Councillor Josh Matlow

Town Crier: Heritage status for Bateman home?

June 11th, 2014

Shawn Star

Town Crier



Fans of Robert Bateman’s paintings might find it interesting to know that a large part of his inspiration came from being in the ravine behind his childhood home in Forest Hill.


The City of Toronto will decide on June 10 whether to pursue making the home at 287 Chaplin Cres. a heritage property.


Local councillor Josh Matlow says the heritage designation will ensure that an important piece of Toronto’s art history will be preserved. He brought the idea to Toronto and East York community council in May, where it was approved unanimously.


“Our community is very proud of the fact that Robert Bateman grew up on the beltline in midtown Toronto,” he said. “Given the fact that his childhood home on our beltline inspired so much of his work, I think there’s a very strong case for heritage designation.


“I have great confidence the preservation board will support my request.”


Bateman, now 84, is a celebrated Canadian painter whose hyper-realistic portrayals of nature have garnered him international success for decades. He lives in British Columbia.


When approached by a reporter and asked what it’s like to live in Bateman’s childhood home, the current owner smiled. Though requesting for personal reasons not to be identified, she did say she was “excited” by the news of the possible heritage designation.


“It’s wonderful,” she said. “I would really support that.”


The original idea for heritage designation came to Matlow’s office from both the Bateman Foundation and Forest Hill resident Tom Fiore. On Bateman’s 84th birthday, Fiore led a group of 40 people on a walk along the Kay Gardiner Beltline, which leads directly behind the home on Chaplin Crescent.


“Like any famous artist you might know about — Rembrandt, Michaelangelo, any famous artist — there’s a history behind them,” he said. “What’s the history behind Robert Bateman? The history is, within this environment is how he developed his love for nature.


“The genesis of his genius is right here.”


Executive director for the Bateman Foundation Paul Gilbert says getting a heritage designation for the property is something the Bateman family has been interested in for the past couple of years.


“For his entire childhood they never moved anywhere else,” said Gilbert, who had Bateman as his high school art teacher in Burlington. “It was a wonderful place for him.”


Citing stories of Bateman as a child drawing pictures in the sunroom while his friends watched, he added: “There’s a deep sense of place lodged in that house and the ravine.”


To read this article in its original form, click here.


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