St.John's Anglican Cathedral in Saskatoon may well have become one of the beloved buildings of Saskatchewan's heritage community since the local congregation undertook a major conservation projet a few years ago that would help ensure the building is safe an sound for at least another 100 years. The preservation work inside and outside the building may have initially been carried out in the context of its centennial celebrations in 2012, but the exercice itself ended up having much deeper consequences on the people who call this place of worship theirs.
When people get together to raise funds for restauration projects, they start asking themselves who they can ask for help, what partnerships can they envisage to make it happen. They create teams and work as teams to sollicit support, advice and find the necessary expertise. In the process, the congregation becomes stronger and recruits new friends, possibly even... new members. A renewed sense of belonging emerges and contributes to sustaining the momentum. Well, that is the kind of story that resonates and speaks of success, that makes St. John's all the more attractive as a venue for events -- especially those events that celebrate heritage conservation achievements -- such as those held during Heritage Week.
Heritage properties contribute immensely to a community's sense of place. They nurture its pride. When a heritage property is suitable as event venue in its current form, with volunteers, space and exceptional accoustics, then it can do much more for a community. It becomes part of a community's tourism capacity, it can impart that local flavour to meetings and conferences, aspects inherently tied to program development potential.
In an age when the value of walkable cities and neighbourhoods become increasingly attractive to event planners looking for innovation and personalized programs, centrally-located heritage properties that come with a wide range of human resources and connections are more likely to rise to the top as preferred choices.