Thursday December 7, 2006 saw the end of a long journey and the first step in another with the official unveiling of the renovated portico at Regal Road School.
It was a blustery cold day that reminds one that winter is on its way, but there were smiles amid the shivers as Principal Seija Hyhko led the assembled students, staff, dignitaries, parents and community representatives through the ceremony.
After some brief words over a bullhorn the ribbon was cut and it was inside for a short reception.
This unveiling represents the culmination of 6 years of determined effort that brought together the school, the school board, the city and the Regal Heights community. The repairs were originally requested by the Regal Heights Residents’ Association in 2001. They have been completed through the generosity of the Heritage Preservation branch of the City, under the auspices of the Toronto District School Board. The project was spearheaded and coordinated by RHRA member Harry Lay.
The first effort was to convince the relevant jurisdictions of the value of restoring the portico to its original historic state. The next effort was to acquire the necessary funding. After that, there was nothing left but the details.
Regal Road School Portico Restoration in 2006
The details are that this is a first, a significant first, where different facets of the community had come together to restore a piece of history, a piece of scholastic history. The first school in Toronto to be named a heritage building is also the first school to have been historically restored.
Now for some technical details. The school was built in 1914. The portico, comprised of four columns supporting a mantle, a neo classical design in Birmingham Sandstone. In 2007 the City of Toronto enacted a by-law designating the Regal Road School building as a heritage structure, and in 2010 the school property was designated a heritage parcel. Regal Road School is one of three structures within Regal Heights with historical designations, the others being the Dufferin/St. Clair Library and the Marshall G. Galloway house at 70 Regal Road.
According to Architect Edwin Rouse, the portico restoration was less complicated then originally envisioned as it turned out there was very little need for repair but that it would be necessary to remove a veneer of grey portland cement that had been layered over the portico like icing on a cake. The challenge was to remove the icing without harming the cake, not complicated, just a lot of hard work. That painstaking task fell to Henry Lourenco and John Santos of Limen Masonry. “They did a tremendous job”, says Rouse, “they are truly to be commended.”
Also to be commended is Harry Lay whose four children had attended the school. He was the impetus behind this project, which began back at the beginning of the millenium, with then Principal Robinson, who was also on hand. “I am delighted to see that this milestone partnership between the community and the school board has borne fruit today”, said Robinson. A sentiment shared by Principal Hyhko.
“This is a real jewel in the community.” stated Ward 17 Councillor Palacio. “It would be good to see more restorations like this.”
(with thanks to MyStClair.com for material in this post)