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New West resident seeks to preserve Mr. May Day’s house

Council in brief
125 third St.
The J.J. and Lottie Johnston House (1905) at 125 Third St. is in the protected category of the Queen's Park heritage conservation area but the owners want add further protection by dedicating it as a heritage property.

The owners of a heritage home connected to “Mr. May Day” are taking steps to protect it into the future.

The owners of the Johnston House at 125 Third St. have applied for a heritage designation, which is the strongest form of heritage protection. A staff report to council said the house has esthetic and social value.

In a letter to the city, Gail Ancill said the Edwardian house was built in 1905 and was renovated in 1912. It was built for John (JJ) and Charlotte Johnston.

“JJ Johnston was an outstanding figure in the history of New Westminster, serving on city council for several years and mayor for three terms,” she wrote. “He was affectionately known as Mr. May Day, having attended every celebration from his first year in 1870 until his passing in 1966 at the age of 96. He served as the May Day master of ceremonies for over 50 years.”

Ancill said Johnston was also the official timekeeper at Salmonbellies’ lacrosse games, the longtime registrar of voters in New Westminster, and the recipient of the Citizen of the Year award in 1947 and 1950. He also received the Man of the Year award in 1953 and was awarded the Freeman of the City in 1966.

“I am requesting this heritage designation, not only to honour this native of New Westminster, but to also prevent any potential future demolition of his beautiful home,” she wrote.

Since purchasing the home in 1989, Ancill said she’s replace the foundations, drainage, electrical, plumbing/pipe and much more.

“It is truly a beautiful home inside and out,” she wrote. “It is true that heritage homes are money pits, but the time and money spent are very rewarding. I am happy to be part of this home’s history and proud to be taking the necessary steps to ensure its survival for future families to love and raise their families in as I did.”

At its Dec. 13 meeting, city council gave two readings to a heritage designation bylaw for 125 Third St. A public hearing will be scheduled.

Follow Theresa McManus on Twitter @TheresaMcManus