Top 1% in Canada

Royal LePage Canada 2023
Meet the Mullin Group

Understanding Heritage Property…Out With the Old?

Understanding Heritage Property...Out With the Old?

When you hear the word heritage, you might think of your great, great, great grandparents travelling across countless miles in order to find a suitable area to start a family and settle down.  As realtors, when we hear the word heritage, we think of heritage designated property and some of the challenges that go along with it!  Now don’t get us wrong!  We love that Dufferin is a historically significant area and we believe that it adds to the charm and culture of the area.  BUT, it definitely adds to the list of assurances and knowledge we have to bestow upon our clients in order to ensure we provide service to the best of our capabilities.

For those of you who were unaware, Dufferin is extremely old. Like 146 years old (formed in 1875) to be exact!  Furthermore, Orangeville was first settled in 1844 by a man named Orange Lawrence.  He built a mill here and eventually the town was granted “township status” in 1874.  This means over the last 177 odd years people have lived in the area that we now call home.  And people love to build things!  This is where things get fun for us.

The Ontario Heritage Act came into effect in early 1975 which allows municipalities as well as the provincial government to designate individual properties and districts as being of cultural heritage, value or interest.  As the towns forming our area and others continue to grow, a leger was formed out of necessity in order to keep track of all of the property that is considered significant.  Please see below Map of Orangeville to get an idea of what this now looks like!

As you can likely see, there is a lot of property that is on the municipal register.  The majority of which is classified as non-designated.  This means the buildings aren’t necessarily of significance, but may be.  An owner or buyer who may want to make some big changes to properties under this category will have to submit to the municipality 2 months before making any of the changes in order to receive approval for their plans.  If the municipality gives clearance for major alterations/rebuilding, prepare to not necessarily be able to clear the land completely with properties under this designation.  The municipality will often require something left from the original property, such as the foundation.  Oftentimes, you cannot increase the footprint cannot for these properties either, among other things.  Many owners can work with this; but, it is of the utmost importance that they check with the municipality otherwise they will very likely face unsavory consequences for their lack of due diligence.

The next two designations basically provide that the areas or individual buildings designated as historically significant.  This drastically increases the level of protection for these buildings or areas. We strongly recommend working with the municipal heritage committee intimately with anything involving these areas to our clients.

People can also submit to the municipality/heritage committee buildings that they believe have historical value that are not registered.  This application process will take some time as the committee involved has to do its own research on the property.  Heritage Orangeville directs the council on most of these decisions.  According to , the process they undergo looks something like this;


  • Refer to Heritage Value and Character-defining Elements
  • Investigate and Document Condition and Changes



  • Maintain or Select an Appropriate and Sustainable Use
  • Identify Project Requirements
  • Determine the Primary Treatment
  • Review the Standards
  • Follow the Guidelines



  • Undertake the Project Work
  • Carry out Regular Maintenance


You can always contact your town’s planning department for more information regarding heritage property.  With that said, the main takeaway here should be to always do due diligence and to inspect before you expect when it comes to these types of property.  Town websites typically have great resources that can educate you on the heritage buildings in the area.  It can provide you with the tools and information you need to best understand these types of property.  So whether you are looking to spend a Sunday afternoon touring the buildings of old in your town or you want to rebuild on an existing historical site, the municipality is your greatest resource for direction!  And if you are looking for any information on real estate in the area, then the Mullin Group is happy to be your greatest resource for that!

Thinking of buying or selling? Contact us today to learn about Dufferin County Real Estate or to have Orangeville MLS® Listings sent to your email address.