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Update confirms historic research data, paves way for house demolition

by Mike Robinson

ELORA - The house at 645 Perry Street in Fergus will be demolished to make way for two new homes.

On July 23, Centre Wellington council was updated on the structure’s demolition notice.

The notice was deferred from the June 25 session to allow staff and the heritage committee time to review historic research following comments made by Carol Williams.

Senior planner Mariana Iglesias said a demolition request was made by the current owner.

Iglesias said further research confirmed Henry Ing never owned the lot where the structure at 645 Perry Street is located. She added it is unlikely Ing ever lived there.

Iglesias added that both Ing and his wife were born and married in England in 1855. The couple emigrated to Canada in 1871.

Regarding claims that Ing was a servant of James Perry in the 1830s or 1840s, Iglesias indicated that was unlikely, as he did not arrive in Canada until the 1870s.

Iglesias added that after a brief time living in Toronto, the Ing family came to Fergus, but only lived here for a few years before moving on to Hamilton.

During his time in Fergus, Ing was listed as a machinist and had purchased lots 58 and 59 from James Perry.

“They were not given the lots,” Iglesias stressed.

Nor was it lot 60, where the house is located.

She stated there are no records that Ing was a servant of Perry - or that his wife was of part-Native ancestry.

Iglesias said records indicated the house was built in the 1870s.

“There is no historical significance to any of the house owners listed on title,” said Iglesias, adding the current owner retained a heritage structural engineer from Tacoma Engineers.

He confirmed the structure is not constructed of log or slab wood.

In summary, Iglesias said there is no conclusive evidence that Henry Ing or his family ever lived in the house at 645 Perry Street or were servants of the James Perry family.

She added there is also no record of First Nations ancestry or activity linked to the existing structure.

She agreed all of the lands in the general vicinity are known to have historically been used by First Nations peoples.

“However, the subject property is not more significantly linked to this historical theme than any other property in the Woodside survey in this respect,” she stated.

After a review of the delegation’s material and additional research provided by the county archives, staff confirmed its original recommendation that the structure should be documented and permitted to be demolished, as the criteria for determining cultural heritage value and/or interest is not sufficient to warrant designation.

Iglesias added staff and Heritage Centre Wellington recommend the owner salvage and re-use as much original material as possible in order to divert it from landfill.

Staff also asked that the owner provide full photo documentation for archival purposes prior to demolition.

Despite the absence of evidence to warrant heritage designation, on July 23 Williams again asked council to reconsider demolition of the structure.

She contended the house might be a good fit for a young family who might not be able to afford a new home.

“To tear this house down is not only smearing the environmental footprint, it is an awful a waste of material,” she said.

Williams said she does not believe the community should be locked into the “grow, grow” trend, adding more important aspects to consider include affordable housing.

She said the haste in granting demolition permits is questionable and suggested, “Perhaps after the election this can be reviewed.”

Williams maintained the evidence exists to prove her arguments, though it was not with her that night.

She said even if council allows demolition, she intends to forward her information to them.

She contended there is more than one James Perry and Henry Ing, which has led to the confusion.

Williams also suggested current lot boundaries may be in error.

She added a surveyor she spoke to said it was quite common for lot numbers to change.

Further, Williams maintained James Perry was a man of influence in early Fergus. She also maintained that because of the layout of the basement, there was a structure there in the 1830s, even if it was replaced later.

Williams contended that prior to any excavations, the First Nations must be allowed a full geological assessment.

“In conclusion, I ask you to save what I and others believe to be an important part of Fergus history,” she said.

She also asked that a geological survey be undertaken prior to a demolition permit being issued. This would give time for further evidence to be revealed, she said.

The property owner said his intention in purchasing the property is to be able to have two properties side-by-side to allow construction of homes for his sister-in-law, who needs a home dialysis machine, and his mother-in-law, who is getting older.

Council authorized the demolition of the structure at 645 Perry Street and its removal from the list of heritage structures in Centre Wellington.

August 10, 2018


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