Tag Archives: heritage

New Westminster Heritage Workshop a Hit

Click the link to read an article from local paper, The Record, on workshop hosted by the City of New Westminster:

New Westminster Heritage Workshop a Hit


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Kilby: Phase I Complete

As of last Thursday (July 28th) this first phase of the work at the Kilby Historic Site was completed.  With scaffold erected, Enviro-Vac (a hazardous material remediation company) completed the removal of loose lead paint and caulking from the exterior of the building.  They also took care of some asbestos-covered piping which was exposed to the public space on the interior.

The foreman, Corey, was professional and a pleasure to work with.  The workers–their specialty being in safe work not fine restoration–had some learning curve with regards to removing paint without damaging the siding.  While there are a few places where we will have to smooth out scratches and gouges, the workers improved their technique as the job progressed.

The thing I have always found about scraping paint when you are not trying to remove all is that not matter how carefully you do it, the next day there are always sections where the paint is separating the next day.  The overnight moisture and the cool-warm cycle cause the paint and the wood to expand and contract at different rates, thereby separating the two.  NEVER sand to blend the two.  First, thinner paint film is more prone to curling when you start painting, and second you must go back to your lead abatement practices and at a higher hazard level.  I would recommend a slightly heavier coating of primer (always prime bare wood, regardless of the label on the paint can) which will fill the gaps and better adhere the old paint to the wood.  On this job we will be adding a second full coat of primer (not too rare in my heritage experience) followed by two coats of finish paint.  This will blend the surface nicely and maintain the patina.

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Kilby Project in Local Newspaper

Last week’s Agassiz-Harrison Observer featured a background story on my current project.

Click to read “Kilby saved by Emergency Funding”.

(That’s me in the foreground in the white helmet, trying not to get eaten by mosquitoes.)

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Kilby Historic Site

Like many whose work largely depends on weather, I spent a lot of my spring watching the rain fall.  I spent some of that time spinning my wheels, but much of it looking for job leads.  When searching for leads was slow, I also sent a couple of applications as back up.  When a project management company in Maple Ridge offered me a job as an Assistant Superintendent, I thought I’d be turning my back on heritage for a spell.

It turns out the first project I am on is Kilby Historic SiteAfter too much deferred maintenance, the building is undergoing an exterior restoration.  On the to-do list is a new roof, dealing with failing (lead) paint, and conservation of the windows and front porch.  We will also be assessing the structure (largely in good repair), ramps and site drainage.

I will keep you posted…

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Course Review

HA 489C—Determining Significance of Heritage Resources (1.5 units)
This course is from University of Victoria’s Cultural Resource Management program. Being one of the core courses of the Professional Specialization Certificate in Heritage Conservation Planning it seems to be offered on a fairly regular basis—at least once every two years. I took it during the Winter 2011 semester (Jan-Apr) as a 14-week distance course, though it has been offered as a 1-week intensive at the University. For more information see:  http://www.uvcs.uvic.ca/aspnet/Course/Detail/?code=HA489C.

Course Evaluation
The objective of the course was to familiarize students with the issues at play in determining the significance of heritage resources. Content leaned heavily toward values-based management (Alastair Kerr is a major proponent on the subject and lectures internationally), however other systems were explored. The key skill which students will come away with is the ability to write effective Statements of Significance (S.O.S.). Also, research skills for architectural history is practiced and a number of related urban planning issues are explored. I feel that the objectives were met very well, and based the general feed back from the instructor, participants achieved a high degree of success in assignments.

I did not find the course particularly difficult.  It was, however, time-consuming.  It has been a few years since I last took an upper-level course, so I am having difficulties remembering the workload.  Each unit had readings from the reprint package, as well as websites, articles and audio interviews to review, and weekly entries on the course forum.  There were three assignments which for me totalled 32 pages of written work (this included notes for the S.O.S.).

For the most I enjoyed the readings.  In particular,  I was E.H. Carr’s “The Historian and His Facts” from What Is History? stands out:  I wish I had read that at the start of my studies in History.  While I won’t dispute the usefulness of any of the readings, there were a couple of readings dealing with planning and public interaction which I felt could use their own course or perhaps greater recognition in the courses objectives.

The course forum allowed for interaction with other students of varying stages of their careers, from students working toward their bachelor to professionals well into their careers but looking to up-grade skills.  The majority of students were from Canada (Vancouver Island and Southern Ontario in particular), but there were American students as well, and one person from Mexico.  As I have noticed in past courses, the forum was immensely popular at the start of the course, but waned as time went on.

It was not difficult to see the relevance of the three assignments—defining values-based management, review an evaluation system and writing an S.O.S.  I appreciated the requirement for the Analyzing and Designing an Evaluation System for Heritage Resources assignment.  Beyond the obvious of studying and organization’s program, finding a partner heritage organization a helped create an excellent new contact for me and promises future opportunities for networking.

I would be remiss if I did not compliment the instructor.  You can read about Alastair’s experience on the above link to the course website.  He is an enthusiastic communicator who obviously has great passion for what he does.  His feedback is constructive and regular, which I feel is very important for this type of program.

The only thing I might change would to incorporate a system of review assignments before handing them in, possibly as part of the forum.  It would give students some ready-made content for the forum and allow for reviewing other’s feedback…maybe even by other students.


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City of Burnaby Appreciation Dinner

Last night my wife were invited to the City Appreciation Dinner for the City of Burnaby. It was an event for people volunteering for the various commissions. We received the invite by way of my novice membership with the Community Heritage Commission. It was well attended, the obligatory speeches were light-hearted, and the dinner was excellent.

As an extra perk, we received tickets to this summer’s Burnaby Blues & Roots Festival (k.d. lang is apparently headlining).

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Introducing Kathy

Hi, my name Kathy Johnson, I am part owner of Housewright Building & Restoration. I come to this work after a long history as a creative person, I have a theatre degree from SFU, I make new objects out of cast off clothing, reupholster and restore furniture found on the side of the road and design gardens; I am a maker and a fixer and someone who sees beauty in old things. What I like about restoring windows, is taking a sash that looks likes it good for nothing but landfill and restoring it to is original purpose and useful beauty. Each project is unique and the process of transformation always fascinating.

In the next few weeks I am going to lead you step by step through the transformation of a stained glass window sash from beginning to finished product. I hope you enjoy the journey.

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Filed under education, introduction, windows

APT Victoria 2011

Repost from APT website.
Heritage on the Edge: Sustaining Buildings, Landscapes and Communities
October 11-16, 2011
The Fairmont Empress
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Conference registration will open on Wednesday, May 4, at www.aptconference.org. Fees are at their lowest rates right now:
New This Year!
Conference Scholarships
A new scholarship program, offered by the APT Conferences Committee, will provide partial funding for new and unemployed preservationists. Applicants must fulfill certain criteria, which are outlined on the application. Applications will be accepted through August 15.

Book Drive for Cuban Preservationists
As a follow-up to APT’s first research trip to Cuba in February 2011, APT will collect books, periodicals, and other literature for Cuban preservationists.

Canadian Conservation, Current Issues, and Challenges over Beer
All attendees will be invited to discuss potential ways to consolidate and organize efforts in conservation in Canada.

Dessert Auction (Yum!)
Raise funds for Student Scholars and enjoy decadent desserts at the same time! This new fundraiser, debuting at the Awards Banquet, will pit dining tables against each other for the rights to have their preferred dessert served to them.

For more information visit APT Victoria 2011.


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Twitter Topic

Repost from Adventures in Heritage

The third #builtheritage twitter chat will take place on May 4th at 4pm. The topic is Preservation Job hunting. Join us for some great job hunting and career tips or to share your heritage career experience with others!  Not sure how to participate in a twitter chat? Click here for instructions.


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Antique Fairbanks Beam Scale


This is the first project I took on under the Housewright name.

This scale is on display at in the lobby at 540 Beatty Street as a heritage feature.  Originally there were two scales; one located at the loading bay and the other at the rear of the main floor.  They were stored on site throughout construction, and as such had accumulated a layer of concrete slurry and other dust.  There was also some damage to some pieces and some missing.  However, there were only enough useable parts to build one complete scale–but they had to be assembled.  I was able to find enough information to assemble so that it could be functional again.

I cleaned all parts with a brass wire brush and mild detergent.  Previous to work on the building, the wood cross member had sustained water damage.  On the top-side the varnish had failed some time ago and the wood had some water related damage.  I had to use a scraper to remove the damaged wood (testing showed the wood was too far gone to absorbed any finishes).  Some patina was lost, obviously.  The original branding, visible in the photo, was still in excellent condition.

After cleaning, much of the paint and finish were lost.  I applied a black semi-gloss oil paint directly over the remaining paint on the cast iron pieces to protect it from rust.  The brass needed no such treatment.  I am on the fence on the wood finish I used:  clear  polyurethane.  Polyurethane will make any future restoration difficult, as it will want to take any other finish (including the lettering) should removal be required.  Keeping in mind that the scale sits in a high traffic area (directly beside the entrance to the main elevator), and has no other protection, plans or requirements for maintenance in place, this treatment recovers some virtue.  It will give excellent protection and can be re-coated to renew the protection.

Overall, I was happy with the project, as was the general contractor and the consultant.


Filed under past projects