ARCHITECTURE IN FREDONIA,
By Daniel D. Reiff
White Pine Press
176 pages, $15.95
GOING TO TOWN:
Architectural Walking Tours
in Southern Ontario
By Katherine Ashenburg
MacFarlane Walter & Ross
252 pages, $19.95
THE WELLAND CANALS
AND THEIR COMMUNITIES
By John N. Jackson
University of Toronto Press
535 pages, $70
The growing legion of architecture and history buffs in this area will welcome recent releases that provide both field guides and armchair studies this winter.
Closest to home, for many, will be Daniel Reiff's study of Fredonia architecture, from log cabins to the college campus designed by I.M. Pei's architectural firm. Actually an updated version of the hard-to-find catalog that accompanied the large exhibition Reiff organized in Fredonia in 1972, this book offers a tour in text and pictures of one of the more interesting villages in this region.
Reiff also contributes a valuable discussion of what has been lost in the way of demolished buildings, why it has been lost, and what our culture and our sense of community has lost in the process.
Many would wish that this book could be made required reading for all town planners and public works engineers, but it's also well worth a thoughtful reading by those already dedicated to preserving the buildings that serve as links to both our past and our communal psyche. Every village deserves a review like this.
Katherine Ashenburg, a Rochester native who now edits the Globe and Mail's arts and books section in Toronto, provides a similar service for 10 Ontario towns including Niagara-on-the-Lake and Stratford.
Her work includes historical sketches of the town, and detailed maps keyed to descriptions of architectural and historical landmarks. It's an exploration of community as well as of buildings and monuments, and it is well-illustrated with more than 300 photos.
By far the most scholarly work in this trio is Brock University professor John Jackson's detailed history of the Welland Canal system and its townships. More detailed in its exploration of influences and trends in the 170-year history of the canals, this adds dimensions of economic and political history to the visual and cultural studies in the guidebook-type studies.
A well-researched volume on the engineering, industrial and urban transformations in a region that has major effects on the Buffalo area as well as its own rich history, this book is a good edition to the library of any serious student of local history.