Historic items pulled from doomed hotel 0
Collingwood fire chief Trent Elyea with some of the historic items pulled from the Mountain View Hotel prior to its demolition — including a painted reputedly by local artist Ernie Taylor.
COLLINGWOOD — Even as the Mountain View comes down, parts of its history will be preserved.
As the wrecking crew slowly makes its way through the building, removing material considered hazardous waste for appropriate disposal, there have been a few items saved.
Among them, stained glass windows that were over the doors that opened out onto the verandahs overlooking Huron Street; the top of a fireplace from the office; blueprints of the original building; and, one of the more important rescues, an original painting by local artist Ernie Taylor.
The town's manager of arts and culture, Tanya Mazza, says the painting still needs to be authenticated as it appears to be unsigned, and a professional conservator will evaluate the piece and provide options for its cleaning and restoration.
However, noted Mazza, she is confident the work is Taylor's based on feedback from individuals familiar with his work.
The piece — painted on a four-foot-by-eight-foot sheet of plywood — depicts several boats on the water. Taylor, who died in 1999, was a considered a significant regional artist; he graduated from Collingwood Collegiate, and attended the Ontario College of Art. He later opened a stained glass studio in Toronto, working as an illustrator for several magazines and the National Film Board before returning to Collingwood with his family.
His wife and six children died in a house fire in the early 1960s.
Following the tragedy, Taylor wandered across the country, eventually landing a job in North Bay teaching art. Former Mountain View owner John Wheeler owns several of Taylor's pieces, reportedly in exchange for drink or a room for the night.
Mazza said the town's arts and culture committee will provide recommendations to council for the piece's care and potential location.
Fire chief Trent Elyea, who removed the piece, which is now sitting in a trailer along with other items rescued from the building, marvelled at the work — though noted it will likely require significant cleaning — as will other wooden objects removed from the building, because of mould.
"When you look at the detail (in the painting), it's just amazing," said Elyea.
Elyea said workers removed anything "that could be considered of sentimental value."
However, he noted, much of the woodwork — including the staircase in the main foyer — will likely suffer the wrecker's ball.
It's not because it's been damaged, but because of the craftsmanship that went into it; Elyea says there's no way to remove much of it because it appears to have been built in place, and any attempt to remove it would likely destroy it.
He was also able to determine the section of the building that was the original hotel; however, he noted, that section — fronting Hurontario Street — has essentially been gutted.
"It's so rotted and bastardized that I don't think there was anything anybody could have done to restore it," he said.
On his computer, Elyea has numerous photos of the inside; while it shows off much of the woodwork, it also demonstrates the level of deterioration the building has undergone, especially since it was closed off three years ago. Many of the photos show the extent of mould and water damage.
Anyone working in the building is required to wear hazmat equipment. The building is expected to be demolished by the weekend.
The town purchased the property last month from Larry Dunn for $600,000 in order to widen Huron Street at that point to five lanes. The cost to demolish the building is approximately $250,000. The municipality is in discussions with the province to fund most of the costs associated with the purchase, demolition, and road widening, as the street is a provincial highway connecting link.