A Haunted House In Canada: Mixed-Race Couple Discovers Their Historic House Was Built By Immigration Patriot
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From the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:

Couple fights to rid Toronto home of heritage status

Original owner Stapleton Pitt Caldecott was opposed to immigration, historian says
Michael Smee · CBC News · Posted: Apr 05, 2024

A couple in an affluent midtown Toronto neighbourhood is asking the city to remove the heritage designation from their century home because they say the original owner was racist.

The two-and-a-half storey 9,000-square foot house in the Yonge and St. Clair area, was built in 1906 for Stapleton Pitt Caldecott, a former Toronto Board of Trade president who was opposed to immigration, a University of Toronto historian says.

Dr. Arnold Mahesan, a fertility specialist of Sri Lankan descent, and his wife, entrepreneur and former Real Housewives of Toronto actor Roxanne Earle, whose family comes from Pakistan, bought the house in 2022 for $5 million, real estate records show. At the time, they say, they didn’t know the home had a heritage designation.

“Stapleton Caldecott would’ve been appalled by us living in the house he commissioned,” Mahesan told the March 28 meeting of the Toronto Preservation Board (TPB).

The couple, who identifies as mixed-race, told the board they only discovered their home was a designated heritage property last year, when they began looking into modifying the house’s steep stairway from the sidewalk.

Because of that heritage designation, they learned, they’d need to get permission from the city before making any major changes to the property.

… They say a closer look would have revealed its original owner held views that should have excluded it from preservation.

The city doesn’t currently have a policy that would bar buildings owned by such individuals from gaining heritage status.

In making their allegations about Caldecott at last week’s board meeting, the couple cited a report by University of Toronto lecturer Michael Akladios, which points out that Caldecott was anti-immigration, and in favour of newcomers assimilating into mainstream society.

… A city staff report to the TPB concluded the home’s designation had little to do with its association with Caldecott. Instead, the report says the home is worth preserving because it was designed by prominent Toronto architect Eden Smith and because of the unique structural qualities he brought to the building. …

Instead of repealing the heritage designation bylaw, the board voted to remove all references to Caldecott from city documents that explain the house’s significance.

Mahesan told the board that’s not good enough. He said simply removing references to Caldecott amounts to “putting our thumbs over that part of history.”

“The only appropriate remedy is to repeal the bylaw” that gave the home its heritage designation in the first place, he said.

The city receives on average 1,800 to 2,000 applications a year from homeowners who want to alter their heritage properties, city staff told CBC Toronto in an email. “Almost all are approved,” the email says.

Wynne told CBC Toronto he’s never heard of a property owner who wanted the heritage designation removed from their property on the grounds that the original owner allegedly held racist views.

He added it’s worth looking into past associations that other Toronto landmarks may have with prominent figures whose views would be considered repugnant by today’s standards.

Another board member, Paul Cordingley, told last week’s meeting the Mahesan-Earle application raises significant points about what a heritage designation means.

“I think we have to find a way of disengaging preservation from celebrating,” he said. “Because I would not want anyone to think that if we’re trying to maintain the designation of this house, that we are celebrating or downplaying what goes along with that.”

He added that prospective homeowners should be expected to research a property they’re interested in buying.

Earle told CBC Toronto she’s upset with the board’s decision, calling it “a smack in the face.”

“How would I know that a city like Toronto has a preservation society which intends to celebrate racism more than the people living in the homes?” she asked. “How is that something an average homeowner is supposed to know?”

Sounds like Stapleton Caldecott was wrong to worry about immigrants assimilating: these two seem to embody modern Canada to a T.

[Comment at Unz.com]

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