This year, with the familiar landscapes of Kitchener/Waterloo transforming themselves before our very eyes, the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, North Waterloo Region branch (ACONWR) has chosen to reflect on CITY BUILDING in its annual lecture series. In our first lecture we examined the role played by planning and urban design as we traced the growth and development of our twin cities from small villages to thriving urban communities.

In the second lecture of the series, Cecelia Paine, Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Guelph’s School of Environmental Design, will discuss the role of the landscape architect in city building.

The lecture will take place on Thursday, March 8th at the offices of WalterFedy, 675 Queen Street South, Kitchener beginning at 7pm. Additional details and registration are available at Eventbrite.

Landscape architects have played a significant role in the design of Canadian cities, though their work is not as well-recognized as that of other disciplines. Paine’s presentation will trace landscape architects’ contributions to city building, from the restorative landscape movement in the late 1800s to current work that embodies such themes as cultural identity and landscape resiliency. Revealed is a picture of how landscape architects have shaped the character and diversity of Canada’s urban landscapes.

Cecelia Paine teaches community design, urban park and open space planning, and professional practice in her position at the University of Guelph. Her academic interests focus particularly on heritage landscape conservation. Prior to joining her colleagues in Guelph, Paine practiced in Ottawa where her firm specialized in heritage conservation and urban design. She recently completed an assessment of the cultural heritage resources of the Cootes to Niagara Eco-Park. Paine is a board member of the Landscape Architecture Canada Foundation and the National Capital Commission’s Advisory Committee on Planning, Design and Real Estate.

Mark Thursday, May 10th on your calendar for the third of ACO’s lecture series when Dr Luna Khirfan of the University of Waterloo explores the relationship between public engagement, place making and place experience in the urban conservation of three Middle Eastern cities on the World Heritage List.

Below are some of the past events that

ACO North Waterloo Branch has held in the past two years…





The North Waterloo Branch of the Architectural Conservancy Ontario (ACO) will once again host a series of three educational lectures open to the public.  The City Building Lecture Series will examine the role played by planning, urban design and landscape architecture in the 3-dimensional development of our communities while still encouraging the preservation of our built heritage.

The first lecture coincides with World Town Planning Day, an international event celebrating the accomplishments of planners and their contributions to communities.

Lecture 1: November 9

7 pm

Designing our Neighborhoods: Trends and Influences over 150 Years

Glenn Scheels,  MCIP, RPP Principal Planner,  GSP Group

Waterloo Region has grown from a scattering of small villages to one of Canada’s largest and most vibrant urban areas. A strong economy has propelled significant growth and the urban area has many neighborhoods built in different eras over the past 150 years. This lecture will provide an overview of town planning and the various planning, design and urban development movements that influenced and shaped our neighborhoods in Kitchener and Waterloo.

All lectures will be held at the WalterFedy Building

675 Queen Street South, Kitchener, Ontario














Admission is free to members, $8.50 to non-members.

Memberships available at the door.

Please register at Eventbrite.

For more details, click here







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North Waterloo Region Branch


in partnership with Princess Cinemas a film series dedicated to




This inspirational documentary chronicles urban activist Jane Jacobs battle to save historic NYC neighborhoods from the draconian plans of ruthless powerbroker Robert Moses in the 1960s. This iconic film launches ACO’s lecture series on City Building



This engaging portrait of a visionary man takes us to the heart of his ideas. Dutch architect, theorist, and urbanist, Koolhaas’ habit of shaking up established conventions has made him one of the most controversial and influential architects.



Using 50,000 archival documents, the full story of the white-knuckled countdown to the grand opening April 28, 1967 can be relived through this fascinating documentary.

7:30pm (note time change)


Commissioned by Jim Stewart, the most published mathematician since Euclid, the fabulous Rosedale mansion known as Integral House incorporates a concert hall in its design. The architects of this acknowledged masterpiece are Shim and Sutcliffe, UWaterloo ’83 graduates



Doors Open Waterloo Region

Doors Open Waterloo Region has several talks scheduled for Saturday, September 16th.  Details of each talk are below and pdf files are attached.

Details of all Doors Open events can be found at the Waterloo Doors Open websites:

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1. Attractors

Location: University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy
10-A Victoria St. S., Kitchener
Free Doors Open Parking: UW Lot 3 (enter from Joseph St.)

2 p.m. TALK

Siamak Hariri, Founding Partner of Hariri Pontarini Architects and Partner-in-Charge of the University of Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy design, will discuss how the firm partners with clients in their aspirations, leveraging the transformative power of collaboration and design: the ability of design to shift the perception of what an institution is and wants to be. Every project is a narrative; the unfolding, in architectural form, of the history and values of its client. By channeling the finest aspects – the very soul – of each institution into architectural form, we leverage the power of design to transform, to attract, and to uplift.

Seating for 80; open seating

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2. 60 Years at Waterloo: Perspectives of a University, from a Corn Field to Architectural Traditions

Location: University of Waterloo Dana Porter Library
200 University Ave. W., Waterloo
Free Doors Open parking: UW Lot HV on UW Ring Road (see map) or UW Lots at St. Jerome’s UC and Renison UC (enter from Westmount Rd.)

1 p.m. TALK

In this illustrated talk, Ken McLaughlin, distinguished professor emeritus and Waterloo’s official historian, will tell the story of the development of the 1,000-acre University of Waterloo campus, and its impact in Waterloo and beyond.

In the Dana Porter Library Flex Lab (floor 3); seating for 50; open seating.

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3. Iconography: Windows into Heaven

Location: Holy Transfiguration Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church

131 Victoria St. S., Kitchener

2 p.m. TALK

Discover the rich meaning of Byzantine iconography, using as illustration the iconography of Holy Transfiguration Church, during this talk by Fr. Myroslaw Tataryn, theologian, professor, and Department of Religious Studies Chair at St. Jerome’s University, Waterloo. You will be introduced to this ancient medium, often termed “theology in colour”, which adorns the walls, ceiling, and beautiful iconostasis of the church.

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4.  Life in the Detweiler Neighbourhood 150 Years Ago

Location: Detweiler Meetinghouse
3445 Roseville Rd., Roseville

11 a.m. TALK

Gather meetinghouse-style on the Detweiler benches as they did 150 years ago, and hear historian and author Sam Steiner’s overview of life and faith among the Mennonite settlers in this part of Waterloo Region. Followed by a Q&A session. Illustrated books covering much of this history will be for sale at the book table. 

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5. The Grand and the Land Indigenous History in this Place
Location: Button Factory Arts
25 Regina St. S., Waterloo
3 pm
Phil Monture of Six Nations of the Grand River, spokesperson and professional researcher  with 40 years of experience on the topics of treaties  and land issues, will provide an illustrated overview of the long history of land use in this region  and the larger Grand River watershed,  and also of the land transactions involving  Indigenous Peoples, the Crown, and later settlers.  In his ongoing research and advocacy,  Phil has worked with the Canadian International Development Agency, the Ontario Government,  the Canadian Government, the Assembly  of First Nations, and the United Nations.

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6. The Importance  of Meditation
Location: Ram Dham Hindu Temple and Brahmvidya Yogashram
525 Bridge St. E., Kitchener

11:00 am
Explore the theory and the practice of meditation, with its long tradition in South Asian culture as your context, and Swami Haripriya, a priest at Ram Dham Hindu temple, as your guide.  An opening 30-minute talk will be followed by a guided 15-minute meditation session.
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Designing for Education – Lecture #2


Tuesday March 21, 2017

7 p.m.

 WalterFedy, 675 Queen St. S., Kitchener 

FREE for ACO members, $8.50 for non-members.  Join ACO here.

Please pre-register at Or call 519-635-8951.

The second event in the Architectural Conservancy Ontario – North Waterloo Region’s series on the history of school architecture in Waterloo Region consists of two short lectures:

“The One Room Schoolhouse and Beyond: The Work of the Knechtel Firm 1890 – 1930” by Susan Burke
For much of the 19th century, the one room school house played a vital role in the life of Ontario’s rural communities. Change when it came, was slow, much to the chagrin of the passionate cleric, Egerton Ryerson who, as Superintendent of Education, was bent on reform. The schoolhouse designs of this Berlin/Kitchener firm over forty years reveal the gradual implementation of the provincial standards and reflect advances in technology and pedagogical thought and in social change.

“The Modern Schoolhouse: Post-war Growth and Change in Waterloo Region” an all new talk by Rick Haldenby
The education system in Ontario changed dramatically after the Second World War. The population and the economy expanded dramatically. It was clear we needed a highly educated workforce. Cities across the province embarked on a dramatic expansion of their facilities for all levels of education. In our area the expansion was the most dramatic: dozens of new schools were built. Their designs reflected new ideas in architecture and education: some were aggressively modern, some looked back to the traditions of the past and integrated them in hybrid forms. All were designed by local architects. They were of high quality and remain with us today.

Refreshments will be served.

Evolving Urban Landscapes: A Photographic Memoir

Sunday October 16, 2016

Book Launch

1:30 – 3:30 pm, remarks by the artist at 2 pm

Joseph Schneider Haus National Historic Site

466 Queen St. S., Kitchener

Book launch includes free admission to museum, refreshments

*ACO members present at the launch get $5 off normal $40 retail price.

cover of Evolving Urban Landscapes by Philippe Elsworthy

      * 74 images which depict the elements that make Waterloo Region’s urban landscape unique

      * perfect for newcomers, people considering a move to the Region, long-time or former residents

for more information contact the publisher, The Fountain Street Press


Saturday, September 19th, 2015
10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Play On: Sports Past, Present, and Future


As the lazy days of summer quickly draw to a close, thoughts begin to turn to the fall and the various community activities that mark the annual changing of the seasons.   From an architectural and heritage perspective, the most significant of such is DOORS OPEN WATERLOO REGION. This free annual showcase highlights interesting places and heritage sites throughout Waterloo Region, many of which are not regularly open to the public.

This year’s Doors Open – the 12th annual for our community – occurs on Saturday, September 19th, 2015 and runs from 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM. In 2015, Doors Open events across Ontario are celebrating sports. Community clubs, legendary venues, professional teams, and innovative facilities will be the focus at 10 sport-themed sites here in Waterloo Region. Another 30 sites (40 in total) of cultural and heritage interest will also be open to the public, including the former Waterloo County Court House wherein the North Waterloo Region Branch of the ACO will be staffing a display. Built in 1964 and renovated in 2014/15, this unique facility, originally designed by Snider, Huget, and March Architects and Engineers, is a notable example of modern architecture. Many will recall the insightful presentation that was delivered by Professor Rick Haldenby, former Director of the UW School of Architecture, on the subject of modern architecture at our 2015 Annual General Meeting.

While DOORS OPEN WATERLOO REGION is fortunate to benefit from a number of sponsors and partners, volunteers are still required to help set-up and staff displays. Accordingly, we would kindly welcome the volunteer contributions of any members available on the 19th. Whether you just have an hour of free time, or could participate for the entire day, we would greatly appreciate your assistance.

For more information on DOORS OPEN WATERLOO REGION please see:

To volunteer at the ACO-NWRB display or for further information, please contact one of the following two Executive Committee members:

Peter Walberg (Secretary) Email:
Catherine Eby (Membership Coordinator) Email:

Fate of Sacred Heart Convent hangs in the balance April 13

Sacred Heart Convent, 79 Moore Avenue, KitchenerThe fate of the Sacred Heart Convent at Shanley and Moore Streets, Kitchener  hangs in the balance Monday night, April 13, 2015.


Kitchener Council will decide whether or not to save it from demolition, by designating it as being of cultural heritage value and interest.

The Roman Catholic Hamilton Diocese wants to demolish the building to reduce its building maintenance costs and create a 20-space parking lot.

Kitchener Heritage Planners contacted the Region of Waterloo Director of Housing to see if there was interest in adaptively re-using the convent as affordable housing.  The Region’s favourable and encouraging response was passed on to the Diocese, but the Diocese has refused to withdraw the application for demolition.

Unless Kitchener City Council moves to designate  Sacred Heart church buildings on the property, the Diocese will be legally entitled to demolish the building on May 8, 2015.

  Monday night’s council meeting is important

7 p.m., Kitchener City Hall, 200 King Street West, Kitchener


There are several ways you can help.

  • Come to Kitchener Council on Monday night and speak in favour of designating the Sacred Heart Church buildings – convent, rectory, former pastor house, residential building and the church itself. Email Rita Delaney or come to City Hall by 6:45 p.m.
  • Share some stories or facts that support its
  • physical or design value —  g. representative of a particular style, material or construction method; displays a high degree of craftsmanship or artistic merit.  The convent was designed by architect John Macleod Watt, author of over 60 large/public buildings, from Windsor’s Church of the Ascension to London’s McCormick Biscuit Factory to Kitchener’s St. Mary’s Hospital.
  • historical or associative value — e.g. direct associations with a belief, activity, organization or institution that is significant to the community;  yields information that contributes to the understanding of a community; demonstrates the work of a particular architect or builder, e.g. information about the importance of Sacred Heart Church to the Polish community.
  • contextual value — e.g. Is important in defining, maintaining or supporting the character of an area; is physically, functionally, visually or historically linked to its surroundings; is a landmark.
  • Email the Kitchener Mayor and Councillors about your concerns.
photo of the interior of Sacred Heart Church, Shanley Street, Kitchener
Interior of Sacred Heart Church, 66 Shanley Street, Kitchener. Polish Heritage Canada photo.

Reduce Emissions: stop demolishing heritage buildings – adapt, retrofit and reuse them instead

Figure 4 of Ontario’s Climate Change Discussion Paper shows that the waste, transportation and building sectors  all showed increased emissions.  To stop this, ACO North Waterloo Region believes that Ontario’s climate change strategy should include measures which recognize the very positive environmental impact of conserving and retrofitting heritage buildings.

We strongly advocate that measures be taken to stop demolishing heritage buildings — adapt, retrofit and reuse them instead.

 There is strong evidence to show this will reduce emissions.

chart showing number of years it takes for a new energy efficient building to overcome the negative environmental impacts of construction and demolition of the heritage building it replaced

A 2012 study by the Preservation Green Lab of Washington’s National Trust for Historic Preservation showed that if old (heritage) buildings were demolished and replaced with new buildings, even highly energy efficient buildings, it would take between 10 and 80 years for the environmental assaults suffered in the new construction to be overcome by the higher operating efficiency of the new  buildings.[1]

The study looked at seven different building types, including commercial offices, single and multi-family homes, urban village mixed use, schools, and warehouse conversions.  It did Life Cycle Analyses of the emissions and other environmental impacts of retrofitting an existing heritage building  vs. building a new building of the same dimensions.  It did this in four climate areas: Chicago, Portland, Atlanta and Phoenix, a total of 28 different comparative studies.

Considering Ontario’s 2020 target date, and leaving aside conversions of warehouses to luxury living spaces, there was not a single case where it’s better for our climate and environment to replace old buildings with new, highly energy-efficient ones of a similar size.

The negative climate change effects come from the impacts of demolition (e.g. energy to destroy and truck to landfills) and from the manufacture and transportation of replacement raw materials and building components.

So, we need measures which discourage the demolition of heritage buildings:

  1. require Life Cycle Assessments to be part of all new construction proposals;
  2. require proof that demolition is necessary (reversing the current assumption that older and vacant buildings should be destroyed, where the onus is on heritage advocates to prove such buildings should be kept);
  3. prohibit property tax reduction for vacant premises;
  4. introduce a special Carbon Demolition Tax: a tipping fee at landfills that puts a high surcharge on waste materials from demolitions where there is no plan to replace the destroyed building with a structure that is demonstrably more energy efficient (this might slow down the demo of serviceable structures where the lot is then left empty);
  5. require recycling of building materials – bricks, timber, glass.

“The greenest building is the one already built”

 – Submitted March 23 to Ontario Climate Change Strategy Consultation

 If you like our submission, please vote it up.

[1] Preservation Green Lab.  The Greenest Building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse. Washington, D.C.: National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2012.  Available from Internet: 

Holding on to the past while building for the future

By James Jackson,  reprinted from Waterloo Chronicle,  February 4, 2015 .        Photos: P. Elsworthy

As the City of Waterloo prepares its strategic plan for the next four years of council, a local heritage group has suggested ways that guiding document can protect the city’s past while building for the future.

In a presentation to council last week, Melissa Davies, an executive member of the North Waterloo Branch of the Architecture Conservancy of Ontario (ACO), outlined four ways the city can include heritage in its vision.

Her suggestions included designating or listing more heritage buildings or creating more heritage conservation districts, taking steps to prevent demolition by neglect, considering the creation of Cultural Heritage Landscapes and extending the current heritage planner contract job to a permanent position.

Designed by Kruschen & Dailey Architects and Engineers, considered "one of the gems of mid-20th-century Waterloo Region architecture" .  Was one of eight local buildings featured in the ReMade: Post War Cities exhibit in the Building Waterloo Region festival of architecture and design, July-September 2014.
Potential Designated Heritage Landmark: Waterloo Lutheran Seminary. Designed by Kruschen & Dailey Architects and Engineers, considered “one of the gems of mid-20th-century Waterloo Region architecture” . 

Once the budget is passed on Feb. 9, staff and council will set their sights on developing their strategic plan to help direct future decisions.

“Heritage is a big part of what makes a community unique,” said Davies. “Historic places and heritage buildings are fundamental to our sense of history, community and identity.”

Established in 1933, the North Waterloo Branch of the ACO covers the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo, along with the Townships of Wellesley, Wilmot and Woolwich. The group provides walking tours of important heritage structures in the city and campaigns for the preservation of heritage sites.

In 2013, the group advocated for the former St. Louis Catholic School, built in 1905, to be designated a heritage site given its history as the city’s first Catholic school. The city included the school on its list of non-designated properties of cultural heritage value that May.

Davies said the first suggestion — to list more buildings on the municipal heritage register — was an important step to protect the city’s heritage buildings, particularly those in the uptown core, from demolition by developers.

Brick Brewery 181 King St S Waterloo Music 3 Regina St N

Two of Uptown’s few remaining industrial buildings: (left) the 1899 addition to the  Hoffman, Wegenast & Co. furniture factory which became the home of Ontario’s first craft micro-brewery; (right)  former home of Waterloo Music Company founded in 1922 by Charles F. Thiele.


“Designating a building doesn’t freeze it in time, the property and the building itself can (still) be altered once it’s designated,” said Davies. Designation gives the city more time to consider a demolition or alteration request. Waterloo currently has 41 individually designated properties on its register. In 2014, no buildings were added to the list but the city’s heritage committee said it hopes to designate four in 2015.

The city also has one Heritage Conservation District with more than 100 properties, the MacGregor-Albert neighbourhood, which came into effect in 2008. Cultural Heritage Landscapes are similar to these heritage districts but also take into account the surrounding natural environment.

The ACO also has concerns with so-called demolition by neglect, whereby property owners allow buildings to fall into disrepair in order to make a demolition request more likely.

Wegenast house 217 King St S
George Wegenast House, 217 King St S, Waterloo. One-of -a-kind example of Queen Anne house with elaborate applied ornamentation on its wooden gables. First story brick, second storey wooden siding, with shingle siding in the gables. Currently in danger of demolition by neglect. Boarded up in a manner which does not meet Waterloo’s property standards bylaw.

Davies cited the recent demolition of the Charles Moogk home at the corner of Bridgeport Road and Regina Street last fell as an example. It fell into disrepair following a fire in 2011 and was demolished last fall.

“Several municipalities throughout the province have implemented heritage property standards as an amendment to their property standards bylaw. These standards ensure that conservation and maintenance of designated heritage buildings,” Davies said. She also encouraged council take back its ability to approve demolition in the city, a duty delegated to staff in early 2013.

Davies also urged the city to make the position of heritage planner a permanent job. The two-year contract position, currently held by Michelle Lee, expires at the end of this year.

“By making this position permanent the city can ensure that any plans laid out this year are accomplished,” she said, adding a permanent staff person would relieve the added costs associated with hiring external heritage consultants once the contract with Lee expires.

“Yes, the City of Waterloo has a bright future, but it will not be as meaningful if we do not honour its past or its heritage,” Davies said.

More information about the city’s new strategic plan is available online,