Sunday, June 20, 2010

ACO's 37th Annual Geranium Heritage House Tour

Earlier this June, I had the privilege of volunteering with the ACO's 37th Annual Geranium Heritage House Tour. The tour focuses on one of London's most beautiful neighbourhoods, and explores historic houses on Ridout, Talbot, John, Albert and Kent. I had the opportunity to assist with a portion of the guided tour at 601 Talbot Street, a lovely Ontario Cottage-style home that was built in 1875 and has a variety of attractive Gothic Revival features.

I was curious to see what age groups and genders would choose to take part in the tour. For the most part, I would put visitors over the age of 45, and generally female. Many chose to take the tour in groups of three or four, although there were also solo visitors. I would estimate that over 100 individuals visited 601 Talbot Street between three and five o'clock that afternoon, and only two small groups were young people (approximately 20-30 years old).

I wonder why more teens or young adults are not interested in participating in this type of event. I told a variety of my friends that I would be volunteering for the tour and they should check it out; a pair of them even live in a condo at 500 Talbot Street, so they wouldn't have had to go very far! Unfortunately, the interest wasn't there. I believe the admission fee was a deterent for many; the tour cost $20.00, which may seem steep to some, for a tour of older homes. I still found it surprising that young people aren't interested in learning more about one of London's nicest neighbourhoods. The Geranium Heritage House Tour has been active for thirty-seven years, and I noticed advertisements in local papers leading up to the event, so I don't believe that it's an issue of "nobody heard about it."

Hopefully, great events such as the Geranium Heritage House Tour can find a way to attract a new, younger, and more diverse audience. Especially for individuals who have grown up in London, they could only benefit from learning the history of some of London's most beautiful houses.