The Frontenac Heritage Fondation @ 50
Founded in 1972 by a citizens' group of academics and preservation activists, the Frontenac Heritage Foundation turns 50 years of age. It continuously advocates for conservation of the built-environment, awards certificates for noteworthy preservation efforts throughout the Frontenac County area, publishes a newsletter, and carries on various other educational activities. Initially, on the model of such bodies as Historic Annapolis in the USA, the FHF purchased at-risk properties and with volunteer labour restored them for resale. As a result of hard-fought victories, the preservation-climate slowly improved, despite early defeats. Recent threats in 2019-22, however, have re-embroiled the FHF in battles with local authorities, severely encumbering its finances and reminding it never to let down its guard.
My paper will concentrate on an early philosophical rift within the FHF that lead to its creation of the Committee on Preparedness (COP for short). The committee members, consisting of four COPs, acted as watchdogs to sniff out impending threats to heritage properties, and sought to reverse them by raising public awareness. COP used tactics in part inspired by those of similar action-groups in Montreal. In contrast to their parent-organization, COPs acted like the irreverent youngsters they were: slightly secretive ; subversive; confrontational in word as well as deed; and short-lived. But before they disbanded in 1978 they achieved one remarkable preservation coup in the historic downtown core of Kingston. This accomplishment concludes the paper on a high note.