The last Southam house

The last Southam house

For the Victoria Day edition of the Toronto Star, I wrote about keeping Chedoke estate public — and the lost opportunities, including for significant revenue, that can result from privatizing it.

Update: Featured in the June edition of ACORN in a Nutshell: The Newsletter of Architectural Conservancy Ontario.

Also known as Balfour House, Chedoke is an 1830s escarpment estate owned by the Ontario Heritage Trust and managed by the City of Hamilton. On May 25th, councillors appear set to ratify a proposal to lease it for private use — effectively, to privatize Chedoke through a long-term lease. The bidder would get Chedoke rent-free. Public access would be restricted to weekdays before 4 p.m., until 2039.

As I argue in the Star, for such an incredible potential visitors’ attraction, privatizing Chedoke would also be a missed opportunity in terms of foregone revenue. Initial calculations suggest that this property could generate significantly more revenue for the city and taxpayers as an event space. By comparison, Enoch Turner Schoolhouse, another trust-owned property, can generate about $1.5M in event revenue — equivalent to the Chedoke bidder’s total, 17-year investment — in just one year of wedding rentals.

Read more in the May 23rd print edition of the Toronto Star, or in the online edition: “Everyone deserves access to our Ontario Heritage Trust properties. Let’s keep Chedoke public

With thanks to Paul Wilson, Joe Howell, Scott Colby, Local History & Archives, Hamilton Public Library, Architectural Conservancy Ontario Hamilton Region Branch, and Doors Open Ontario / the Ontario Heritage Trust.

Chedoke estate (1 Balfour Dr.) seen in 2022. Photo: John Rennison.

Star print edition: “Access for all to heritage properties” (May 23, 2022, A13) | online: “Everyone deserves access to our Ontario Heritage Trust properties. Let’s keep Chedoke public

Photos, Doors Open video, and additional coverage

On May 18th, I spoke before Hamilton city councillors about the importance of Chedoke as a publicly owned heritage site. (View my slides.)

Teviah Moro wrote about it in the long weekend edition of the Hamilton Spectator. Spec print edition: Teviah Moro, “City firms up deal for Balfour Estate,” Saturday, May 21, 2022, A6 | online: “Hamilton council firms up $1.5M deal with Cardus for Balfour Estate. Danko argues unique office space could have fetched twice as much

Image: Doors Open Ontario.
Photo: Doors Open Ontario.
LHA 32022189118835 1890s
Chedoke Falls, ca. 1890s. Photo: Frederick Lyonde. Image: Local History & Archives, Hamilton Public Library.
Portrait of St. Clair Balfour III, 1979. Photo: Bob Olsen. Image: Toronto Star Photograph Archive, Toronto Public Library.

Photos: Gary Yokoyama, John Rennison, Frederick Lyonde, Bob Olsen, and Doors Open Ontario. Video: InwardOutProductions for ACO Hamilton / Digital Doors Open Ontario 2021.

The entrance gates to Chedoke Estate. Photo: John Rennison.
The main house and the carriage house, right, of Chedoke Estate. Photo: John Rennison.
A main floor living room in Chedoke Estate. Photo: John Rennison.
The main bathroom on the second floor of the Balfour Estate. The toilet was located in a second tiny room with an entrance from the hallway or the bathroom.
The main bathroom on the second floor of the Balfour Estate. Photo: John Rennison.
The original bells for the phone first installed in Chedoke Estate. Photo: John Rennison.
A view of the sweeping front yard of Chedoke Estate. Photo: John Rennison.
A Chedoke name plate with the year 1837 on one of the gate columns leading into the property of Chedoke Estate. Photo: John Rennison.

The Toronto Star (est. 1892) is published by Daily News Brands, a division of Torstar.

Toronto Star Monday May 23, 2022 front page with headline "Fast and furious"

The Toronto Star | read online | read at TheSpec.com | read in print

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