Heritage Church Conservation In Rural Southern Ontario: An analysis Of Outcomes In Three Rural Municipalities
thesisposted on 25.05.2021, 07:14 by Michelle Neilson
Across Ontario, churches are closing their doors as congregants and clergy members decline. These closures leave a number of surplus churches that face abandonment, demolition or re-use. Retaining surplus churches presents a challenge for heritage planners and communities who wish to conserve these unique, aging, landmarks. While a great deal has been written on the challenges of church conservation in urban areas, very little is known about the pattern of church conservation in rural areas. In this study, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist and United Churches are inventoried in the municipalities of Chatham-Kent, Prince Edward County and the City of Kawartha Lakes to determine the most common outcome of former rural churches. The findings show that adaptive re-use is by far the most common outcome, followed by demolition and vacancy. In addition, the findings indicate low municipal heritage designation rates among rural churches even though they represent some of the oldest architectural landmarks in Ontario. This study calls on heritage planners and communities to plan for the future of their rural religious heritage to ensure that churches of historic and community value are both conserved and re-used for future generations to come.