Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Heritage Myth: Canada's history isn't old enough to be worth preserving.

Ever had anybody tell you: "Why would we need to save that building? It's not old." They might be referring to a 20th-century factory, a 1930s home with Art Deco styling, or a Supertest gas station. It's as though they think only the only interesting buildings are pioneer log cabins or Victorian mansions with gingerbread. Or worse, the only real historical buildings are European castles and ancient Near Eastern ruins. 

But an interesting point was made by Terry O'Reilly, keynote speaker at the 2011 Ontario Heritage Conference in Cobourg. 80% of heritage sites in England were built after 1800. Thus demonstrating that even across the pond in merrie olde England recent history is considered important and worth preserving.

Old buildings reflect our cultural identity regardless of whether they're 50, 500, or 5,000 years old. It doesn't need to be a moated manor house or an Egyptian pyramid to have value. Canada's heritage should and does have significance for Canadians.

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