. We enjoyed meeting you and hope you will be frequent visitors to Weston.

Rick Charbonneau has been a General contractor for the past 26 years. "I take great pride in my work and enjoy the satisfaction of working with a client to bring their ideas to life. My expertise lies in millwork, stone, custom concrete, renovations, building and landscaping. Basically every project is important to the home owner and to myself, and no project is too large or too small. I will be more than happy to discuss any of your pending projects or restorations that will help to add value to your historical home. Contact Lisa or myself at any time if you need material lists, tool suppliers or any step-by-step instructions on your upcoming projects." To learn more, please visit rcc-contracting.com.

We would like to thank everyone who attended our
2010 Annual General Meeting

The Board of Directors, Weston Heritage Conservation District

Photograph by Dave Bennett and Mulugeta Zergaber


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