What is Built Heritage?
Built Heritage is a broader concept than it may first appear. It centers around preserving historical buildings in the form of photographs and historical records. The purpose is to create a narrative around each building; Who lived there? How is the architectural style indicative of the time and place it was built? What stories are associated with the building? What was it used for? With this in mind, built heritage aims to preserve and educate residents on their local history. It has also been extended to include places and landmarks that are important to the community. For example, cemeteries, ferries, and covered bridges are all a part of built heritage because they are an essential part of our local collective history and identity. Understanding the historical context of the physical landmarks in ones region empowers them in understanding where there predecessors came from.
This brings us to another main purpose of built heritage; continuity and change. Built heritage is not just about understanding our past, but it is also about understanding what has remained constant over the years and what has changed. For example, on an individual level one’s home may have been in the family for generations, but its function may have changed over time. The Willows House has been in the hands of the same family for generations, but was at one time a summer resort and is now a private residence. Themes of continuity and change can also be found on a larger community level. The Kingston Peninsula was once a bustling community filled with farms, businesses, hotels, post-offices, summer camps and more. Though over time many of this has been lost; forests have overtaken much farmland and many businesses have been lost to time. The physical remnants of this illustrious past shape the current characteristics of the Peninsula and foster the pride of its residents.
Through the buildings and landmarks on the Peninsula one can better understand the history of specific areas of interest or groups of people. For example, we can study the buildings to understand how industry had evolved over time and how it has impacted the peninsula and the people who lived/ live there. We can also use buildings to understand the history of groups of people. For example, the arrival of the Catholic community in Summerville is marked with the acquisition of land and the creation of the log chapel “Etchingham’s Chapel” and later, St. Bridgets. Similarly, we can use buildings to understand the history of other groups on the Peninsula such as the black community. Or on a smaller level, it can be used to understand family history; Where families lived and how the buildings reflected their status, occupation, or lifestyle.
In addition to preserving the history of the buildings, landmarks, and places, exploring continuity and change in the local community, and helping to understand history of specific groups, Built Heritage also has the goal of making this information more accessible to the public. Currently the built heritage book and pamphlet, which contain photos and information on historic residences and buildings, is being updated to include cemeteries, ferries, and covered bridges. A map is also being created so that people can easily see where these buildings are located. This will be put on the new Built Heritage website, which allows viewers to easily access information on a wide range of historic buildings on the Kingston Peninsula. In this way, the public will be able to discover the stories and history surrounding specific buildings and places that they may have never otherwise known. This initiative will also encourage tourism on the Kingston Peninsula because, with the creation of the map and website, visitors will be able to tour the peninsula in their vehicle and view historical buildings and landmarks while accessing information on their smartphone.
The hope is that this project will foster a sense of community and pride in Kingston Peninsula residents. We have a rich history, the remnants of which shape the Peninsula, and those who live on it, to this day. Let’s celebrate our beautiful buildings, and also what makes the peninsula “our place.”
Skye Bhu Castle
View from Gandola Point Ferry
Gandola Point Ferry
View from Gandola Point Ferry