December 31, 2015

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Another year has come and gone. The Imperial is taking shape. It is not completed yet – it will take a few more months to reach this goal. But when I look back to where we were in January of 2015, I realize that we have accomplished so much.

Last January, we were shoring up the foundation walls in the original basement and pouring footings for the fourteen 40-foot steel columns that were to be dropped in from the roof to the basement. It was so cold inside the building that liquids froze in any container within hours.   The warmest place in the building was the grungy basement where you could still see your breath.

The exterior of The Imperial was still wrapped in white hoarding and decorated with a red bow. An oil furnace heated the area between the bricks and the hoarding so that the mortar would cure. Andy and his men worked on the bricks [cleaning and replacing bricks, then repointing all the bricks] for several months.

all wrapped up smWhen they finished after Easter, the Imperial looked like the jewel she had been when she was built in 1872.

This month, The Imperial looked quite stately.

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What happened in December of this year? The Imperial’s corner door was revealed this month.  Remember what it used to look like? It was a painted green metal door when I purchased the building.

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It was a little rough-looking on the inside too:

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By chance though, Don Jardin from New Hamburg contacted me last year.  Many years ago he had purchased the corner door when the building was being remodelled.  He still had the door and he sent me a picture of it.

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This was another ‘jumping for joy occurrence’ for me as it was the door that was hung in 1908 .  I had a replica door made from this photo and a new stained-glass transom is being built.

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When spring arrived, there was a lot of activity in the interior and on the exterior. Most of you would have watched the addition take shape: the steel columns and beams, the cement blocks, the bricks, the windows.

In the original building, the floors were levelled, and suites were laid out with demising walls. Once the addition was enclosed, the men worked on the interior to bring it to the same level as the 2nd and 3rd floors of the original building. It was a very complicated process, more so in the original building. It was not easy working around steel columns and within limited ceiling spaces without lowering ceilings:

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Gas lines have been run throughout the suites. Blake and his crew have also installed the water main.

Aecon arrived on site one morning to install the gas main to the building. We have heat!! Aecon was quite happy that the weather was warm and that it was their final day on the road. They had been working on the ION for months.




Todd and his crew installed the main feeds for the electrical panels. By the end of the month, some of the panels were live in the suites.

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On December 3, we were hooked up to a new electrical panel for the building. Kitchener Wilmot Hydro installed a new transformer on a pole in the laneway; then on December 22 they turned off our temporary services.

BTW, Todd had his knee operated on but was back to work soon afterwards. He was quite excited about setting up the main panels in the electrical room. It is a work of art – neatly organized panels.

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We had to do some extra reinforcing in the basement below the brewery to support the beer tanks . Metcom installed a column and then we added some blocking and joists under the beams.

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Stybek Roofing installed the terrace roof; this meant no more water running into the sunroom below it and we could begin working on the sunroom.

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Great Northern Insulation insulated the exterior sunroom walls. Stybek also installed the roof and curb for the make-up unit which would pressurize the corridors. They also installed the metal cap along the parapet.

G&B Brick finished laying the red bricks on the addition at the end of November. They were VERY happy that the weather remained warm throughout the autumn. Did you notice that the orange safety fence was removed in early December?2015-12-28 14.21.33 copy

They finished laying the Owen Sound Ledge rock on the rear restaurant kitchen wall on December 11.

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We were sad to see Peter, Steven and Logan leave – G&B had been on site since April.  They are true craftsmen. You will notice four empty spaces for cement whimsy pieces that Kathy Jordan made for us. We will add these in the spring. This is one of them:

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The bakery, Sweets, has placed a sign in the window. More updates will appear next month.

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Imagine Travel is moving to the suite on Mill Street in May 2016:

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The tin ceiling that we salvaged from the original lobby is being cleaned.  We will use it in the sunroom and restaurant:

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The lobby for the residential suites hasn’t been worked on. All you see are block walls:

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and electrical wires running along the ceiling:

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Eventually this period antique will sit along the north wall:

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Greg Ramseyer returned on December 22 and 23 to connect the storm water drain in the rear yard. He graded the back yard and laid A gravel on top for the winter.

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Shane, Rick and Andrew [and sometimes Matt] continued drywalling. They boarded the exterior 3rd floor walls, the stairwells, and the second floor interior walls in the suites.

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A roughed-in walk-in shower:

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Kitchen for 205:

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Living room of 203:

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Kitchen for 203:

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Dining room and living room of 201:

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Dining room and living room of 202:

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Living room of 304:

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Living rom of 305:

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Dining room of 306:

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Bedroom window of 306:

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Dennis from Nith Valley is in a very happy place.  He is finally working on the fine carpentry.  I saw him smile last week.

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He made new window returns:

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and window sills:

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We replicated the window, door and baseboards from 1908:

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New trim and old trim:

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New Rosette:

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New corner for the baseboards:

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Shannon from Nith Valley applied caulking along the bottom of each demising wall and pipe penetration as a fire separator and sound barrier

A crane lifted the make-up air units, condensors and patio stones onto the roof in December by a crane.

The last thing that occurred  in December was the delivery and installation of the water softener and purification systems. Les Slowikowski’s of Clean Water Concepts organized this system.

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Two of the purification tanks:

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We had an Imperial lunch, German style before Christmas. We had spare ribs, my Mom’s hot German potato salad and a chopped salad. It all disappeared within 20 minutes. Shannon made pumpkin cheesecake and Christmas treats.



The Imperial crew gave me a beautiful floral centrepiece.  I felt so honoured to receive this gift.  I am a very lucky person to be surrounded by such talented people.


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Where has the year gone? Rebuilding an old building has been intriguing, challenging and frustrating all at the same time.   I have learned a lot about building, trades and patience. I truly appreciate the people I work with: Bob Zehr with his infinite knowledge and patience; Lynn Zehr for his skills, organization and memory; Laird Robertson and Ben Eby for their plans and attention to details; and especially Greg Voisin for his guidance, brilliance, support, sense of humour and love. I could not have done this without him.

And lastly, I want to thank all the workers who have been on site since May 2014. What a wonderful group of men [and woman] you are. I love watching and learning from what you are doing.  You are just as excited as I am to see the finished gem. Thank you so very very much.