Windsor’s Cedar Centre Receives Built Heritage Award

Windsor’s Cedar Centre Receives Built Heritage Award
By Ethan Lang

Last month, the Cedar Centre for Active and Healthy Living received one of the five Built Heritage Awards given out yearly by the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia to call attention to excellence in the conservation of heritage buildings in the province. The award was presented on July 6, in an event hosted by the Cedar Centre, recognizing the facility’s work in renovating the old Windsor Furniture Company factory building to meet the Centre’s modern needs, while retaining the character and integrity of the original architecture.

The building in which the Cedar Centre now operates was originally constructed in 1872 for the production of furniture. It would be rebuilt following the great fire of Windsor in 1897, and finally closed for its original purpose in 1928. The building served different functions afterwards, becoming an elementary school, then an office for the RCMP, before coming full circle as a furniture storage warehouse and then a furniture store, before its current iteration as The Cedar Centre for Active Health & Living.

The building has been home to the Cedar Centre since the facility opened its doors in 2013, but most of the renovations and restorations for which the Centre is now being recognized had been started or completed before that time, with work having commenced in January 2011.

On the exterior, the roof has been redone, but the traditional post and beam, brick-filled style remains. This facade keeps the original industrial look of the building intact.

Inside, the clinic operates on the factory floor, with the mission of promoting active and healthy living. The Centre offers a range of services including yoga, massage, and child psychiatry; rentals for meetings, functions, and private or community events; as well as art exhibits and musical recitals.

The chief service though, is medical exercise therapy. It is a form of treatment which encourages rehabilitation and prevention of injury and muscular or skeletal conditions through active exercises, as well as maintaining biomechanical function through practice as we age. There is an emphasis on training the nervous system to improve coordination, balance, timing, rhythm, and orientation. As such, maximum mental engagement is required. According to Dr. Matthias Jaepel, the recent renovations on the clinic used the building’s original factory layout to complement the practice of medical exercise therapy and its need for focus.

“It is paramount in heath care,” writes Dr. Jaepel, “to provide an open and encouraging atmosphere…That’s what’s needed to heal in many cases.”

The building’s ninety windows — all recently replaced — provide lots of soothing natural light throughout the clinic. The open layout of the factory was only divided partially in a conscious effort to keep a non-restricting atmosphere. There is also a fresh new concrete floor and a new heating system on the way, contributing to the calm, relaxing quality of the facility.

“The result of the renovation absolutely co-aligns with the centre’s philosophy of openness and transparency,” says Dr. Jaepel,

By capitalizing on these aspects of the factory design while restoring and renovating, the Cedar Centre holds on to the charm of the factory brick and open loft floors, while creating a spirit all its own. It is this marrying of the heritage of the building with the needs of the Cedar Centre, the keeping of the old when helpful and adding the new when necessary, that has earned the facility the Built Heritage Award.

In medical exercise therapy, the constant training of biomechanical motions is meant to strengthen and improve the function of the body. If the body is moving with full range of function, a person is healthy. If we train these motions all are lives, constantly challenging functional capacity through self-discipline and exercise, the body will continue to heal and come back stronger, maintaining and even improving health well into the later stages of life. As Dr. Jaepel puts it, “we all get older, but we don’t have to age.” It is as true of old buildings as it is of people.