We made the front page of the North Star

Tower Hill Heritage Garden passes a hurdle. This photo comes from the archives of resident Morley MacDonald, the grandson of Charlie MacDonald, shown above, who was the first towerman. The photo shows MacDonald in the garden on tower hill during its glory days. Work on the gardens started in the late 1920s. Submitted photo

By Sarah Bissonette

December 21, 2011

PARRY SOUND – Tower hill is now a heritage site. With that, plans are coming together for a community effort to restore the gardens and ranger cabin to the glory of the early 1930s, reinstituting it as a place where people can learn about Parry Sound’s past and the ecosystem. “The way you figure out what is culturally important in our heritage…think about what you describe to a visitor to Parry Sound or what you show them first...personally for me, what I like to think of, what really defines us, who we are, what we come from is our garden on Tower Hill,” said Anne Bossart, a member of the former municipal heritage committee before council voted earlier this  month. Heritage designation Town council approved the property’s designation at its December 6 meeting. It first approved the designation for the property it maintains in principle in October 2010. Before the vote, Bossart painted a vision of what the area, referred to as the Tower Hill Heritage Garden, could be for people in the future: a trail to learn about the land’s history and the ecosystem, a tower to look out over the town, a garden, complete with a pond, to relax in, and a restored ranger cabin. Although there’s no official group, Bossart has gathered a group of volunteers willing to take on the project from the West Parry Sound District Museum, Parry Sound Horticultural Society, Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve and Parry Sound Nature Club. “The last thing I see there is the ranger cabin,” she said in her presentation to council. “It’s not wonderful the way it is (now) but it was put there by Mr. McEwen, (the) forester who set out the original fire tower and had his ranger living there. I see that ranger cabin, one of many things, it could be a place for people to sit and enjoy the view, it could be a place for a picnic. It could also be a place where we could have an interpretive display telling the story of the garden, the fire tower and the logging heritage.” The now dilapidated ranger cabin gave council pause before they designated it and the garden as a heritage property. Some on council wondered if the building was included in the designation, if the town could demolish it at a later date if need be and if it had appropriate liability insurance if anything untoward should happen due to its current condition. “I’m not sure it’s worth saving at this point, it’s about to fall apart,” said Coun. Dan McCauley. “Sometimes not everything can be saved and this is something that might not be able to be saved.” Council was assured it could still have the building torn down if necessary and that the town had the appropriate liability insurance. Coun. Dave Williams sits on the museum board as the town’s representative. “I certainly don’t want us to be the wet blanket on this group of volunteers,” he said. Attributes protected with the heritage designation include stonework, rubble walls, the sundial, the pond and surrounding decking, the observation tower and ranger cabin. “I see it as the place where our natural heritage stories are told,” said Bossart.

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News, UpdatesAnne Bossart