On second anniversary of Alma fire, it’s time for province to protect our past

Alma fire, May 28, 2008

Dear MPP’s,
Today marks 2 years to the day that we lost beautiful & historic Alma College,in St.Thomas,Ont.Sadly nothing has been done on the property to preserve and protect the 2 remaining structures and outdoor amphi-theatre.On Wed May 28th,2008 a fire brought down this magnificent structure,after former culture minister Aileen Carroll turned a blind eye to the neglect and destruction,that continued on a daily basis.
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Ontario Culture Minister Aileen Carroll Dumped After Ministry’s Mistreatment of Artefacts

Culture Minister Aileen Carroll

Posted by Ian: Perhaps one of the most reviled cabinet ministers in this area, Aileen Carroll was known for what she didn’t do … protect and promote this province’s cultural heritage. In St. Thomas we have to look no further that the remains of Alma College. The rubble is a testament to her indifference. Here’s the official word on her demotion …

Ontario’s Minister of Culture, Aileen Carroll, was tossed out of cabinet today as part of a larger shuffle. She will now become a backbench member of the legislature.
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George Smitherman cares about St. Thomas heritage, why doesn’t Aileen Carroll?

On November 28th,2009 it will have been 18 long months since we lost beautiful and historic Alma College in St.Thomas,Ontario.In this time many letters and e-mails have been sent to you requesting 96 Moore Street be given Provincial Heritage Designation.The property alone is deserving of the honor,however since 2 of the original buildings are still standing,along with the outdoor amphi-theatre,its only fitting that after close to 130 years of service Alma College gave to our province,the only right thing to do,would be to honor what remains,so future generatons will be able to enjoy part of the legacy,once the chapel,music building and outdoor amphi-theatre are fully restored.Alma College was lost in a horrific fire,that was deliberately set,and if not for the political bumbling of politicians,the college may very well be on its way to full restoration,instead we are trying to save what remains,with little to no interest,on the part of the culture ministry.We can’t go back in time,but we can capture a part of yesterday,by restoring the 2 remaining buildings and outdoor amphi-theatre,We are asking the provincial government to step to the plate and designate the property and assist in the restoration of 96 Moore Street.It’s not only the right thing to do,but in the interest of history,its the just thing to do…

Bob Foster

Aileen Carroll’s path of destruction continues

Vandals take their toll on Alma amphitheatre

Vandals take their toll on Alma amphitheatre

From Bob Foster in Brampton, Ont
Monday September 28th,2009 marked 16 months to the day that we lost Alma College in St.Thomas,Ontario.On the property at 96 Moore Street 2 buildings remain standing,as does the unique outdoor amphi-theatre.The thousands of Alma supporters would like our culture minister to designate the property with “Provincial Heritage Designation”,so the property will be protected from any further neglect.The chapel and music building have remained untouched since the May 2008 inferno completely destroyed beautiful & historic Alma College,sadly the outdoor amphi-theatre which was restored by residents of St.Thomas shortly after the fire,is now facing a daily dose of vandalism.Our culture minister has failed to see the historic value of this property and 2 remaining structures.In the headlines almost on a daily basis is our culture minister handing out millions of dollars to one organization or another,yet funds cannot be provided to fully restore the 2 remaining structures and outdoor amphi-theatre,at 96 Moore Street.If the property was protected with heritage designation,this would pave the way for the last remaining part of the Alma College legacy,to be preserved for future generations to enjoy.Aileen Carroll failed 16 months ago to properly designate Alma College,which more than likely would have prevented this tragedy from ever taking place,and instead of mourning the loss,we would have been celebrating the grand re-opening of this once magnificent structure.The Alma supporters ask Aileen Carroll to recognize the huge contribution 96 Moore Street has made to our province.The property is at risk of becoming a distant memory,but with government intervention the property could once again become a valuable part of St.Thomas.16 months of silence from Aileen Carroll is not a positive sign from the one person who is supposed to champion the cause of preserving our heritage,instead we are left to wonder,WHO IS PROTECTING OUR PAST?

Don’t forget this in the inventory of places of worship

Inside the chapel
From Bob Foster in Brampton:

Minister Aileen Carroll,
In a recent news release on the CNW Group website,it was reported that the Ontario Heritage Trust was taking inventory of places of worship.At first I was taken aback, because for 15 months we have been trying to convince your ministry to recognize a quaint little chapel located on the grounds of 96 Moore Street in St.Thomas,Ont.The chapel was a huge part of Alma College and the thousands of student who passed through the granite gates of the college would eventually enter the chapel at some point to pray,as it was a part of their daily routine.We lost Alma College to fire in May 2008,however the chapel survived,as did the music building and outdoor amphi-theater.It would be a fitting tribute to the great legacy of Alma College,if the Ontario Heritage Trust would recognize the chapel as a place of worship,and it would also be fitting if the ministry of culture would give provincial heritage designation to 96 Moore Street,so the chapel,music building and outdoor amphi-theater would be protected from any further neglect.The Alma supporters are formally asking your ministry to recognize 96 Moore Street.I’ve included a few photographs of the chapel,and if your ministry is serious about taking inventory of places of worship,starting with the chapel at 96 Moore Street,would be a great start.The chapel may not be a grand old church,but many a student prayed inside her walls,and the chapel brought piece and comfort to all those students who came to study at Alma College,from all across the globe.Alma College gave to our province for well over 100 years,it’s now time for the Ontario government to give back with provincial heritage designation for 96 Moore Street St.Thomas,Ont

Bob Foster

Culture Minister Aileen Carroll’s 15 months of shame

Aileen Carroll

Aileen Carroll

Posted by Bob Foster

Dear Mr.Premier,
Today marks exactly 15 months to the day that we lost beautiful & historic Alma College in St.Thomas.The Alma supporters thought our culture minister would surely step forward after the horrific fire and designate the property to protect the 2 remaining buildings and outdoor amphi-theatre,but sadly we were mistaken.Aileen Carroll has FAILED to do anything of importance,when it comes to Ontario’s built heritage.Countless buildings have been demolished on her watch,and with 14 months left before the next provincial electon,we are sure to lose many more before Ontarian’s realize what a failure this Liberal government has been,on so many fronts.Aileen Carroll was recently voted the 2nd most invisible provincial cabinet minister by the people in her own riding.Letters were sent to the editors of several newspapers by the voters in her riding,claiming she does not respond to e-mails,letters or phone messages.A spokesman for Carroll claimed she likes to work quietly behind the scene to get things done.Now that statement is laughable,Minister Carroll doesnt work quietly,in fact she doesnt work at all,at least not for the protection of built heritage.I’ve seen Minister Carroll on the evening news,at the opening of several art galleries and other regal events,but have yet to see her do anything of significant value in the area of built heritage.96 Moore Street has always been a candidate for Provincial Heritage Designation,and the Ontario Heritage Trust recommended such designation,but the ministry of culture hid the OHT report for months,letting the “demolition by neglect” to continue,until the college was burned to the ground 15 months ago.Will Minister Carroll now give 96 Moore Street the honor it so deserves,will she finally recognize the contribution Alma College made to our province for well over 100 years,or will she continue allowing historic buildings and properties to be demolished and bulldozed.The Alma supporters await designation for this historic property,anything less would be an insult to 100 years of service.We await a response,but according to voters in her own riding of Barrie,responding is not a top priority for Aileen Carroll.

Bob Foster

Looking for heritage roadblocks? Start with the legal community.

During its August meeting three years ago, city council denied a permit application from the Zubick family of London to demolish the remaining buildings at Alma College.
What appeared at the time to be a bold move by our municipal representatives was, in fact, nothing of the sort. With a trip to the polls just three months distant, our elected officials were just protecting their political assets.
Following the November vote, it was business as usual and a collective ho-hum to the city’s rich heritage.
To be fair, however, the finger of blame also needs to be pointed in the direction of culture minister Aileen Carroll, who appears to be missing in action when dealing with the province’s built heritage.
Or as faithful reader Bob Foster in Brampton notes, should you wish to corner Carroll, you are best to attend regal gatherings where there is no shortage of wine and cheese.
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“You dont change the course of history by turning the faces of portraits to the wall”

Posted by Bob Foster:
Ms.Aileen Carroll,
On a warm and breezy August day I drove the 2 hours from my hometown of Brampton,to the city of St.Thomas where beautiful & historic Alma College stood for 130 years,sadly the college no longer towers over St.Thomas,for all the political posturing and lack of leadership at every level,allowed this masterpiece to sit neglected,until a fire eventually brought her down in May of last year.The property is historical in its own right and one would think our culture minister would see the historical value,considering 2 buildings remained standing after the horrific fire and are now facing demolition,unless someone from the Ontario government steps to the plate and gives provincial heritage designation.Are we to simply walk away from 96 Moore Street,do we just forget the contribution the college made to our province,or would the culture minister prefer the 2 buildings that have withstood the hands of time,be brought down with the wrecking ball,like so many on her watch.I’m reminded of a quote I recently read by Jawaharlal Hehru:

“You dont change the course of history by turning the faces of portraits to the wall”

This saying couldnt be more true,for if we simply turn our back on 96 Moore Street,does this mean we can just go on like we’re not to blame.We are all responsible for allowing the poor treatment of this magnificent structure to continue for so long,but we now have a chance to keep the memory alive.Will Aileen Carroll give provincial heritage designation to 96 Moore Street or will she simply turn the portrait of Alma College to the wall?

Bob Foster

Falling through the cracks — the innocent victims of futility

Elizabeth Dye is a strong-willed woman — whose sense of pride and work ethic prompted her to write this corner to urge the time has come to stop judging and start helping others.
She speaks not of herself, in spite of the fact she has had to “downgrade everything,” but instead for those she notes, “who don’t fit into the neat little categories society sets out as the norm.”
Those neither sick enough to be hospitalized nor healthy enough to function effectively in our society.
“They are cast aside and fall through the cracks,” she advises. “In short their family, friends and advocates just fade away when they realize the futility of the fight.”
The RPN, off work for two years dealing with her own emotional issues, wishes to draw attention to the pitiful sum handed out monthly via the Ontario Disability Support Program.
Especially in light of the fact, whether physically or psychologically unable to work, no one sets out to be in this position.
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