Category Archives: Auchmar Estate

Stand Up for Auchmar – May 18th Public Meeting

Are You Passionate about keeping Auchmar in Public Hands?
Act now before it’s too late!

Please plan to attend our upcoming community meeting, Stand Up For Auchmar.  The meeting will be taking place on Wednesday May 18, 5pm to 7pm at The Hamilton Club, 6 Main St. East, Hamilton.

The purpose of the meeting is to make the case to keep the Auchmar Estate in public ownership thus maximizing the various year-round benefits accruing to residents and visitors alike.

The meeting will open with a talk by Marvin Ryder, professor with the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University, on best practices in the effective adaptive reuse of heritage buildings.

Read the full Media Release Here -> FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 18-May-2016, Hamilton ON: Friends of Auchmar Community Meeting – Stand Up for Auchmar

Seating is limited.


Is there hard cash for keeping Auchmar public?

Latest plan calls for keeping it in public hands, but ongoing issue of funding persists

Since 2008 the public has spent $2.5 million keeping Auchmar together, including about $800,000 from the Future Fund.

Since 2008 the public has spent $2.5 million keeping Auchmar together, including about $800,000 from the Future Fund.

If you want to wade into Hamilton’s predicament over Auchmar, now’s the time to speak up.

On Thursday, the public is invited to discuss city staff’s operations plan for the 162-year-old vacant heritage property, which requires up to $8 million in repairs.

The meeting is at the Tourism Hamilton centre inside — appropriately enough — the restored historic Lister Building on James Street North.

The plan calls for keeping the manor and grounds in public hands and adapting it for use by community groups, city staff and private companies who might rent it for weddings, film shoots and conferences.

It’s hoped that the revenue generated will cover the annual operating costs for the property at the corner of Fennell and West 5th — the only city-owned designated heritage site on the Mountain.

The tail in the gate is $6 million to $8 million are needed for capital repairs. Where are those big bucks going to come from?

Don’t forget, taxpayers have already invested a lot of money in keeping Auchmar together. Since 2008, $2.5 million, including about $800,000 from the Future Fund, has been spent on capital projects for the debilitated building.

The city acquired Auchmar in 1999 to save the 3.8 hectare (9.5-acre) property from being turned into a subdivision. Faced with the challenge of preserving the past while trying to make present ends meets, council has spent years chasing its tail on what to do next.

The last four years in particular suggest the city has been trying to bake cookies in a cold oven.

In 2012, staff was directed to complete an operations plan for future use. In 2013, council then told staff to pursue expressions of interest from the private sector. A year later, council ordered staff to fully scout out private sector partners who were interested in conservation and adaptive reuse. While that was going on, staff’s own plan went on hold.

When the two private sector submissions that were received didn’t past muster, council directed staff to get busy again while also seeking out prospective buyers. That parallel train went off track in 2015 when council suspended talks with private sector interests for six months until staff could finish its work.

If that’s not muddled enough, staff now intends to ask council to delay resuming talks with potential private bidders for another six months until it finishes the plan being floated with the public on Thursday.

That brings us back to the nitty-gritty millions needed to fully restore Auchmar.

In October, staff paid KCI Ketchum Canada $38,000 to put together an action plan and list of prospective donors and sponsors for both Auchmar and city-owned St. Marks church on Bay Street, which itself needs about $2.3 million in repairs.

Anna Bradford, director of tourism and culture, says she hired KCI in order to answer potential council questions about fundraising support in the community. In other words, is the necessary financial support out there or will council be forced to either return to the tax levy or finally sell Auchmar?

At this point, all we can say with certainty is a couple of years ago the Heritage Hamilton Foundation set up the Auchmar Challenge Fund in which it committed to match public donations up to $25,000. According to president Diane Dent, the challenge has only raised about $13,000 to date.

Is that a fair gauge of community support? Dent doesn’t think so. She notes HHF has been hesitant to push the challenge until it’s clear whether Auchmar will remain publicly owned. Dent has high hopes KCI will put “flesh on the bones” of staff’s potential plan.

If you want to hear all about it, Thursday’s meeting at the Lister includes two sessions. There’s an informal discussion with staff from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and a formal presentation with feedback from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Article by Andrew Dreschel
The Hamilton Spectator

Sale of Auchmar Estate On Hold for Six Months

Public organizations will get one more shot at operating Auchmar Estate.
City Councillors voted 12-3 in favour of Councillor Terry Whitehead’s motion to suspend the private sale process and current negotiations with potential buyers of the Auchmar Estate for six months to give residents one more shot at keeping the heritage building in public hands.

Terry Whitehead urged councillors Wednesday to put off any sale negotiations for six months to give a recently formed “roundtable” of concerned citizens and community groups a chance to discuss ways to maintain the dilapidated mansion.

City staff warned they were already negotiating with more than one serious would-be buyer, with inquiries from other “interested parties.”
But Whitehead argued that simultaneously negotiating with buyers while also studying public proposals — the previous council-approved plan — “just muddies the waters.”

Whitehead adds that the best ideas coming out of his brainstorming effort will be included in a staff report to council.

The Ward 8 Councillor argues that separate that public and private processes will benefit all parties involved, by making sure the process does not “muddy the water”.

The Friends of Auchmar suggest a range of possible uses for the sprawling property from community gardens and artist’s lofts to weddings, conferences and public tours.

Read the full story here in the Hamilton Spectator.

Brainstorming Proposed Usage Ideas for the Auchmar Estate

These are ideas for the use of Auchmar which incorporate a continuing and constant public use/access to the manor house, other buildings located on the estate and the grounds of the estate. Also, considered with these ideas is a multi use factor which generates revenue.

They are listed in no priority.

  1. Annual Harvest Dinner: (when the orchards have been picked) Open to public. Certain percentage of revenue goes to N2N. (eg: cash to purchase items to restock the shelves).
  2. Artists in residence ( Stables to be made into studios or lofts) Think Pierre Berton House in Yukon 3 to – 6 month residencies , maybe 12 months.
  3. Dundas Valley School of Art : satellite campus or use of the grounds. (See Riverwood in Mississauga)
  4. Chamber Music Series: Series of Concerts in the large room of Auchmar ( monthly, 7 months of the year) Open to the public (Donation of $15 -$20 per individual, $25 per couple).
  5. Small conference venue: Meetings and seminar: Note : Catering service to be subcontracted.
  6. Wedding Photography : Outdoors & Estate grounds: (Permits required – revenue generated)
  7. Claremont Community Hub (which entails that the Manor House be open)
  8. Community or Victory Gardens (located adjacent to the Dovecote.)
  9. R.C.A.F. “Memorial” something which introduces & educates the public about the role of Auchmar during World War 2.
  10. R.H.L.I. A nod to them, Buchanan and the 13th Battalion (one room set aside) rental arrangement?
  11. Weekly tour of Auchmar and the Grounds: Includes site map, self guided audio tour of all the rooms with additional stories and images (See Casa Loma). Generates revenue. Ask $15- $20 per person.
  12. Auchmar Conservancy (occupies space at Auchmar, non profit entity, stewardship role) Note: details in separate letter. For reference See: Riverwood Conservancy.
  13. Buchanan Family and Young Family Exhibit of Possessions.
  14. A rotating or time limited display of possessions which belonged to the families. Open to the public. Ask that the public make a “donation of $5-$10 . Suggested length of exhibit 4-8 weeks. Note: provenance of items to be verified ( This involves the public first hand because the items are out there) (Also, raises profile of Auchmar).
  15. Offices for Historical Societies (details to be determined).
  16. “Serenades by the Stonewall” A summer concert series. 3months (June – August) Saturday or Sunday. Public is invited to bring lawn chairs, blankets, picnic supper. During intermission, a collection will be taken. Suggested donation $5-$10 per individual. $15-$20 per family. Proceeds are divided equally between performers and the Auchmar Challenge.
  17. Theatre on the Green (same idea as Dusk Dances this summer July 31- Aug 3)
  18. Tea under the Tent ( Sunday afternoon tea once a month during June, July August). “Dress to the nines” if you desire in your best Victorian, Edwardian or Roaring 20s.
  19. Emancipation Day Picnic.
  20. The Buchanan Dinner ( Christmas on the Mountain) to be held at Auchmar. Catered. Cost to be determined Percentage of proceeds to Auchmar Challenge. Pair up with a charity to host the event. Part of the ticket cost is a charitable donation to the charity.
  21. The Gate House: Move it onto Auchmar somehow. Crowd source funding to purchase?
  22. Micro Brewery. Heritage ales and pints as well as well as craft beers. (See Black Creek Pioneer Village).
  23. Drink with Dickens: A themed special event. Focus is on the writings of Dickens and his travels in Canada. Seasonal and local foods. Spirits from Small Batch Distillers.
  24. The Buchanan Heritage Walk Series: An heritage series of walks which incorporates all places where Isaac had business interests and property. Tie in stories about his contemporaries, railways, Toronto etc. $10 per person.
  25. Stuff the Bus at Auchmar for N2N.
  26. Venue for Lecture Series.
  27. Genealogy Resource Centre or Archive.
  28. Film Shoots (Exterior of Manor House , buildings, and Estate Grounds)
  29. Stories of Auchmar: A series of Vignettes covering the decades of Auchmar. (Eg: Classic Cars at the Mansion during the Young Era) (eg: Sir John, Sir Allan, Sir Isaac, the Grits and Tories)
  30. Themed Evenings or Afternoons: Open to the public for a donation or ticketed events To be determined. The life of the community and world events through the Auchmar years. (eg: Dr. Alfred Payne, Charles Meville Hays, and the young porter from Port Ryerse: all who went down with the Titanic. An evening with Oscar Wilde, Jules Verne, H.G.Wells, and George Bernard Shaw. News from the front – Letters home from Ypres, the Somme and Passchendaele.
  31. A. V.Young and Thomas McQueston: Conversations.
  32. Heritage Gardens: (demolish the 1960’s dormitory addition) work with horticulturists and staff of Dundurn to create a heritage garden reflective of three eras Buchanan, Young, the Sisters of Service. Mount an appeal to the public for financial assistance in recreating these gardens. Recognition of their contribution (donation) to be a plaque (eg: heritage rose gardens courtesy of ____). Note: See Dundurn Castle.
  33. Sunset Symphony: Boris Brott Youth Ensemble (one evening per month July August) open to the public. Cost $15-$20. Auchmar to be open for tours (6-10 pm) during evening of the performance.
  34. Auchmar Silent Auction: (we know how these work) Flesh out the concept and details. Decide who benefits. Open to the public.
  35. Sisters of Service Exhibit: a time limited exhibit of artifacts, possessions, furnishings. (provenance to be verified) Suggest 4- 8 weeks. Same concept and price as the Buchanan and Young Exhibits.
  36. “Auchmar: From orchard to table. Small concept. Create preserves, jams, chutneys and cider from the orchards and gardens of Auchmar. To be available with the Harvest Dinner. Get them to the Food Trucks or the small entrepreneurs and coffee shops on Upper James or Locke St.
  37. Doors Open Hamilton: Ensure that Auchmar becomes the “must see” or “signature” site of the two day event. Get the city to display the archeological findings and discovery. (Note: See Ruthven).
  38. Auchmar Gala: the Candlelight Ball.(it’s a fundraiser)
  39. Auchmar Legacy Giving: Open to the public. For those who are interested in ensuring Auchmar remains a multi use, community venue, continued public use, the continued restoration, etc. Assist F.O.A., the Auchmar Challenge, and the City of Hamilton, to do this through donations and gifts from estates and trusts.