Wednesday, 16 November 2016

INN HISTORY: AN EXEMPLAR OF TORONTO'S HISTORIC BUILDINGS

HERITAGE MOMENTS

BY: CONNOR KURTZ

Often as cities grow and change over time, they leave remnants of their past scattered about their urban landscape.  Unlike a museum, where exhibits often guide and shape a visitor's experience, within an urban landscape the location of these remnants sometimes may seem to stand out in stark relief against their surroundings.  Here in Toronto we possess more than our fair share of this type of history and it may be most clearly seen through the city's collection of historic buildings.  One in particular in Toronto that stands in testament to this type of heritage is Montgomery's Inn. 
The Inn was constructed around 1830 in Etobicoke by Thomas Montgomery.  It first served the community of Etobicoke as a local gathering place and as a place of rest for people travelling along Dundas Street to Toronto (Source).  Thomas Montgomery stopped running the Inn when his wife died in the 1850s.  In the 1940s the Inn became home of the local Presbyterian church who made several modifications to the houses interior structure (Source).   
Montgomery's Inn going west on Dundas Street. (Source)
It was only when the Inn was sold by the church and slated for demolition by it's new owner that a local historical group, the Etobicoke Historical Society, stepped forward to save the building.  They were able to convince the owner , Louis Mayzell, to sell them the building.  It was through their and Mayzell's efforts that the society was able to fully purchase the building in the late 1960s.  Later it was purchased by the town from the society and became the local museum in 1975 (Source). 
Part of what fascinates me about the Inn is not its excellently restored interior, or it’s particular history, but rather what it stands for.  While cities grow and change overtime, these remnants of their past and heritage have often been torn down to make way for progress and change.  This is an unfortunate and unalterable fact that happens in due course over time.
Montgomery’s Inn is different in that, unlike others, it has survived.  While in other places a plaque may mark a buildings location, it acts only as a memorial for the original structure that stood on the site.  Montgomery's Inn was able to survive because a group of local citizens rallied around it and were willing to invest their passion and dedication to preserve a piece of their local heritage. 
The City of Toronto and the museum's volunteers have done an admirable job in continuing their work and making the museum a place of active civic engagement and community activity, hosting events such as tea times, art exhibitions and farmers markets (Source).  In the end though these efforts at preservation were often begun by citizens that were part of groups like these.  They laboured to ensure a part of their local heritage remain part of their city's landscape and for that alone their efforts should always be remembered.

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