City gives RHLI more time to make Auchmar a museum, saloon and public park

The plan includes a park, museum, saloon, gift shop, regimental chapel and education centre. The RHLI 13th Battalion Auchmar Heritage Trust have another nine months to finalize the details.

The plan, which also includes an education centre and regimental chapel, is a complicated one

Auchmar Mansion has been vacant for years. (City of Hamilton)

The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (RHLI) has another nine months to make its goal of turning Auchmar House into a museum, saloon, gift shop and public park a reality.

We'll be making sure we work very diligently to meet this deadline.- Sgt. Brian Buckle, RHLI 13th Battalion

Hamilton city council's general issues committee voted Wednesday to give the 13th Battalion Auchmar Trust a little more time to finalize their plan for the Gothic mansion, which regiment founder Isaac Buchanan built in 1852. The initial goal was this month.

The plan will still happen, said Sgt. Brian Buckle, even though there's still a question of renovations, and volunteers, and of course, money. T

The last year has been spent on various details, including getting incorporated as a non-profit and setting up a board of directors. The regiment is working on finding benefactors, and developing a business case with the help of McMaster University's masters of business administration program.

"For the next nine months, we'll be making sure we work very diligently to meet this deadline," he said.

"I'm very glad we have the extra time."

The future of what some call "the Dundurn of the Mountain" has been up in the air for a while.

The elegant mansion sits on a 3.77-hectare site at 88 Fennell Ave. W. The city bought it in 1999, but since 2001, it's sat empty.

It needs millions in repairs. Last June, the city voted to keep the building, but find a lessee. That's when it started talking to the RHLI.

The 13th Battalion Auchmar Trust envisions the following:

  • A Claremont community park.
  • A RHLI heritage museum at Auchmar House.
  • The volunteer saloon.
  • The Gibson Inn and Regimental Chapel.
  • The Old 13th drill shed.
  • The Isaac and Agnes Buchanan Education Centre.
  • The Routh Centre.
  • The Friends of Auchmar Gift Shop and Gazebo.

"Our major concern is saving the property," Buckle said, "and making sure it's open to the public."

The city is still open to other groups interested in negotiating, staff said, but none have come forward.

samantha.craggs@cbc.ca | @SamCraggsCBC