THE 7-3-4 RESTORATION: A Partnership Between Habitat for Humanity and Cape Breton University’s Housing Applied Research Group.
UPDATE – 2014: Successfully completed! Read about the outcome here.

UPDATEOctober 25, 2012: We are working to have the home as close to complete as possible by Christmas. The Build Committee, led by Adrian Wilson and Vince Carrigan of Nova Scotia Community College, is working very carefully and methodically with volunteers and skilled tradespeople who are assisting. Meanwhile, the Fund-raising Committee, chaired by Alicia Lake, has done excellent work in organizing activities and events, the latest being a unique “Eat Local, Buy Local, Build Local” fund-raiser at the Lingan Golf Course/Flavor 19. We see a clear path to the successful completion of this project.

MARCH 2012: In April, the project moves into Phase II, at an accelerated pace. This will include, among other things, the installation of solar-thermal side panels and rain-water toilets.

July 1, 2011: Work on site is progressing well, under the direction of site supervisor Harold Daigle, and with a very effective Habitat for Humanity volunteer team. Recommendations are expected this month from the CBU Housing Applied Research Group on heat-pump, solar, and rainwater applications. Concrete and crawl space work is underway, and the back wall will be reconstructed. The home, which was previously not insulated, has now been prepared for a complete modernization, while preserving historic features.

On June 21, 2011, the Council of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality designated the home under the Heritage Property Act, a very special recognition.

On June 2, 2011, the Governor General of Canada, the Right Honourable David Johnston, joined the president of Habitat for Humanity Canada, Stuart Hardacre, and local volunteers on the site. The Governor General installed a window and conversed with each of the volunteers.

Applications are still being accepted for families interested in owning this home. You would contribute volunteer hours in lieu of down payment and receive a no-interest mortgage on a very affordable price. For application details, please contact Joyce Rankin (joyce_rankin@cbu.ca).

The historic Dominion Coal Company House Number 734 (near downtown Glace Bay) is to be restored for affordable housing, thanks to collaboration among local residents, HomeMatch, and an interdisciplinary applied research project, based at Cape Breton University.

After study and preparation, this home was purchased at tax sale by a CBU faculty member with the intention of donating the property (gratis) for a demonstration project in affordable housing, heritage conservation, and sustainability.

Selected for this project is an iconic Cape Breton home -- a "company house" with many of its original features. This home was occupied by one of Glace Bay's founding families from 1895 until its recent vacancy (Allan F. MacIntyre was the original tenant, and his son and daughter-in-law, Francis and Katherine Marie, purchased the home from the company in 1946.) The family was closely associated with the railway, and the home was known in the neighbourhood for its vibrant Cape Breton musical scene.

View images of the 7-3-4 Project

Earlier this year, the Heritage Canada Foundation put the "company houses of industrial Cape Breton" on its list of the 10 most endangered historic places in Canada. We want to demonstrate affordable, durable methods for the adaptive re-use of these buildings. We also wish to show the importance of development in already-serviced urban areas, within walking distance of amenities, as an alternative to scattered and costly peripheral subdivisions.

This is more than a standard renovation. It's an important, practical research project:
• We are investigating cost-effective ways to renovate and upgrade
   company-house foundations.
• We want to make this home a model of energy efficiency and sustainable
   practices, including the re-use of quality materials salvaged from other sites. Are
   there commercial opportunities here that could generate community economic
   development?
• We are investigating the possibility of longer-term geo-thermal/minewater
   applications on this site and in the neighbourhood.
• We want to better understand what traditional renovation and food-gardening
   skills and methods can be reclaimed and applied to this project.
• We want to develop a user-friendly manual/guide to allow others to apply what we
   learn to deteriorating and vacant homes in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality
   and elsewhere. (Staff members of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality have
   inventoried more than 800 vacant buildings in the region.)

Once we have completed the experimental phase, we intend to transfer the property to Habitat for Humanity to complete the work alongside a local family at risk of homelessness. The family would eventually take over the property (projected for the fall of 2012).
Heritage "Company House"
Artist: Diane Lawrence (2010)

Please support the 7-3-4 Restoration by purchasing a framed, autographed print, specially prepared for this project by Glace Bay artist Diane Lawrence. The cost is $35. (There are also large-format versions, individually priced.)

The print shows the house as the artist anticipates it will look when the work is completed. To order your print, please contact Joyce Rankin (joyce_rankin@cbu.ca).