August, 28, 2019
To: Murray Clark, Acting CAO, Bruce County
From: Diane Huber
Dear Mr. Clark, I hope you will provide each member of County Council with a copy of my comments included below. Thank you.
Re: The Anglican Church Manse, the potential for Museum/Archive expansion and the location of the Nuclear Innovation Institute
To: Mayor Buckle, Mayor Charbonneau, Mayor Eadie, Mayor Hammell, Mayor Jackson, Mayor McIvor, Mayor Peabody and Mayor Twolan.
My immediate reaction to the media reports concerning a recent County Council motion/vote was surprise – surprise that the motion was even on the table and greater surprise that the vote was so close. Channelling that incredible nautical spirit evident, not only in Southampton’s past but it’s present and our future, I want to encourage each of you to “stay the course” and continue to further all three aspects: the expansion of the Museum/Archives southerly from the existing complex; the demolition of the former Anglican Church Manse; and, the potential for partnership activity with the Nuclear Innovation Institute (NII) at this location. I also believe it is very important to continue with the lawsuit as I believe that the purchase of the land is a positive use of Bruce Krug’s estate endowment representing, quite well, many of his interests while supporting his obvious desire to provide for greater opportunities within the Archives function of the County.
Some of you will know that I was a member of the Saugeen Shores Council for three terms and, for much of that time, I was on the Municipal Heritage Committee. I have also served on the local Planning Advisory Committee and Committee of Adjustment – for a few years as a citizen appointed member and then as a Council member.
Like many, many others in the community, who support the County’s purchase of the property and the potential for the NII to be located here in partnership with an Archives expansion, I have deep roots in Southampton. Huber(s) have been here since 1895 when my Great Grandfather came here as a train engineer. Since the mid-1930’s Huber(s) have lived on Palmerston Street, a block south and a half block west of the Anglican Manse property, well within any kind of radius that one might consider to be the “neighbourhood” boundaries of the manse property. My Dad still lives in the house he was born in – in 1935. I lived on this street until I went to university (to study public administration and planning) and came back here full-time in 2003 after a 20 year career in university marketing and administration. This is a fabulous neighbourhood that represents the absolute best of Southampton life. It’s full of life: public and private ownership; commercial, cultural, institutional, recreational, healthcare and residential uses; open space and lots filled to the limit; natural and urban spaces; demographic variety; and, a constant, but never the same, energy from activity, in and out of buildings. The corner of Victoria and High Streets is truly a hub worth enhancing as not only the east gateway to downtown Southampton but as a location that is at the heartbeat of so much other activity.
I suggested as a member of the Saugeen Shores Council, on more than a few occasions, that if the Manse property ever came up for sale that the Town should purchase the land immediately. That property is surrounded by community activity (churches, museum and parkland) and it just makes sense that it should also be community space, in some capacity, rather than a private residence. I felt it would be advantageous for the Town of Saugeen Shores to procure this property so that a much more attractive, accessible access to Fairy Lake could be realized along with significant improvements to public amenity offerings at that park (i.e. perhaps a washroom facility). Like many who fully support the Archive expansion and the potential for the NII here in Southampton, I didn’t love the concept drawings presented at the meetings last year but I could see the incredible opportunity that was there for something amazing to be built and for incredible opportunities to be a result of the effort.
I regret that the Saugeen Shores Council did not speak loudly in support of the ‘idea’ at the time. I regret that all of us let a few, a VERY few, people get away with their antics and, in my opinion, ill-informed and selfish objections. This property should be developed for ‘public’ use and I am glad that the County now owns it.
I’m not just a Huber however … I have some Krug blood in me too. I’m a direct descendant of a Chesley Krug – not Bruce Krug, as he has no direct descendants – but Helen Krug was my Mom. Like Bruce, my Mom was in Chesley because members of the Krug family moved there in late 1800’s from the Listowel area. She grew up with Bruce. Both of my grandparents worked at the Krug factory and my grandmother also regularly went with Bruce (and Howard) to band birds throughout Bruce County. I so wish my Mom was still alive or Jim Siegrist (Bruce’s nephew) as I think they might offer interesting perspectives on what Bruce might have thought about the land purchase, the Archives expansion and the NII potential.
I know that the Krug brothers (and brother-in-law), who originally started making furniture in Chesley, were constantly upgrading the factory and adding new product lines – a legacy that Bruce and Howard continued. They embraced new developments and technology while respecting the tremendous value of past experience and outcomes without letting that appreciation of the past hold them back from welcoming the future. Bruce was supportive of the Archives. The Archives quite literally is the historical record, the stories, the photos and the artifacts of the County.
I’m sure Bruce appreciated heritage buildings (he lived in one) but I think his legacy donation was more about providing opportunity to better “keep” and “share” materials that are the Archives. The keeping aspect requires proper spaces and knowledgeable staff to attend to the space. The sharing requires access to the materials via digital or in-person use which subsequently requires the right equipment to process/present materials and the right environment to encourage public use. A purpose built addition along with the energy of activity in the building beyond the Archival function, in my opinion, would definitely provide opportunities for better keeping and sharing. Personally, I think Bruce would be quite enthusiastic about the addition.
The manse is not on the Saugeen Shores Heritage Register. The manse is not designated under the Ontario Heritage Act. In fact, the Anglican Church hadn’t used it as their manse for a number of years. I believe it was empty for awhile prior to being rented. It makes complete sense to me that it was surplus to the functioning of the Church and that they decided to sell the property. There is definitely heritage value inherent in ‘old’ buildings however, I would suggest that there is a much greater value, at times, to what will become rather than what was. This is one of those times and I believe you should embrace it fully and make it happen. As I said, I would have liked to have seen the Town of Saugeen Shores purchase it but I am glad that the County procured it in the end, rather than a private purchaser.
I, and many others, “get” heritage and am quite fond of old buildings but I believe the result of tearing down the manse lets us contribute positively and wonderfully to this generation’s legacy of future heritage buildings. This is an ideal place to expand the Archives. This is an ideal place to partner with the NII to create an addition of significance both architecturally and in terms of multi-use space options. This is an ideal place to work with the Town of Saugeen Shores to improve public access and enjoyment of the gem to the east – Fairy Lake. This is an ideal place to represent that the County of Bruce is truly an explorer and a leader through the development of a campus where people can get together to learn and think and do. This is an ideal place and this is an ideal time.
The corner of High and Victoria is a perfect location for a significant public installation. It’s a perfect place to reflect so many aspects of the current character of Bruce County while taking advantage of the Southampton ‘stuff’ that is evident in all four directions from the site. There’s two parks providing open spaces and natural areas. There are (at least) six ‘hall’ like spaces available in other buildings (GC Huston, Town Hall, Fire Hall, three Churches) to realize the campus vision sooner rather than later. There is a downtown with restaurants and other distractions within walking distance.
There is also the reality that this a central location within the County enabling reasonable access from all each municipality. This significant installation will be better served by an opportunity to develop the site wholly without regard for working around any existing structure but with regard to preserving trees if at all possible and with expanding the public’s access to space adjacent to the pedestrian trail around Fairy Lake.
Please don’t let the extremely limited interests of a very small association of people impede the tremendous potential that this project has to provide needed space for Archival activities, partnership possibilities with the NII and the creation of an even more significant Museum site as to public uses and civic pride. I believe the lawsuit is without merit and that the Court decision will reflect that. I believe that when the manse building is removed and replaced that the vast majority of local and County residents will be quite satisfied with the result. I know many of us are extremely excited about this opportunity for both Archival expansion and for the NII to be located in Southampton. I appreciate that you’ve read this far and will hope that your leadership will lead to an amazing legacy installation in Southampton within the next couple of years.
Diane Huber, Southampton