bEAvER LAkE STORIES AND ThE PARADOXIcAL SyNTAgMA OF MODERN hERITAgE by gjjur4356

VIEWS: 125 PAGES: 10

									                                                                                                                             The newly-restored Pavillon lac-aux-castors, or Beaver Lake Pavilion
                                                                                                                             (fig. 1), is a distinctive modern building located in Mount Royal Park,



     bEAvER LAkE
                                                                                                                             Montreal, Quebec. Hazen Sise and Guy Desbarats, later partners in the
                                                                                                                             highly successful firm of ARCOP, designed the pavilion (completed
                                                                                                                             1958) for Parks Services of Montreal.1 A seventeenth-century farmhouse
                                                                                                 cynthia haMMond
                                                                                                                             on the outskirts of Montreal haunts this ice-skaters’ retreat from the



     STORIES AND
                                                                                                                             cold; signifiers of Quebecois rural vernacular resonate in the
                                                                                                                             dimensions, materials and formal decisions.2 Beaver Lake Pavilion
                                                                                                                             holds a multi-faceted mirror up to history, reflecting an image of
50                                                                                                                           regional architectural identity within its distinctive modern form.       51




     ThE PARADOXIcAL
     SyNTAgMA OF
     MODERN hERITAgE

     1  the phrase “paradoxical               2  guy desbarats refers to “a          fig.	1	 Beaver Lake pavilion/Pavillon
     syntagma” is borrowed from: France       good French canadian farmhouse         lac-aux-castors, hazen sise and 
     vanlaetham, “the difficulté d’etre of    i knew back near Mirabel” as a key     guy desbarats, designed 1954, 
     the modern age” in the Journal of        inspiration for the pavilion in his    completed 1958, Montreal, Quebec; 
     architecture 9 (summer, 2004)            interview with Jim donaldson           restoration by pierina saia in 
     157-171. the first landscape design      of 1998. see alumni interviews,        association with réal paul, 2006
     for the pavilion was executed by         school of architecture, Mcgill 
     Frederick gage todd in 1937-38.          university (11 november 1998), 
                                              online transcript. updated 16 
                                              september 2006. <www.mcgill.ca/
                                              architecture/aluminterviews/ 
                                              desbarats/> (accessed 7 February 
                                              2007).
                                   fig.	2	 interior stairwell, Beaver Lake 
                                   pavilion/Pavillon lac-aux-castors

                                   fig.	3	 view of cedar ceiling, Beaver 
                                   lake pavilion/Pavillon Lac-aux-castors
                                                                              The mirror reflects, further, if not the future, then a desire for the
                                                                              future public life of this building. As part of the vulnerable cache of
                                                                              modern buildings in Canada, the pavilion’s recent, award-winning
                                                                              restoration is a defense for the collective architectural culture of
                                                                              Canadian modernism.3 Equally, it resounds within the discourse of a
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                                                                              politically emergent, Quebecois cultural and social history, and its
                                                                              contemporary parallel: the accelerating urban preservation movement
                                                                              in the province as a whole. These two “publics” are intersected by the
                                                                              public that uses this space on a daily and weekly basis. It is useful to
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                                                                              examine the architecture and restoration of Beaver Lake Pavilion
 52                                                                           through these adjacent, and at times, competing publics.                                                                            53

                                                                                 Financed by the City of Montreal and the Société d’Habitation du
                                                                              Québec, Power Corporation and Les Amis de la Montagne, the restoration
                                                                              makes a respectful and creative homage to the original design. Pierina
                                                                              Saia began work on the pavilion in 2003, completing the project in
                                                                              2006. A new lighting system4 and artist-designed wall panels5 are now
                                                                              integrated with the pavilion’s distinctive butterfly roof, interior
                                                                              features and careful siting. Saia removed incongruous additions, and
                                                                              made exact replications of the original, aluminum fenestration. The
                                                                              work included resurfacing of the concrete and original formwork, as
                                                                              well as repairs to the terrazzo floors, cherrywood paneling and
                                                                              columns, and to the suspended, cedar lattice ceiling. The cloakroom
                                                                              below is enhanced by retrofitted restrooms, while new benches with
                                                                              built-in lockers keep the view to the exterior clear. The expansive
                                                                              dining area, above, no longer has the Charles Eames’ furniture from
                                                                              the 1950s, but the new choices retain the sense of lightness and
                                                                              precision found in the journey throughout the space. Of particular
                                                                              note are the restored, central staircase and lattice ceiling,6 where the
                                                                              design’s debt to Alvar Aalto and Scandinavian modernism may be
                                                                              most evident (figs. 2-3).7

                                                                                                                               3  the pavilion won both le prix          6  this feature is, unfortunately, 
                                                                                                                               orange and the ordre des archi-           under some threat.saia explains that 
                                                                                                                               tects du Québec award, both for           safety concerns for future customers 
                                                                                                                               restoration, 2006 and 2007 respec-        to the planned, paying restaurant on 
                                                                                                                               tively. restoration: réal paul, projet    the second floor, may lead to the 
                                                                                                                               manager; pierina saia, project            walling in of the staircase. personal 
                                                                                                                               architect.                                interview, 30 January 2007, Mcgill 
                                                                                                                                                                         university. 
                                                                                                                               4  Jérémia gendron, hélène 
                                                                                                                               Fortin, dionisios psychas, lighting       7  desbarats, alumni interviews: 
                                                                                                                               designers.                                “[in the 1950s] aalto quickly became 
                                                                                                                                                                         my hero, and still is.”
                                                                                                                               5  claude vermette and Mariette 
                                                                                                                               rousseau, integrated artistic ele-
                                                                                                                               ments.
                                   8  other important examples in          9  city of Montreal, “directional     11  arpin and Bergeron 128-129. 
                                   Montreal would include the public       statement: ville de Montréal: heri-   recent publications elaborate this 
                                   housing projects, Benny’s Farm          tage policy” urban heritage 2004.     connection, such as, architecture, 
                                   (harold J. doran, 1946) and Les         < http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/pls/    forme urbaine et identité collective, 
                                   appartements Jeanne-Mance (Ma-
                                   clennan, greenspoon, Freedlander, 
                                                                           portal/> (accessed 25 May, 2007).     Luc noppen, ed. (Québec: septen-
                                                                                                                 trion, céLat, 1995); patrimoine et 
                                                                                                                                                          cultural heritage at UQAM (Université du Québec à Montréal), state,
                                                                           docs/page/patrimoine_urbain_en/
                                   dunne, 1958); and the town of 
                                                                           media/documents/enonce_cen.
                                                                                                                 patrimonialisation du Québec et          “The history of Quebec is a history of builders. From the conquest,
                                   Mount royal post office (Jean                                                 d’ailleurs, Martin drouin, ed. (Mon-
                                   Michaud and raymond t. affleck, 
                                                                           pdf>. 
                                                                                                                 tréal: éditions Multimondes/collec-      inch by inch, of the wilderness, up until the gigantic hydro-electric
                                   1955). there are many examples of       10  roland arpin and yves             tion cahiers de l’institut du patri-
                                   modern, domestic architecture in        Bergeron, “developing a cultural      moine de L’uQaM, 2006); and Lucie        works of recent decades, it is the history of a small nation continuously
                                   Montreal, and in the public architec-
                                   ture of other Quebec towns. see 
                                                                           policy on heritage for Quebec” 
                                                                           Museum international 58, 4 (2006): 
                                                                                                                 k. Morisset, La meemoire du pay-
                                                                                                                 sage: historie de la forme urbaine 
                                                                                                                                                          on the advance that is being written … we must now add heritage to
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                                   claude Bergeron, “L’Ère de la ban-      70.                                   d’un centre-ville: saint roch, Qué-      the above”.12
                                   lieue, 1945-1970”, architectures du                                           bec (Québec: Les presses de 
                                   xxe siècle au Québec (Quebec:                                                 L’université Laval, 2001).                  If architecture, by way of building, is part of the advance of the
                                   Musée de la civilization, 1989) 
                                   143-208.
                                                                                                                 12  arpin and Bergeron 70.               nation of Quebec, and if the identification, protection and preservation
                                                                                                                                                          of built heritage are equally a part of that advance, then it becomes
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                                                                                                                                                          clear that the restoration of Beaver Lake Pavilion is a significant part
 54                                    Apart from these important features, the pavilion is exceptional in                                                of the articulation and execution of that progress. Of course, this is a                                                              55

                                   Montreal as it is among the earliest examples of post-war modernism                                                    meaning, or signification for the pavilion that has been applied
                                   to be built in the city with public funds.8 It is also the first modern                                                retroactively. As far as the architects’ intentions can be discerned, the
                                   building whose restoration was publicly funded. The parentheses of                                                     commission was less an opportunity to explore a national culture
                                   public funding offer the opportunity to examine the building within                                                    than it was a break in the culturally repressive regime of le grand
                                   its local, national, and international contexts. How do the commission                                                 noiceur, or the “great darkness” of Quebec at the mid-century point.
                                   and design of the pavilion relate to the utopian post-nationalism of                                                   Under the regime of Maurice Duplessis, premier of the province from
                                   certain strains of modern architecture? What are the tensions between                                                  1936-39, and again from 1944-1959, education and services for the
                                   the universalizing language of heritage, the particularities of                                                        general public were kept to a minimum, while rights for workers
                                   preservation activities in Quebec, and the specificities (architectural                                                diminished and clerical power increased. Tradition, “rural” values
                                   and social) of this particular commission? Via the example of Beaver                                                   and deference to paternalistic authority were the hallmarks of the
                                   Lake Pavilion, it is possible to consider the architectural debates of the                                             Duplessis era, but these values lacked neither detractors nor resistance.
                                   post-war period, and the unexpected parallel between the emergence                                                     For Sise, a professor of architectural history at McGill University
                                   of preservation discourse and practice in the 1950s, and the emergence                                                 fascinated with modernism, and for Desbarats, a young architect
                                   of “modern heritage” as a category of our own times.                                                                   whose training was steeped in Quebec vernacular, Beaver Lake
                                       The timing and funding of the Beaver Lake Pavilion restoration                                                     Pavilion was a chance to explore, in fact, an architecture that was
                                   speak to current civic and cultural concerns in Montreal, and in                                                       hoped to exceed nationalisms and chauvinisms, while at the same
                                   Quebec as a whole. Montreal’s recent designation as a UNESCO “City                                                     time respond to a local history of building practice that spoke to the
                                   of Design” (2006) marks a moment of international recognition for the                                                  fortitude of the traditions and people of the region.13
                                   city, which is nurturing hopes of even greater recognition within the
                                   “world heritage” category. Bids to have sectors of the city recognized                                                                                                   13  the influence of the local and        Montreal as part of his student work, 
                                                                                                                                                                                                            the international on this building can    explains that the affective aspects of 
                                   as public heritage9 must be understood as part of a broad (but                                                                                                           be extracted from various sources         the design were due to his “roots in 
                                   longstanding) campaign in Quebec to establish heritage as a priority                                                                                                     beyond the pavilion itself. France 
                                                                                                                                                                                                            vanlaethem explains that desbarats 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Quebec and canada”. hazen sise, 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      before joining arcop, was profes-
                                   of the state. A state-directed “heritage system”10 for Quebec, as it has                                                                                                 visited the 1951 Festival of Britain,     sor of architectural history at Mcgill 
                                                                                                                                                                                                            where he and other canadian archi-        university, and would have been 
                                   been articulated thus far, is very much linked to questions of collective                                                                                                tects were exposed to modernism as        aware of international architectural 
                                                                                                                                                                                                            expressed in civic plans and for          developments, but also, according 
                                   identity, shared memory and nationalism.11 Significantly, however, it                                                                                                    public purposes. “Le pavillon du lac      to desbarats, understood the desire 
                                   also is deeply tethered to the built environment. In their recent article                                                                                                aux castors dans le parc du mont 
                                                                                                                                                                                                            royal à Montréal” Bulletin (doco-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      to use the pavilion to express roots: 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “hazen shared [these roots]. hazen 
                                   on cultural policy and heritage, Roland Arpin, Director-General of the                                                                                                   momo Québec) 1 (hiver 1994): 2.           shared them.” desbarats, alumni 
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Equally, desbarats, who produced          interviews. 
                                   Musée du Québec, and Yves Bergeron, professor of museology and                                                                                                           an extensive study on housing in 
                                   14  petronella van dijk, (pamphlet)    16  réal paul in association with 
                                   Mount royal revisited (Montreal:       pierina saia, press release, 
                                   centre de la Montagne, nd) 9.          “restoration of the Beaver Lake 
                                                                          chalet, Mount royal park” (2006)  
                                   15  group cardinal-hardy, land-
                                   scape architects; deslisle, despaux 
                                                                          p. 3.
                                                                                                                                                       Corbusier (Cambridge, Mass., 1963). At Beaver Lake Pavilion, the
                                   et associé, teknika, engineers.
                                                                                                                                                       generosity of scale in the open plan, 25 foot bays, and balcony/portico
                                                                                                                                                       extends to the surrounding terraces, also recently redesigned. 15
                                                                                                                                                       Through its transparency and accessibility, the pavilion welcomes the
                                                                                                                                                       visitor, embraces the surrounding park, while integrating art and
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                                                                                                                                                       architecture in a series of artist-designed overlays along the west front.
                                                                                                                                                       The bright crimson and pumpkin sections of the enormous spandrel
                                                                                                                                                       panels on the east façade are the design of Claude Vermette and
                                                                                                                                                       Mariette Rousseau, whose work offered Saia “a rare opportunity for           fig.	4	 Beaver Lake pavilion/Pavillon
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                                                                                                                                                       symbiosis between art and architecture”, one that reprised the artists’      lac-aux-castors, view from ski hill 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    across Beaver Lake, and towards 
 56                                                                          The pavilion is situated two-thirds from the peak of Mount Royal, a       role in the original collaboration between Sise and Desbarats.16             saint-Joseph’s oratory                  57

                                                                          public park first laid out by American landscape architect, Frederick
                                                                          Law Olmsted in 1874. The park covers approximately ten square
                                                                          kilometers in the city, or about fourteen percent of the total land
                                                                          surface of the island of Montreal.14 The park is accessible via a broad
                                                                          pathway – Olmsted Trail – that winds around the topography of the
                                                                          “mountain”. While there are only a few buildings scattered over the
                                                                          site of the park proper, major hospitals and university buildings have
                                                                          taken possession of the north and south borders of the park, while
                                                                          neighbourhoods of high property value, Outremont and Westmount,
                                                                          shore up the east and west flanks of the mountain. The park is,
                                                                          nonetheless, broadly understood as a public possession, and each week
                                                                          thousands of residents and tourists take to the footpaths and cross-
                                                                          country trails of Mount Royal. The park is also accessible via Chemin
                                                                          Remembrance, which cuts over the mountain between the park and
                                                                          two adjoining cemeteries. Either route will lead to the pavilion, located
                                                                          in the area of Mount Royal known, from Olmsted’s original plan, as
                                                                          “the Glades” – a gently rolling, landscaped zone around a clover-leaf,
                                                                          artificial lake which gives Beaver Lake Pavilion its rather awkward
                                                                          name. (Fig. 4)
                                                                             The pavilion is set into rock at the eastern edge of the lake, looking
                                                                          west over the water (and in winter, skating rink) and towards Mount
                                                                          Royal’s peak. The three-bay, reinforced concrete building features a
                                                                          “butterfly” roof, curtain walls on three sides, and a varied-width portico
                                                                          beneath a cantilevered balcony at the second story. The second story is
                                                                          also accessible via a curved ramp to the south, evoking the modernist
                                                                          tradition of using a ramp to traverse open space, either within a
                                                                          building, such as at Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye (Poissy, France, 1929-
                                                                          1930), or on the exterior, such as at the Carpenter Centre, also by Le
                                   fig.	5	 common room, Ferme saint-                                                                                       17  desbarats, interviews. 
                                   gabriel, pointe saint-charles, 
                                                                                                                                                           18  see harold kalman, “new 
                                   Quebec. ramsay traquair archive, 
                                                                                                                                                           France: domestic architecture”, in a 
                                   Mcgill university
                                                                                                                                                           history of canadian architecture, 
                                   fig.	6	 réal paul in association with                                                                                   vol. i (toronto, new york, oxford: 
                                   pierina saia, ground floor plan,                                                                                        oxford up, 1995) 40-52.
                                   Beaver Lake pavilion/Pavillon lac-
                                                                                                                                                           19  artists of note in this regard 
                                   aux-castors (note hearth at bottom 
                                                                                                                                                           could include clarence gagnon, 
                                   left)
                                                                                                                                                           ozias Leduc, and anne savage. 
                                                                                                                                                           with regard to land in literature, see 
                                                                                                                                                           Magali compan and katarzyna 
                                                                                                                                                           pieprzak, eds., Land and Landscape 
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                                                                                                                                                           in Francographic Literature: remap-
                                                                                                                                                           ping uncertain territories (new-
                                                                                                                                                           castle: cambridge scholars pub-
                                                                                                                                                           lishing, 2007).
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 58                                                                            In an interview from 1998, Guy Desbarats discusses the formal                                                         59

                                                                            precedents of Beaver Lake Pavilion, beyond the modernist pavilion and
                                                                            the chalet. Beaver Lake, Desbarats explaines, “began another stream in
                                                                            my career … I was determined to be a regionalist. [T]he plan and the
                                                                            structure… the way it sits and the massing, were inspired by a good
                                                                            French Canadian farmhouse I knew back near Mirabel [Montreal], built
                                                                            on a hillside with verandas. It’s a basic French Canadian farmhouse
                                                                            type.”17 And certainly, the fieldstone that constitutes the rear elevation
                                                                            and integration of the pavilion into the rock to the west, evokes not only
                                                                            the materials of a rural farmhouse, but also its construction. The
                                                                            dramatic butterfly roof could be interpreted as a response to the peaked
                                                                            roof tradition of Quebecois farmhouses, or perhaps a stylization of the
                                                                            dormer windows familiar to this same type. Equally, the projecting
                                                                            balcony could be an abstraction of the flared eaves of many seventeenth
                                                                            and eighteenth century farmhouses in Quebec vernacular housing.18
                                                                            Certainly the glazed curtain walls that comprise three of the pavilion’s
                                                                            facades have no precedent in regionalism; indeed, they are a valentine
                                                                            to the expressive possibilities of light and site. But the low-ceilinged,
                                                                            ground storey of the common room at Ferme Saint-Gabriel, Pointe-
                                                                            Saint-Charles, (fig. 5) is arguably evocative of the broad, rectangular
                                                                            plan of the pavilion. Moreover, the purpose of the ground floor common
                                                                            room of Ferme Saint-Gabriel is that of the lower floor of Beaver Lake
                                                                            Pavilion: to gather and share the warmth of a hearth situated at the far
                                                                            end of the space. (Fig. 6) Speculations aside, the combination of a shallow,
                                                                            lower storey with a soaring, spacious upper has clear resonance with
                                                                            the Quebec building tradition (fig. 7), as well as with the Quebec
                                                                            landscape tradition in painting and literature, in which land, and the
                                                                            homes on that land, become tropes for themes of belonging, identity,
                                                                            and the sense of place.19 As professor and student at McGill, respectively,
                                   fig.	7	 plans, sections and elevations                                         20  From the beginning of the 
                                   of the villeneuve house,                                                       twentieth century until today, 
                                   charlesbourg, Quebec, probably c.                                              fieldwork investigation of Quebec’s 
                                   1700. v. d. Bouchard. ramsay                                                   colonial, regional architecture has 
                                   traquair archive, Mcgill university                                            constituted a serious aspect of the 
                                                                                                                  training of architects and 
                                                                                                                  architectural historians at schools in 
                                                                                                                  Montreal and later, at Laval. see 
                                                                                                                  annmarie adams, Martin Bressani, 
                                                                                                                  “canada: the Edge condition,” the 
                                                                                                                  Journal of the society of 
                                                                                                                  architectural historians 62, 1 
                                                                                                                  (March 2003): 76, 79.
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                                                                                                                  21  Like central park in new york, 
                                                                                                                  Mount royal was a site of contested 
                                                                                                                  intentions, but part of its purpose 
                                                                                                                  was attached to the late-nineteenth-
                                                                                                                  century enterprise to provide out-
                                                                                                                  door spaces for working people. 
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                                                                                                                  see a. L. Murray, “Frederick Law 
                                                                                                                  olmsted and the design of Mount 
 60                                Sise and Desbarats would have had considerable engagement with the             royal park, Montreal”, the Journal of 
                                                                                                                  the society of architectural histori-
                                                                                                                                                            61

                                   School of Architecture’s five decades of research into this tradition,         ans 26, 3 (october 1967): 163.

                                   through the teaching and texts of Ramsay Traquair, Gerard Morisset,            22  France vanlaethem, “the dif-
                                                                                                                  ficulté d’etre of the modern heri-
                                   and John Bland.20 As a space conceived in part for the working people          tage”, the Journal of architecture 9 
                                                                                                                  (summer 2004): 159.
                                   of Montreal,21 who have been predominantly French-speaking and                 23  several recent initiatives in this 
                                   Catholic, Beaver Lake Pavilion was a building that would address its           regard would include two confer-
                                                                                                                  ences organized by Modern canada 
                                   users through an architectural language that spoke in familiar words           and the society for the study of 
                                                                                                                  architecture in canada, respec-
                                   about a better future.                                                         tively: “conserving the Modern in 
                                      As the first modern building to be conserved with public funds in           canada” (6-8 May 2005) trent 
                                                                                                                  university, peterborough, ontario; 
                                   the city of Montreal, the pavilion poses an important locus for                “architectural history and heritagi-
                                                                                                                  zation in canada” (17-20 May 2007).
                                   reflection on the critical connections it summons between                      24  “report: Modernism is us”, 
                                   architecture, heritage, patrimoine, nation, memory and identity.               canadian architect 50 (august 
                                                                                                                  2005): 
                                   Modern heritage, as France Vanlaethem has argued, is a paradoxical
                                   syntagma, a construction whose meaning occurs in the relation of
                                   words, in this case, an apparent oxymoron. Within this concept, she
                                   continues, “ancient and modern, the permanent and the ephemeral,
                                   intermingle in confusion.”22 Added to this confusion is the fact that
                                   defenders of modern architectural heritage have struggled to develop
                                   cultural recognition for its merits, and its place within broader
                                   patrimonial schemes.23 Those acting on behalf of the future of our
                                   modern past, as it were, occupy an even deeper paradox. As Ian
                                   Panabaker puts it,

                                       The modernist “break from history” provided the basic strategy which
                                       drove our postwar development. It is ironic (or is it the end of irony?)
                                       that the [modern heritage movement] is becoming the means for
                                       consciously re-establishing the continuum of history.24
                                   25  vanlaethem 165.                     27  see peter dickinson and Brian    29  groupe-conseil sous la                 31  see, for example, david Lowen-
                                                                           young, “From depression to Quiet     présidence de monsieur roland              thal, possessed by the past: the 
                                   26  in her paper, “the gallicization 
                                                                           revolution” in a short history of    arpin, notre patrimoine: un présent        heritage crusade and the spoils of 
                                   of Montreal: public art and architec-
                                                                           Quebec (Mcgill-Queen’s up, 2003)     du passée (Québec: Le groupe-              history (new york: Free press, 
                                   ture during the Quiet revolution” 
                                   (canadian centre for architecture, 
                                                                           271-304, and the tremblay report, 
                                                                           quoted in same, 296.
                                                                                                                conseil sur la politique du patrimoine 
                                                                                                                culturel du Québec, 2000) 55.
                                                                                                                                                           1996); dolores hayden, the power 
                                                                                                                                                           of place: urban Landscapes as 
                                                                                                                                                                                                  become a crucial collision between architectural expression and
                                   Montreal, 4 april, 2003), art histo-
                                   rian annie gerin suggests that this     28  claude Bélanger, “tremblay       30  “La valeur patrimoniale d’un 
                                                                                                                                                           public history (cambridge, Mass.:      political intention in Montreal in the 1960s and 70s, its use of
                                                                                                                                                           Mit, 1995); Lisa Breglia, Monumen-
                                   effect was intentional, and part of 
                                   the movement towards sovereignty. 
                                                                           report and provincial autonomy in 
                                                                           the duplessis Era (1956).” read-
                                                                                                                bâtiment, en effet, ne tient pas à son 
                                                                                                                seul âge ou à sa rareté, mais bien au 
                                                                                                                                                           tal ambivalence: the politics of       regionalism is nevertheless at once powerful and, strangely, humble.
                                                                                                                                                           heritage (austin, texas: u of texas 
                                   see also drouin, op cit., for a dis-    ings in Quebec history, Marianopo-   sentiment d’appartenance qu’il 
                                                                                                                                                           p, 2006).                              It would be unfair to divide the signifying capacities of the pavilion
                                   cussion of the contested demolitions    lis college (1998) (updated 23       inspire et à la pertinence qu’il 
                                   of “golden square Mile” mansions,       august 2000) < http://faculty.       représente pour sa communauté.”                                                   into a binary, but still, one has the impression that the pavilion slipped
                                   the former homes of the predomi-        marianopolis.edu/c.belanger/que-     (55) while the report does name 
 b e aV e r l a k e S to r i e S




                                   nantly anglophone, late victorian,      bechistory/readings/tremblay.htm>    different communities in Montreal                                                 its progressive architecture past the Duplessis era, just as it slipped its
                                   and early-twentieth century elite.      (accessed 5 May 2007).               and Quebec, the establishment of 
                                                                                                                pertinence and cultural, if not actual, 
                                                                                                                                                                                                  call to collective identity past the vestiges of the old, anglophone
                                                                                                                ownership remains unclear.                                                        elite.
                                                                                                                                                                                                     Perhaps it was this double move that has protected the Beaver Lake
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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pavilion against the fate of many modern, public buildings that have
 62                                                                        The inevitable question is, which history? Modernism remains for                                                       fallen out of aesthetic and ideological favour. Despite the rumors of          63

                                                                           many the style of architecture that displaced a beloved building or                                                    demolishment and longstanding neglect, the pavilion survived the fiscal
                                                                           neighbourhood, in the name of progress and rationalization. The                                                        plummet after Expo 67, the October crisis aftermath, the postmodern
                                                                           cultivation of general appreciation for what modernism tried to do,                                                    era in architecture, and a slow economy through the 1980s and early
                                                                           and what it looks like, is still an uphill battle. Nevertheless, as                                                    1990s. In 1994, architectural historian and president of Docomomo,
                                                                           Vanlaethem suggests, in younger nations like Canada, “where social                                                     Quebec, France Vanlaethem, led a campaign to raise awareness of the
                                                                           modernization of the twentieth century occurred simultaneously                                                         pavilion’s state of decay, and its importance to the architectural heritage
                                                                           with national self-affirmation, modern architecture was placed at the                                                  of Quebec, and of the modern movement generally. Her efforts, coupled
                                                                           heart of the federal government’s cultural policy during the 1950s and                                                 with those of a non-profit group, The Friends of the Mountain (Les Amis
                                                                           1960s.”25 This situation is complicated in Quebec, where the remarkable                                                de la Montagne) culminated in the building’s protection as an historic
                                                                           programme of modern, public and corporate architecture built                                                           monument, and later, in the decision of the City of Montreal in 2003 to
                                                                           between 1955 and 1976 in Montreal, then under the political leadership                                                 award funds to the pavilion’s refurbishment. Vanlaethem’s publication
                                                                           of Jean Drapeau, had the effect of quite literally supplanting the                                                     (b) concerned itself with the history, design details and architectural
                                                                           architecture of former ruling classes and institutions, both anglophone                                                value of the pavilion. In contrast, a more recent, government-produced
                                                                           and Quebecois.26 While this wave of construction was largely inspired                                                  publication devoted to heritage in general in Quebec describes modern
                                                                           by successful bids to host Expo 67 and the 1976 Olympics, the                                                          architecture very rarely, and when it does, referred to it as “less
                                                                           association between architecture and a collective, Quebecois identity                                                  exceptional” than the built heritage of a previous era, particularly as
                                                                           had been established within the previous generation. Under (but in                                                     compared to that of religious institutions.29 The importance of the
                                                                           deliberate opposition to) Duplessis, who would die the year after the                                                  architecture of the twentieth century, the report continues, lies not in its
                                                                           Pavilion opened, the Tremblay Report was published in 1956. In this                                                    appearance, but in its affective relationship to and significance for “the
                                                                           report, Quebec emerges as “the primary defender of a threatened                                                        community”, which is not defined.30
                                                                           culture”, whose position in Canada is that of “accredited guardian of                                                     Saia’s work at Beaver Lake heralds the arrival of “modern heritage”
                                                                           French-Canadian civilization.”27 Although the Report would not find                                                    on the stage of Montreal’s urban agenda. Heritage, a deeply contested
                                                                           a full audience until the leadership of Jean Lesage, its effort to define                                              notion, has been a significant aspect of recent global discourse on the
                                                                           Quebecois identity through its unique culture was notable for its                                                      future of the built environment. As such, it has a powerful hand in the
                                                                           expression of broadly-shared sentiments, and for its simultaneous call                                                 shaping in local preservation and development policies of cities with
                                                                           to the past and to the future of Quebec.28 Modernism’s arrival in                                                      ambitious urban aspirations. The links between heritage, state, and
                                                                           Quebec coincides with this important period in Quebec’s history of                                                     tourism have been explored with vigor and insight during the past ten
                                                                           nationalism. If Beaver Lake Pavilion is an early example of what would                                                 years.31 Yet “heritage”, as a prescriptive and at times moralizing notion,
                                   32  unEsco, “world heritage,” 
                                   about world heritage (updated 29 
                                   May 2007) <http://whc.unesco.org/
                                   en/about/>. (accessed 29 May 
                                   2007).
                                                                                                                                                             deployed in universalizing rhetoric, with the effect that the heritage
                                   33  Breglia 28.
                                                                                                                                                             object – be it a building, a site, or a practice – is valued not for its evocation
                                   34  paolo scrivano, Filippo de pieri, 
                                   “representing the ‘historical                                                                                             of difference, but its assumed participation in a universal whole. Ten
                                   centre’ of Bologna: preservation 
                                   policies and reinvention of an urban                                                                                      years after David Lowenthal memorably coined the term, “heritage
                                   identity”, urban history review 33, 
                                   1 (Fall 2004): 
                                                                                                                                                             crusade”, it is important to ask what the effects of this contradiction, in
 b e aV e r l a k e S to r i e S




                                                                                                                                                             heritage policy and practice, have been.
                                                                                                                                                                One effect has been the growing body of criticism of heritage policy
                                                                                                                                                             and practice. As Lisa Breglia has observed in her study of the
                                                                                                                                                             commercialization of and hegemonic struggles over heritage sites in
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                                                                                                                                                             the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, “patrimony is a historically contingent
 64                                                                         continues to be deployed without question of the values and exclusions           practice that is as much related to the changing field of social relations           65

                                                                            that are embedded within it, values and exclusions which differ,                 as it is to material culture.”33 This observation alone is useful in
                                                                            necessarily, from place to place. The UNESCO World Heritage                      considering how the practice and discourse of urban preservation often
                                                                            Organization, which must be considered a forceful arbiter in the                 operate at a distance from critical thought. But these practices and
                                                                            understanding and use of this term, offers the following definition:             discourses, dependent rhetorically on what are, ultimately, unstable
                                                                                                                                                             categories, have altered little in this regard for the bulk of their twentieth
                                                                              Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what        century history. As Paolo Scrivano and Filippo De Pieri conclude in
                                                                              we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are        their study of early urban preservation in the city of Bologna, Italy, “One
                                                                              both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration … What makes the            of the main goals of the preservation policy was to build consensus
                                                                              concept of World Heritage exceptional is its universal application. World      among Bologna’s citizens; in doing this, administrators, architects, and
                                                                              Heritage sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the     planners tried to associate a sense of citizenship with a notion of shared
                                                                              territory on which they are located.32                                         tradition.”34 This is certainly the same call made in much heritage
                                                                                                                                                             propaganda today.
                                                                            The assumed necessity of heritage to identity-formation, and even to                Of course, the language of heritage has not failed to respond to
                                                                            life itself is explicit in this statement. This alone is worthy of some          critiques. On the contrary, the notion of heritage is continually
                                                                            critical interrogation, but I would like to attend to a less obvious             expanding, including an ever-greater number of situations, sites,
                                                                            tautology buried in the statement. Heritage is here a possession, perhaps        histories. In 2001 UNESCO adopted the concept of “intangible heritage”,
                                                                            cultural, perhaps shared, but nonetheless a possession, which will be            to encompass practices that in some way communicate or support a
                                                                            handed down to future generations. Yet in the same definition, heritage          community’s identity or roots. Indeed, while tourism revenues and the
                                                                            is also that which belongs to everyone, and therefore, no-one in                 attraction of potential investment are undeniably part of urban heritage
                                                                            particular. It is through the latter axis of the definition that UNESCO          policy, it is more emotional concepts such as collective identity, origins,
                                                                            positions itself as a politically unaffiliated organization, working on          and memory that remain at the heart of heritage policy in many locations.
                                                                            behalf of “all the peoples of the world”, but again, for no-one in particular.   While the expanded definition, above, is laudable on some levels, and
                                                                            The logic of ownership guarantees an affective connection between                can be understood as simply strategic on others, it remains troubling.
                                                                            individuals and whatever “heritage” is in question, while the                    While it is agreed in many intellectual disciplines that neither identity,
                                                                            organization moves above the inevitable cultural, political and                  origins nor memory are in any way essential or guaranteed, such
                                                                            economic differences that in fact create such strongly affective                 awareness has not yet permeated the public articulations of urban
                                                                            connections, waving the banner of another affective but generalized              heritage policy in a satisfying or substantial fashion. In other words, the
                                                                            concept, universality. The particular, in other words, is strategically          discourse of heritage remains anchored in oddly simplistic articulations
                                   35   réal paul in association with 
                                   pierina saia, press release, “resto-
                                   ration of the Beaver Lake chalet, 
                                   Mount royal park” (2006) p. 3.

                                   36   “Every Form of art has a politi-                                                                                     moves around and between the two. As Saia writes, “The skaters’
                                   cal dimension,” grey room, 2 
                                   (winter 2001): 123.                                                                                                       lounge is now arranged like an amphitheatre with the mountain as
                                                                                                                                                             stage.”35 And the men and women who visit the pavilion are indeed
                                                                                                                                                             players. These Tuesday evenings, or those Thursday evenings when
                                                                                                                                                             the dancing is from the Balkans and the Middle East, or Monday
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                                                                                                                                                             evenings when the dancing is folk-based, suggest a lens of interpretation
                                                                                                                                                             other than that of heritage for the pavilion and its considerable,
                                                                                                                                                             “intangible” worth: the lens of those publics who use the building. As
                                                                                                                                                             the dancers and the music occupy, temporarily, the building and its
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                                                                                                                                                             environs, they respond to its intentions and simultaneously, create a
 66                                                                        of collectivity and significance, which might not be a problem if not for         new identity for the pavilion. For a few hours, the pavilion becomes a         67

                                                                           the fact that the sites and buildings labeled “heritage” are often more           site of nostalgia and yearning for places and cultures that have nothing
                                                                           complex than such articulations can allow. The risk is that heritage              to do with either modernist fantasies of postnationality, nor yet with
                                                                           practice is framed, that is, defended and rationalized in terms that are          regionalist traditions. The pavilion becomes a spectacle in and of
                                                                           insufficient to the actual nuances of a place. And it is an interesting           itself, as the lake and the mountain fade into evening darkness. The
                                                                           question: what, if not collective identity, origins and memory, should            windows no longer provide a view to the trees and hills; they provide a
                                                                           motivate the restoration of such locations?                                       view to what is happening inside the building, and at its doorstep.
                                                                              There have been over a century of visitors to Mount Royal: tourists,           Different communities intersect in this place, which works to briefly
                                                                           dedicated joggers, cyclists and walkers. While Beaver Lake Pavilion is            shelter culturally-specific identification, pleasure, even education
                                                                           not the only site to see or building to visit, it is nonetheless a particularly   (anyone may join in and learn a few steps). This makes the pavilion a
                                                                           social site. Skaters have taken to the frozen lake in winter since 1938,          messy place, ontologically, but, as Chantal Mouffe has argued,
                                                                           while paddleboaters and picnickers benefit from the site in summer.               collective identifications have to do with desire, with fantasies, with
                                                                           Tobogganists, cross-country skiers, tourists and nature enthusiasts               everything that is precisely not interests or the rational.”36 Collective
                                                                           also use this space. In addition to refurbishing the intended purpose             expressions of desire are untidy things, especially when mixed with
                                                                           of this modern gem, the restoration of Beaver Lake Pavilion has                   the collective desires of others, and this is why they elude representation
                                                                           reframed a variety of unexpected uses to which the pavilion has been              in even the most carefully inclusive documents on heritage policy.
                                                                           put in the past fifty-five years. Multiple constituencies within the rich             The pavilion is a light-filled, convivial, user-friendly place. Restored
                                                                           social and political diversity of Montreal use the building on a regular          in full to its original purpose and aesthetics, it makes an excellent, in
                                                                           basis, transforming it temporarily for different cultural activities.             fact, cheery argument for modern architecture generally, and for the
                                                                              The Tuesday night tradition of Israeli folkdancing on the pavilion’s           historic traces of modern architecture as very deserving of public
                                                                           terrace, led by Master of Ceremonies, Maurice Perez, has been held                funds. Beyond this argument, however, the pavilion makes another,
                                                                           every July and August since the early 1980s. (Fig. 8-9) Since the                 equally important thesis. But to recognize it, one must visit on a warm
                                                                           completion of the renovation, these regular users have returned to                night between July and August, between seven and ten in the evening.
                                                                           their tradition, half as old as the pavilion itself. The upper storey of          Then, dancers glide and sometimes stumble over the terraces, backlit
                                                                           the pavilion, as well as the balcony allow for the kind of contemplative          by the beautifully fenestrated curtain walls of the pavilion. As one
                                                                           appreciation of the renovation that it truly deserves: from there, the            moves away into the night, the pavilion lights up like a golden lantern,
                                                                           original purpose of the pavilion is clear. It is an aperture through              its amber and vermillion panels casting a warm glow onto the moving
                                                                           which one may simply gaze out onto Beaver Lake and the old ski hill,              bodies, the spectators, the lovers, the cleaning staff, and the great
                                                                           but importantly, it allows also a view to the rich pageant of life that           variety of passing participants in this diminutive modern experiment.
                                   fig.	8	 dancing, Beaver Lake                                                              ILLUSTRATION	CREDITS	
                                   pavilion/Pavillon lac-aux-castors,                                                        figs.	1–7	courtesy cynthia hammond; fig.	8	 courtesy Mcgill university.
                                   July 2007
 b e aV e r l a k e S to r i e S
Ai




 68                                The paradoxical syntagma of modern heritage at Beaver Lake Pavilion                                                                                                               69

                                   is worth the mess, whether one encounters it through the battle to
                                   preserve modern architectural monuments, or in the defense,
                                   preservation, and enjoyment of spaces for diverse and contradictory
                                   publics.



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