ICOMOS Canada 2005

ICOMOS Canada 2005

Photo: ICOMOS Canada 2005


John Blumenson

Tools for conservation

Published Date: Feb 16, 2006

Until the late 1800s, heritage had been primarily a national, almost insular concern. The concept of international heritage preservation began to be seriously considered in the 1930s, following several key conventions throughout Europe. In 1965, the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) was founded. Since then, ICOMOS has significantly raised awareness of international heritage concerns and, more critically, helped save heritage sites globally by inscribing them to UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

From September 29 to October 1, 2005, ICOMOS Canada held its 28th Annual General Assembly and Congress in Toronto. In partnership with the Ontario Heritage Trust, Ryerson University, the Ontario Ministry of Culture and the City of Toronto, the Congress hosted over 100 heritage professionals, academics and students from around the world. This year’s theme – The Significance of Setting – coincided with the chosen theme for the ICOMOS International General Assembly in Xi’an, China in November.

A pre-Congress workshop at Fort York provided an energized and creative introduction. Organized by the Ryerson School of Architecture, more than 30 students interpreted the site and designed a visitor centre within the Fort’s historic setting. The students’ imaginative design concepts were exhibited throughout the Congress; afterward, the exhibit was sent to China for the International General Assembly.

Lectures were also presented at Ryerson University and the Ontario Heritage Centre. Opening remarks were offered by Michel Bonnette – newly elected President of ICOMOS Canada. Ryerson’s Architecture Chair George Kapelos then introduced Harvard University Professor Mark Laird who spoke about the “Impacts of Climate Change on Historic Landscapes.” The keynote speaker – Meredith Walker from Australia – challenged participants with her presentation of changing heritage settings in Australia. Walker suggested that “place” or location of heritage resources differs greatly from its “setting,” the area around the resources that can be defined as the visual catchment area of the heritage resource.

The Ontario Heritage Trust also hosted the inaugural Martin E. Weaver Memorial Fund Lecture – dedicated to Martin Weaver – scholar, lecturer, prolific writer, ICOMOS colleague and mentor to many young heritage conservationists. Norman Weiss, Weaver’s colleague at Columbia University, gave this lecture.

In 2005, the prestigious Jacques Dalibard Award – named after ICOMOS Canada’s founder – was presented to Francois and Renée LeBlanc for their many years of dedicated service to heritage conservation in Canada and internationally. M. Dalibard personally presented the Award to his long-time colleagues.

This year’s Congress – November 2-4, 2006 at Carleton University in Ottawa – will build on the imagination and energy generated by this Congress’s student participation. The theme will be “Principles and Practice.” In autumn 2008, ICOMOS Canada will host the next ICOMOS International Congress in Quebec City on the theme of “Spirit of Place” to coincide with the city's 400th anniversary celebrations.

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