History in the Shadows: Lester B Pearson's Childhood Home in Davisville
Heritage status is a hotly contested topic in our city, and our Midtown neighbourhood no stranger to public discussion surrounding preservation vs. development.
Last year, the TD Bank at Yonge and Millwood was temporarily made into a condo show centre for the new J. Davis House Condos. Hope that the structure would somehow factor into the plans for the building, like the famous post office at Yonge and Eglinton, were dashed when the building swiftly came down, clearing the way for construction to begin.
One case that has blurred the lines of what it means to deserve heritage status was the home of former Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, located at 1984 Yonge Street (between Imperial St. and Glebe Rd., on Yonge).
You wouldn't know it to walk by, as there is no sign or indication that the building holds any cultural significance, but the building was home to Pearson for the first three years of his life.
In an interview with CBC News, Program Manager for the city's heritage preservation services Tamara Anson-Cartwright explained the main reason why the building was not included on the heritage status registry: "[The building has] been altered too much over time."
Anson-Cartwright's city report from June 2017 indicated that the building does not qualify for status because it "does not meet Ontario Regulation 9/06." This regulation lays out ways in which buildings should be considered for heritage status based on design, historical or contextual value:
"While this associative connection to the Prime Minister of Canada is of historical interest, the physical integrity of the property to support cultural heritage value according to provincial criteria no longer exists due to the alterations to the front elevation of the building, the removal of the adjoining semi-detached house that was its mirror image, and the changes to its historical context and setting."
Although it's difficult to make any sort of counter argument for the merits of the building itself, there is still a drive to mark the location with some kind of memorial plaque or sign once the building is replaced with a new eight-story building. The proposed new building (still under review) will be a mix of retail, office and residential space.