YULE HEIBEL’S PROPHETIC WARNINGS: JSB.org co-founder, Post Studio wit, Metrocascade Aggregator designer, Harvard + MIT Architectural History Prof., FOCUS urbanism columnist, first warned of Dean Fortin’s plans to destroy Victoria’s neglected heritage ‘Joseph Strauss Bridge’ near Chinatown



Yule Heibel is seen in this detail from a front page cover colour photo in Victoria’s premiere conservationist publication, Leslie Campbell’s FOCUS.

The endangered Johnson Street Bridge is seen behind the genius architectural historian whose early FOCUS articles on the plans of a manic philistine socialist mayor first shocked sleepy Victorians into a frenzy of healthy defensive reactionary conservationist activitism, the likes of which we have never really seen in our recent history, not since the Saint Anne’s Academy saga in the late 80s and early nineties.

In fact, the JSB.org group has somehow managed to avoid the courts so far, in contrast to what happened the last time there was such a big heritage kerfuffle, when the City of Victoria was sued on a number of occasions by two groups working in concert for a shared goal, the saving of a national historic site, our very own Quebecois Second Empire style Roman Catholic nunnery near Beacon Hill Park, L’Academie Sainte Anne.

In that similarly historic conservation struggle against the brute forces of apparent government corruption and mindless philistinism, the Greater Victoria Concerned Citizens’ Association, (our original legal precursor to the present more political Concerned Citizens’ Coalition) joined forces with David Turner, Mark and Pamela Madoff and other socialists, hippies, reactionaries, conservationists, ‘greens’, Raging Grannies, in other words, all the most unusual suspects … it was the strangest coalition I have ever seen, until now, when it seems even more diverse.

Both groups sued the City of Victoria and the Provincial Capital Commission in a kind of never-ending stream of legal attacks that finally apparently left the developer Academy Gardens Corporation unable to secure the confidence of a bank loan, and thus the whole nightmare of seeing the old convent grounds turned into a kind of kitsch Fantasy Gardens, courtesy a smiling charmer of a Euro Catholic premier who should have known better than to set up a cosy deal with his loyal Socred developer friends…

…All this crass materialistic manoeuvring to privatize the most significant national historic public property resource  from the colonial period of Victoria history … all this, as I say, came to a final ignominious end when Academy Gardens Corporation was found in default of its lease by the very same Provincial Capital Commission that the Concerned Citizens and the Saint Anne’s Rescue public interest conservationist groups sued in the first place (the non-accountable secretive PPP-like entity which purports then and still pretends to properly manage these and other valuable downtown Victoria real estate properties)

Academy Gardens Corporation defaulted on their cosy 70 year lease arrangement with the Prinvincial Capital Commission for not making monthly lease payments in a timely manner.

Developer Peter Daniel, principal of Academy Gardens Corporation, was at the time well known to be a member of the Social Credit Party of the then government of the province of British Columbia, which ultimately had the title to the huge property across the street from the Church of Our Lord.

Saint Ann’s Academy also borders our own Hartnell family business property, then called the Queen Victoria Inn, a thriving hotel business started by our parents who built and owned it the time of the Saint Ann’s saga.

With legendary Langford Lake senior conservationist lawyer Ron MacIsaac’s help, my late father Peter George Hartnell and my dear mother Sheila Hartnell joined with Donna W. and I, along with another lady whose name shall remain anonymous, and formed the Greater Victoria Concerned Citizens’ Association, a legal society generally designed to protect and defend the greater public conservation interests of the good people of Greater Victoria, and specifically, to launch an unrelenting attack of legal actions against the Provincial Capital Commission (CCC) and Academy Gardens, which we did, time after time, for a number of years… in concert with the David Turner-Pamela Madoff-Sue Stroud-NDP-Tom Loring-affiiliated Saint Anne’s Rescue Community Coalition.

Saint Anne’s Academy is bordered by Blanshard on the west, and by Humboldt Street’s Saint Joseph’s Hospital on the north of the precinct, a huge hospital zone also built by the inspiration of God and the hard dedicated work of our early Quebecoises Soeurs de Sainte-Anne de LaChine Quebec, the francophone Roman Catholic order of bilingual teaching nuns who built and staffed the Motherhouse, L’Academie de Sainte Anne, near Beacon Hill Park.

Canada’s most famous female artist, Victoria-born Emily Carr, convalesced and was nursed back to health by these nursing Sisters of Sainte Anne, when she stayed for some time at the old Saint Joseph’s Hospital, I believe it was in the late 1930s.

Later, of course, we all saw her spirit alight on the top of the Saint Anne’s Academy cupola, when at dusk or dawn golden light time, a white bird would alight on the top of the cross, upon which strange phenomenon occurring, the next thing that would invariably happen would be a lovely apparition of Emily Carr stroking her pet monkey Woo, as if to console the creature for the follies of Man, and the brute forces of philistinism.

Emily and Woo would turn slowly in a circle, as if to survey all the wonderful panorama of parklike Victoria, wrapped in a kind of familiar amnesiac fog, and eventually this apparation would dissipate in the gloom as the fog became more manifest in a typical Pacifican early morning or early evening fog-in.

Thus the legend of Emily Carr’s spirit or ‘ghost’ as Peter Zozsky put it, became instant karma folklore for the conservationist movement in Victoria.

We need to invoke the spirit of our greatest artist to get the energy changed on this Johnson Street Bridge fiasco in the same way she helped intercede with us to the Creator to help save Saint Anne’s Academy.

I am not saying that Emily Carr is a saint.

Only this: that she is a mythical symbolic figure that is so appealing as an OUTSIDER that she has a very wide appeal to a myriad of groups:

Everyone seems to love the Emily Carr story of a valiant and misunderstood modern woman’s lone fight against the smug uptight bourgeois provincialism of colonial Victoria, and we all love her valiant attempt to inject French post-impressionism into the sleepy world of the English watercolour tradition of artists like Sarah Trutch, the Beaux Arts academicism of Sophie Pemberton, the Arts and Crafts medievalism of Sam MacLure’s Victoria.

And then, it came to me in a flash, folks, and I thought and remembered with fondness my old friend in radical surrealistic artistic political activism, Robin Buote, who first claimed that it was mutually inspired revelation:

We need Emily Carr to help us to save the Johnson Street Bridge just like she helped us save Saint Ann’s Academy!

I swear I got that idea today straight from listening, while in a meditation, to a great piece of music this morning on the car radio while I was driving home around 7:00 a.m., after dropping my dear wife Dawn off to work @ Sunset, the beautiful music was a haunting mystical piece of praise to the holy mother MARIA, with lovely name chanted over and over, each time slightly differently…



These impassioned articles of Yule Heibel’s detailed all the reasons why Dean Fortin’s ideas about what to do with the neglected bascule bridge were likely to be so destructive, costly, unnecessary and ultimately futile.

Yule Heibel’s hardhitting and sophisticated style of architectural criticsm, her withering wit, and her passion for fiscal prudence set the tone for further writing by her companions in the good fight for the bridge at JohnsonStreetBridge.org, Mat Wright and Ross Crockford.

These gents, along with the energetic Rockland German-Canadian professor, then produced their truly wonderful website that shamed the City of Victoria with its wealth of information, forcing the City to smarten up its own communications efforts, which they tried to do, but which they consistently messed up, with dictatorial messaging, unfair advertising, one-sided funding of YES propaganda, etc.

Thus, we all owe a great debt of gratitude to this dynamic and happily married mother of two very intelligent young students, all living not very far away from our own abode in leafy Rockland.

Were it not for Yule Heibel and Leslie Campbell’s prescience and determination to just say NO, the Johnson Street Bridge would very well likely just be a memory now.

After her departure from FOCUS, these key historical documents were put online by Leslie Campbell at the FOCUS website, then transferred to the JSB.ORG site, and are also found, I believe at the great historians own quirky website called Yule Heibel’s Post Studio.

Another great FOCUS writer, Sam Williams, then picked up where Yule Heibel left off, with an extraordinary display of hardhitting investigative journalism, showing all the myriad of ways the Fortin YES crowd messed up, and continue to mess up.

Many Sincere Thanks, then, are certainly due to Yule Heibel, Leslie Campbell and Sam Williams at FOCUS for all the great work they are doing in the public interest of protecting our heritage bascule built by Joe Strauss.


Gregory Paul Michael Hartnell

One Response to YULE HEIBEL’S PROPHETIC WARNINGS: JSB.org co-founder, Post Studio wit, Metrocascade Aggregator designer, Harvard + MIT Architectural History Prof., FOCUS urbanism columnist, first warned of Dean Fortin’s plans to destroy Victoria’s neglected heritage ‘Joseph Strauss Bridge’ near Chinatown

  1. goyodelarosa says:



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