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New sign explains Stanley Park heritage designation

Historic arch - Gathering for the unveiling of signage to explain the Ontario Heritage Designation for the Stanley Park Gates and Arch on Main Street in Erin are, from left: Ernie Vannatter and Stephen Nabney of Orange Lodge in Guelph, Erin Mayor Allan Alls, Heritage Committee chair Jamie Cheyne, Steven Thompson of Orange Lodge and councillor Jeff Duncan.   Photo by Phil Gravelle

 

New sign explains Stanley Park heritage designation

by Phil Gravelle

ERIN - A three-year project to recognize the historic significance of the stone gates and wooden arch at the entrance to Erin’s Stanley Park ended with a celebration on Sept. 15.

Supporters and residents gathered for the unveiling of a sign, with one side explaining the history and the other side the designation of a Heritage Site under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Stanley Park was a major tourist attraction from the late 1800s up to the 1920s, thanks to the nearby Credit Valley Railway.

“This was the Muskokas of the day for people in Toronto,” said Heritage Committee Chair Jamie Cheyne.

Councillor Jeff Duncan thanked the Masonic Lodge and Loyal Orange Lodge for their financial support of the restoration of the gates and arch. Both groups were active in Erin in the early years of Stanley Park. They attach significance to the symbolism of similar arches.

He thanked county planning staff, Erin staff and council for their support.

The University of Guelph partnered with the town to prepare a detailed heritage assessment to help preserve and promote the site.

The designation was approved in 2017, and the restoration was done this year.

Stone mason John Smith restored the grout in its original style. Ed Wilson did arch repairs and Paul Lewis contributed arborist work.

This is the town’s first designation in 11 years. The bylaw says the gates and arch demonstrate a high degree of craftsmanship, representative of early 20th century design and fieldstone construction.

Stanley Park was built next to the rail line, after the purchase of 50 acres of land by James Long in 1888. It became a destination for entertainment, dances, cottage visits, boating, horse races, bicycle races and foot races.

As automobiles became popular in the early 1900s, later owner Henry Austin built the gates to better identify the location and welcome visitors.

The gates were in use from the early 1920s until the 1980s. Tourist traffic declined over the years, and today the park is a privately-owned residential area.

 

September 21, 2018

 
 

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