Location: Toronto, ON
When the merger to create The United Church of Canada took place in 1925, a number of congregations in the Presbyterian Church in Canada chose to remain a distinct denomination. Knox College, University of Toronto, was expected to serve as the new church’s main seminary. However, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario awarded it to the continuing Presbyterians. The faculty and most students of Knox left to form “Union College“ with the Faculty of Theology at Victoria University. Shortly renamed, Emmanuel College, the new college became a United Church of Canada seminary in 1928.
Emmanuel College’s architecture emulates the style of the buildings of Oxford and Cambridge in England, and represents the “robust and masculine“ collegiate Gothic style dating back to the 17th century. In Georgetown gray, constructed with Credit Valley ashlar with trimmings of Indiana limestone, the style emphasizes harmonic proportions, featuring massive windows, carved figures and heavy oak doors.
In 2009 funding became available for the College to refurbish their heritage windows which had received little to no maintenance in nearly 100 years. Initially the College had planned to replace the old windows with new ones, however, concerns for sustainability were brought up and heritage advocates at Victoria University were motivated to seek an alternative conservation solution.
The decision was made to restore the existing windows rather then replace them for a multitude of reasons. With growing concerns to reduce the University’s carbon footprint the amount of waste that would be produced by the disposal of the heritage windows would mean sending hundreds of square feet of glass, lead and steel to landfills. Other contributing factors were the cost of disposal, the cost of new windows, and then of course loosing the heritage look and feel of the 18th century building.
After thorough research, EDG was contracted to carry out the immense project of restoring the over 900 heritage windows within the building. EGD went forward on the deliverables as the General Contractor for the project which included the restoration of the leaded glass panels, the hardware, the steel frames as well as stone and masonry work on the interior and exterior of the building.
EGD carried out the work over two seasons while the College was not in session. This project showcases how important maintenance of heritage buildings and windows are essential to the functionality of the space and the reduced chance in having to conduct such an immense restoration project. With the now restored windows the University of Victoria and occupants of Emmanuel College are delighted with their sustainably improved space.