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New West council supports preservation of Mr. May Day’s house

Queen's Park home to get heritage designation
125 third St.
The J.J. and Lottie Johnston House (1905) at 125 Third St. is in being dedicated as a heritage property.

A Queen’s Park resident is taking action to protect her home into perpetuity.

Gail Ancill, owner of the Johnston House at 125 Third St., applied to the city for a heritage designation. Ancill sought to designate the house to honour the 1905 home’s original owner, JJ Johnston, and to prevent any potential future demolition to the home.

Kathleen Stevens, the city’s heritage planning analyst, said the property has already been recognized as having heritage value through its inclusion on the heritage inventory and the heritage register, and it is also protected in the Queen’s Park heritage conservation area.

“The house has historic value for its association with JJ Johnson, a former mayor and public figure in New Westminster,” she said. “The house has esthetic value for the integrity of its design, as well as for its association with celebrated local architects and crafts people, such as architects Clow and Welsh  and Gardiner and Mercer, as well as stained glass manufacturer Henry Bloomfield.”

In addition to serving on city council for 13 years and three terms as mayor, Johnston was the official timekeeper at Salmonbellies’ lacrosse games, the longtime registrar of voters in New West and the city’s 1947 and 1950 Citizen of the Year. He was known as “Mr. May Day” as he served as the event’s master of ceremonies for more than 50 years and attended every May Day from the time he was an infant in 1870 until his death in 1966.

“I want to say thank you to Gail Ancill, the owner of 125 Third St. for voluntarily designating her house,” said Queen’s Park resident Catherine Hutson. “Love it. It is much appreciated in the heritage circles.”

Stevens said site redevelopment is not being proposed as part of the heritage designation application.

Queen’s Park resident Gail North spoke in support of the application at the public hearing. She thanked the homeowner for seeking to “designate a great house and preserve a piece of New West history” without asking for “the sun, the moon and the stars, and a huge profit” in return for designating her house.

“Designating this home will make it harder for a future owner to demolish or alter a fine example of a beautiful old house,” she told council. “Enough said, enough said. What could be easier to support?”

Council unanimously approved the heritage designation bylaw following the Jan. 31 public hearing.

“I just want to thank the owners of that property for having the heart to just come forward and designate their property without seeking any density or anything additional,” said Coun. Chuck Puchmayr. “This is the good old days when this happened – not often enough, but it did happen – but I think it should be recognized and it should be celebrated.”

Follow Theresa McManus on Twitter @TheresaMcManus

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