The Mack Laing Heritage Society of the Comox Valley Newsletter
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MLHS Newsletter No. 2 - January 2017
The MLHS will hold an evening of entertainment on Saturday, February 25, 2017, at the Little Red Church in Comox.

The evening will feature Comox Valley playwright and entertainer Judy Johnson who will present skits, readings, music and songs. Anyone who can play a musical instrument is encouraged to bring it. There will also be a silent auction.

More details will be presented in the next MLHS newsletter and will wrap up with some special entertainment.

Doors will open at 6:30 pm, there will be a short AGM and refreshments will be available.
Shakesides, January 15, 2017
The fate of this sturdy home, built in 1949 by renowned Comox naturalist, Hamilton Mack Laing, is still unknown.

Wouldn't creating the museum Laing intended (with the trust money left to the Town of Comox for the purpose), in the park he also gave to the Town, be a wonderful way to celebrate Canada's 150th Anniversary? Laing was born 134 years ago and died at the age of 99.

This project need cost the Comox taxpayer nothing - and it's almost 35 years overdue!
The next meeting of the MLHS will be Thursday,  February 2, 2017, at 3 pm - 4 pm in the upstairs meeting room of Quality Foods, Driftwood Mall, Courtenay. Anyone is welcome to attend meetings, which occur monthly, on the first Thursday of every month.

Richard Somerset Mackie, author of "Hamilton Mack Laing - Hunter Naturalist", will be giving a lecture for the Elder College in the Stan Hagen Theatre at North Island College in Courtenay, Saturday, February 4, 2017 from 10 am to noon.

The talk is entitled "Dead Dog or Land of Plenty? Creating and Effacing History in the Comox Valley."  For a description, see page 11 of this newsletter:

Mackie was the first person to stay in Shakesides after Laing's death in 1982. He collected his papers, diaries, books and records and used them to produce the book, which was published in 1985.

The MLHS has, to date, collected more than 900 signatures on its petition to save Shakesides - ten times the number who sighed a petition to demolish Baybrook. Shakesides sits in a public park. Both the house and Mack Laing Park were deeded to the Town of Comox by Hamilton Mack Laing. Surely it's time to honour this generous gift and create a small nature house and museum to honour his environmental legacy.

On December 6, 2016, Peter van Loan, Conservative critic for Canadian Heritage and National Historic Sites, introduced a Private Member’s Bill for the rehabilitation of historic buildings in Canada. Designed to support those who invest in our cultural heritage, this Bill will have the potential to encourage rehabilitation of properties in the Canadian Register of Historic Places. The Bill is supported by Heritage BC and the National Trust of Canada.

On January 17, 2017, the National Trust for Canada released a tool kit to help Canadians get historic places on the national agenda. 
An Historic Opportunity for Historic Places  provides information to urge support for Bill C-323 – An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act (Rehabilitation of Historic Property) – and respond to the Minister of the Environment’s national roundtable consultation – Let’s Talk Parks, Canada! – launched on January 9.   

“In the thirty years between 1970 and 2000, Canada lost more than 20% of its historic building stock, and losses continue apace,” said Natalie Bull, the Trust’s executive director, speaking from Ottawa.  “Taken together, Bill C-323 and the Minister’s roundtable present an historic opportunity to tell elected officials that Canada’s historic places matter, and that federal actions are needed to help save and renew them.” 

Such a bill would remove most costs from the operation of a museum at Shakesides - as per Mack Laing's explicit Will.

Furthermore, for our 150th anniversary, the provincial government is also making potential  funds available for the restoration of Shakesides:

British Columbia | Canada 150: Celebrating B.C. Communities and their Contributions to Canada, Peter Fassbender, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development said, "Arts, culture and heritage are at the core of British Columbia's cultural identity. We have a wealth of stories to contribute to Canada 150 and an opportunity to celebrate the diversity of our province. Investing in long-term cultural legacies will support our communities in sharing B.C.'s stories for generations to come."

​There is obviously no end of federal and provincial funding available to restore Shakesides, and  comply with the terms of the Mack Laing Trust.  So, could somebody please explain to the public why Mayor Paul Ives and Comox​ Council are so hell bent on destroying national heritage at Shakesides, in the very year when Canada is supposed to celebrate 150 years by protecting and restoring national heritage?
Who are these people who call themselves Canadians and destroy their heritage?


Read up on the history of both Baybrook and Shakesides, and learn more about Mack Laing himself, on the MLHS website:
This was the site of Baybrook house, Mack Laing's first home, on January 15, 2017, a year and a half after it was demolished in August 2015, supposedly to allow the site to return to its natural state. Owners of homes to the rear of the park, who are relative newcomers to the area, were among the 90 people who swayed Council to destroy the home, a historically rare Aladdin Reddi-Built kit home built in 1922 on land cleared by Laing himself.
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