Petition calls on council to stop Forward House demolition plan

Forward House, June 2017 – (The Leader/Blancher photo)

SOUTH DUNDAS – A petition has been launched in Iroquois to stop the demolition of the Forward House. South Dundas council voted to proceed with demolishing the deteriorating structure at its February 6th meeting.

The petition, located in businesses in Iroquois, calls for the municipality to rescind the planned demolition, and study other alternatives.

“The question has to be asked why South Dundas council ignored the warnings about the ongoing deterioration of Forward House,” said in the petition.

The Forward House was identified by the Iroquois Waterfront Committee in their plan to council in 2016 as a building to be repaired and integrated as a gateway to the waterfront.

Forward House was constructed by Michael Carman the second according to Murray Richer, curator of the Carman House Museum. The house was built between 1815 and 1820, of stone, with wood timbers for floor beams and rafters.

“The timbers likely came from the British fort at Point Iroquois that was never built,” said Richer.

During the War of 1812, Michael Carman was contracted by the [British] Royal Navy to construct a fort at the point, following the American raid at Touissant’s Island in September 1812 Richer explained. Carman and his son harvested the timber for the fort and were paid with two chests of silver.

“That is how he paid for the construction of what is now known as Carman House.”

Some of the large timbers from the never-built fort were used for floor and ceiling joists in the Carman House.

“It is very likely the same sort of thing happened with the Forward House,” he said.

The building received its name after being owned by A. E. Forward, an engineer who married into the Carman family. Richer believed Forward was involved with canals including the Williamsburg Canal, and a plan by the Canadian government in the 1800’s to build a canal between the Ottawa River and Lake Superior.

Along with Elizabeth Manor, now a private home located on Elizabeth Drive, the three houses are the only remaining stone buildings from Iroquois predating the St. Lawrence-Seaway project in the 1950’s.

Richer told The Leader he is concerned about the precedent set with the demolition of Forward House.

“People around here scream about what they lost with the Seaway project, yet here is something in front of them and council decides this. I think when council looked at the amount to fix Forward House, they forgot they don’t have to do all that work at once.”

“It seems like everything being done by this council is because of a dollar figure, not what it means to the community,” said Richer.