By Lindsey Cole/The Oshawa Express
Looking at the restored pieces of the Cullen Miniature Village is like stepping back in time, to when they were flourishing at Cullen Gardens in Whitby.
Recently, they were unveiled in their new home in Niagara in near mint condition, a far cry from what the village was when it was damaged and collecting dust in a City storage facility after Oshawa’s former council purchased them for almost $250,000 in 2007.
In December 2011, the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) made an agreement with the City to purchase the collection, and in May 2012 the 182-piece collection was packed up and shipped off to the land of the falls where it was restored.
Recently, the NPC presented its new “Welcome Home” Miniature Village display at the Floral Showhouse near the Botancial Gardens.
Mayor John Henry was on hand for the unveiling and says he was thrilled to see the collection restored to its former glory.
“It’s a great tribute to Mr. Cullen to keep his vision alive. It’s a tribute to his commitment to his community,” Mayor Henry says. “The entire collection is intact. It’s out for all the visitors of Niagara Falls to see.”
Three offers were presented to council pertaining to the collection, with the NPC coming in with the highest bid. They offered to pay the City $100,000 (plus taxes) in five annual installments of $20,000 with the first installment coming in on May 1, 2013. The other bids were from the Friedberg Mercantile Group for $57,065 and the Royal Botanical Gardens for $16,950.
The NPC’s offer also included, “a plaque identifying the role of the City of Oshawa in keeping the collection intact and facilitating the transfer to Niagara Parks. Further, Niagara Parks would like to extend a discount in the admission price during 2013 and 2014 to residents of the City of Oshawa who come to view the collection in its new home.”
This plaque was also unveiled during the recent opening.
The Cullen Miniature Village was purchased for $239,000 during a closed meeting of Oshawa’s former council. The intent was to buy the collection and turn it into a revenue generator for the City in the form of a tourist attraction, a City report states. Instead the miniatures were stored away, and both the old and new council had been trying to get rid of them.
Creating a website for the collection, as well as placing it on MLS were just some of the attempts staff made to advertise the village.
The Cullen Miniature Village was at one time appraised at $678,000.
“We’ve reached an end,” says Mayor Henry of the not-so Miniature Village saga. “They’ve been moved to an area where they can be appreciated. They can bring smiles