See Canada's 10 most endangered places before they're gone
St. Alphonsus Church is shown in this undated photo near Sydney, N.S. (Heritage Canada / Donna Marie MacLean)
Josh Elliott, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, July 21, 2014 1:30PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, July 21, 2014 1:56PM EDT
Heritage Canada National Trust recently released its Top 10 Endangered Places list, outlining the most iconic heritage sites and structures in the country that may soon be gone.
Local heritage groups have tried to keep these structures alive, but money, age and lack of interest have put these 10 places on the brink of vanishing.
1. Robertson Headframe – Yellowknife, NWT
The Robertson Headframe is the tallest free-standing structure in the Northwest Territories, and has ruled over the Yellowknife landscape since 1977. Originally built for mining operations, the Robertson Headframe's current owner wants to demolish it, but is balking at the estimated $1.6-million demolition cost. That's got the city of Yellowknife weighing its options as it looks for a way to keep its most visible landmark in place.
2. Vancouver's West Side character homes – Vancouver, B.C.
Some of Vancouver's most historic neighbourhoods are getting a 21st-century makeover that's erasing many of the pre-1940s heritage homes in those areas. The Endangered Places list says high land prices and investor speculation are turning Vancouver's West Side homes into "demo bait," as developers tear them down to build bigger, pricier houses.
Local heritage groups are pushing back against the development boom, but the Endangered Places list says West Side character home continue to be torn down "at an alarming rate."
3. Paramount Theatre – Edmonton, Alta.
Edmonton's International-Style Paramount Theatre was a downtown gem when it was built in 1952, but Famous Players bought and closed the building in 2003 and it's been the site of real estate speculation ever since. Now, the real estate developer that owns it says it plans to demolish the building and erect an apartment building on the site.
4. Petrie Building – Guelph, Ont.
Built in 1882, Guelph's heritage-designated Petrie Building is considered a local landmark in the city's downtown. The towering four-storey structure was originally built for a local pharmacist, and features large windows and a mortar-and-pestle design in the stonework.
Nowadays, a restaurant occupies the ground floor, while the upper floors have fallen into disrepair after decades of neglect. Garish boards now cover much of the building's façade, and Heritage Canada says the inside is in decline.
The Endangered Places list calls the building's current state "demolition by neglect."
5. Former GTR Locomotive Repair Shops – Stratford, Ont.
Officials in Stratford, Ont. are trying to decide what to do with a 105-year-old locomotive repair shop they acquired in 2009. The 46,000 square-metre structure is considered culturally significant, but the city of Stratford has yet to settle on a use for it. Some have proposed it be repurposed, while others say it should be demolished.
The Endangered Places list says it would be "an environmental travesty" to demolish the massive building and send it to a landfill.
6. Nor'Wester Mountain Range and Loch Lomond Watershed Reserve – Blake Township, Neebing, Ont.
The Endangered Places list says the Nor'Wester Mountain Range and Loch Lomond Watershed Reserve near Thunder Bay are key sites in the local ecosystem, and important locations for nearby First Nations communities.
Horizon Wind Inc. wants to build 16 wind turbines along the mountainous skyline, with each 32-megawatt turbine standing 139 metres high. A community group is currently fighting Horizon's plans through an Ontario court challenge.
7. Estate of the Peres de Saint-Croix (Fathers of the Holy Cross), Notre-Dame-du-Bel-Air – Lac Simon, Que.
The historic 194,000 square-metre estate of the Peres de Saint-Croix is in danger of being divided up and sold after a private company purchased it in March of 2014, according to Heritage Canada.
The Roman Catholic retreat on the shores of Lac Simon has an old chapel, a 19th-century cemetery, extensive forest paths and a rich history as a religious hub in the community. The estate was declared a heritage site in January of 2013, meaning municipal bylaw prevents any owner from dividing up the property for sale.
Still, that's what the current owner is trying to do. The regional municipality of Papineau has said it will not challenge the estate's owner until someone actually attempts to buy part of the protected land.
8. St. Alphonsus Church – New Victoria Highway, Victoria Mines, N.S.
Nicknamed the "Stone Church," St. Alphonsus Church near Sydney, N.S. is a local landmark that has seen better days. The church shut its doors back in 2007 when the Diocese of Antigonish decided it couldn't pay for $600,000 in repairs to the building. It's been in decline ever since, with a smashed bell tower window, a pigeon infestation and a crumbling façade among its many problems.
The Diocese of Antigonish has moved to demolish the building, but a community group wants to restore it as a tourist destination. It's estimated $300,000 will be required to save the church.
9. Gander International Airport Departures Lounge – Gander, N.L.
With a 22-metre-wide mural painted by Kenneth Lochhead, a striking geometric design on the floor and some unique furniture designed by Canadian and international artists, Gander International Airport's departure lounge exemplified the height of modernist style when it was built in 1959. That was when Gander served as one of the busiest international airports in the world.
But Gander is no longer the trans-Atlantic hub it once was, and airport administrators want to shrink the facility down to a more manageable one-third of its current size. The airport announced demolition plans for the Gander departure lounge last April, sparking public outcry over the loss of the architecturally significant terminal.
Airport management says it plans to preserve the mural and some of the furniture ahead of the demolition.
10. Federally-owned lighthouses – across Canada
Canada's Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act is designed to keep the country's historic lighthouses intact, but it can't take care of all of them. Those not in use are getting left behind, and if their local communities don't take care of them, no one will. Among the endangered lighthouses is one on Nottawasaga Island, Ont., built in the 1850s, and another on Sambro Island, N.S., which is thought to be the oldest lighthouse on the continent.