The Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna has announced the Richmond Hill David Dunlap Observatory (RHDDO) as one of eight new national historic designations across Canada.
The property is a 76.5-hectare site located in central Richmond Hill, between Bayview Avenue to the east, the CN rail line to the west, 16th Avenue to the south and Hillsview Drive to the north. When construction was complete in 1935, the main telescope was the second largest in the world and the largest in Canada.
“We are thrilled that the Richmond Hill David Dunlap Observatory was recognized as a historical designation,” said Mayor Dave Barrow. “This site is an important part of Canadian history and Richmond Hill’s heritage.”
Ward 3 Councillor Godwin Chan, the ward where the DDO is situated, is elated. He is particularly grateful to last-term Council for adopting his 2017 Member Motion seeking designation of DDO as a National Historic Site, and thankful for the staff completing the application for submission to Parks Canada for consideration, as well as community groups and individuals for their hard work to help preserve the cultural heritage of the DDO.
A number of significant studies have taken place at the Observatory, including the first direct evidence that Cygnus X-1 was a black hole.
The City of Richmond Hill became the proud owner of the David Dunlap Observatory lands in 2017, including the park, the Observatory and the Administration Building. The City fought for years to protect the cultural and natural heritage features on the property, through a number of studies and by passing a heritage designation by-law.
The property continues to be a regional centre for education and public outreach, and serves the local community through programming, such as summer camps for youth, astronomy-themed speaker nights and stargazing, lecture nights and historical tours.
“This national historic site comes after years of staff efforts to preserve the cultural heritage of the DDO and to have it recognized nationwide,” said Mayor Dave Barrow.
The City is developing a strategy to move forward with the implementation of the DDO Park Master Plan, completed in 2016, that would see serval elements built within the park for the community. www.RichmondHill.ca/DDO.