the WALKERTON of PRESERVATION By Adam Sobolak

part 4
back to page 3
prologue   zero   press
December 26, 2000     1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9
to be continued... 2002    
glossary   notes   links  
proceed to page 5

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And thus, around 1994, the Old Mill proposal came into play. On the surface of things, this proposal to "de-ruin the ruin" on behalf of an ambitious expansion proposal looked prepostrously misguided--conceptually years, even decades out of whack with good current preservation standards. But perhaps, one might have naively assumed, it wasn't; maybe, in fact, the apparent prepostrousness of the idea was such that there had to be some kind of cheeky method to their madness. After all, the local LACAC had given it its approval; if that's the case, then it couldn't be that bad...
           Think again. Even I, at several removes, could have been fooled, to a form.
           From all indications, it was approved on fairly skimpy evidence--a model and initial drawings, and presumably a pitch that could have been voiced by Lionel Hutz on how "building within" was to preserve the "deteriorating" walls of the mill and in turn enhance the whole complex, and it'd be to the benefit of the community, et al. (And to top it off for "consistency's" sake, it was handled by the same design hands that carried out the earlier additions to the Old Mill complex.) There evidently appears to have been, prior to approval, an utter lack of detailed, thought-out, constructive discussion, or debate, or questioning of the scheme's appropriateness and what its execution might involve--and as the scheme in many respects resembles quite remarkably that recent Toronto preservationist cause celebre, the proposal to chew up the Concourse Building and regurgitate it into a superskyscraper, it's an interesting point to ponder. Perhaps they were scared that by opposing the scheme or questioning it too aggressively, they might come across as anti-progress obstructionist screaming meemies, engaging in the kind of Toronto-style "social activism" that gave true-blue Etobians nosebleeds. Perhaps they were also scared because, with the Old Mill complex being a true-blue Middle Etobicoke "establishment" institution, they couldn't afford to "cross their own", to jeopardize their personal reputations and connections on grounds of principle.
           And again, they may not all have comprehended what the desirable "state of the art" is--especially if they were prone to setting gravestones into walls or offering to acquire art deco post office interior details rather than encouraging their retention/restoration in situ. Or maybe, especially in this case, some didn't want to know, in an act of stiff-upper-lip, principled-conservative entrenchment; the owners had the right to do what they wanted to do with their property, it's the Etobicoke way, and if you don't think it's "acceptable preservation", then, tough. Besides, one assumes "the people" knew better than the self-styled preservation elite, and if this makes the crumbling, hazardous ruin "useful" and "enhances" it--as one former Montgomery's Inn executive jaw-droppingly told me of the ruinous structure, "where's the value"--so be it. It's the preservationist equivalent to the McMichael/George McLean/Peter Worthington artistic ideal according to the ham-handed, stodgily reductivist terms of Bateman/Danby/Loates schmaltz populism, a bulwark against the avant-gardist artistic elite which wastes tax dollars on incomprehensible paint-roller abstraction, meat dresses, and their ilk. Thus, rather than a "Walkertonian" calamity, the Old Mill might instead be viewed as akin to a George McLean assuming chief curatorial duties at the AGO or the National Gallery. The "arts elite" might deem it an unmitigated reactionary disaster; but good, decent, "real people", or so it's claimed, would find it an accountable use of taxpayers' dollars--at last!
           "Where's the value?" Reduced to such terms, Etobicoke's existing preservation modus operandi becomes not embarrassingly threadbare and impotent, but a supposedly "ideal" model. Building owners assert carte blanche rights over their property, and the more abstract, spiritual, aesthetic/purist "value" arguments attached to, say, maintaining the Old Mill in ruinous form become much subjective gobbledygook. And nothing in Etobicoke is sacred, except, maybe, a public "heritage" institution like Montgomery's Inn--and hypothetically, for "value" purposes, even that might ideally be be dismantled and moved to Centennial Park and its valuable land sold off for condo development.
           Or, to take the argument in a "John Bentley Mays" direction, the Old Mill itself might be justifiably seen as a distinctly un-avantgarde, even hackneyed schmaltz icon in its own right; therefore, schmaltz deserveth schmaltz, sentimental piffle deserveth sentimental piffle, so what does it matter.
           Maybe so. But it appears that the reaction by many to the Etobicoke LACAC's approval of the Old Mill scheme was a sort of head-shaking "oh dear". Almost as if the Etobicoke LACAC was in the eyes of its neighbouring and parallel organizations what the mill ruin had perhaps been in the eyes of its owners; an apologetically-treated, needlessly useless, embarrassing, senile-relativish non-sequitur, like the mill: a millstone.
           They, in the Etobicoke LACAC, were naifs who bit the bait, rolled over, played dead. Or perhaps they weren't such naifs...


back to page 3
prologue    zero    press
December 26, 2000      1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9
to be continued... 2002    
glossary    notes    links   
onwards to page 5

 

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omnitecturalforum

PICS        Before...
old mill old pic 1  old mill old pic 2
old mill old pic 3  old mill old pic 4
old mill old pic 5  old mill old pic 6
old mill old pic 7  old mill old pic 8
...& Aug. 2001
old mill new pic 1  old mill new pic 2
old mill new pic 3  old mill new pic 4
old mill new pic 5  old mill new pic 6
powered by
i*d*i*o*t*s
®
can't call it
Watergate
       

 

" How do I do a film called
'The Old Mill'
...when i don't have
an old mill?
"

 

cannibal kitsch

 

birth of a folly
1848-1975        
pathogen
just part of
the scenery
1975-1990

 

de-ruin

 

Etobicoke's
"heritage community"
was a vacuum,
a nullity, a dead zone
Old
33 1/3 years later,
Trashmore
wasn't looking like
such a barren
lump anymore...

 

On one thing
everyone agrees:
the mill is
finally "
finished "

 

...it's like
Mitch Miller

vanquishing
rock'n'roll!
ruinousness
Petersdorff
dept. store:

think of
Carson Pirie Scott
transfused
with a little
Mazda zoom-zoom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

millstone