Open Balfour House


What is Balfour?

  • Heritage property in Hamilton, Ontario
  • Also called Chedoke Estate, formerly an Iroquois settlement
  • Built 1836-1838
  • Owned by Ontario Heritage Trust since 1979
  • Stewarded by City of Hamilton
  • Currently no public access
  South elevation – photo c.1875

"Heritage sites connect us to the past, giving us a sense of belonging and connecting us to the future."

—Beth Hanna
CEO, Ontario Heritage Trust


Restoring a Treasure

Cardus Nears Final Approval to Restore Balfour ›
Press Release--March 2, 2021


What is the Cardus Proposal for Balfour?

  • Protecting heritage. Cardus has designed an extremely minimalist restoration, retaining all 57 character-defining elements, aided by Invizij Architects and by famed architect Julian Smith (O.C.)
  • Allowing public access. After decades locked up, reopening Balfour will let the Hamilton community enjoy this 1830s Regency-style gem.
  • Encouraging private investment. Cardus and local partners will restore Balfour with zero taxpayer funding—saving an estimated $1.5M in repairs and operating costs.
  • Supporting local jobs. The Open Balfour project is a partnership of five respected local employers.
  • Repeating success. Open Balfour builds on recent similar restorations of heritage jewels for local non-profits, including the Veevers Estate leased to local non-profit Green Ventures.
  • Indigenous consultation and celebration. Resonant from Cardus’s writings on indigenous justice and reconciliation, the Open Balfour project includes a strategy for meaningful community engagement based on consultation and relationship. Special events may include a special ceremony prior to public opening, and annual marking of National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Balfour All

  • Cardus will be the anchor tenant with offices, meeting and retreat space honouring Balfour’s intricate history.
  • Cardus means “main street”. Cardus focuses on public education, mainstream media commentary, and research to build better societies. Regularly involved in Doors Open, Hamilton Employment Crawl, open houses, and regular public events.
  • Cardus has created dozens of jobs in Hamilton headquarters and Ottawa branch office beside Parliament Hill.
  • Open Balfour is a partnership of five respected local employers: Budget Group of Companies, Schilthuis Construction, Invizij Architects, and led by local non-profit Cardus, a public life think tank.
  Photo courtesy of Lincoln Alexander Centre

“Communities will thrive and grow if we build new buildings with an eye to their long-term sustainability. Or, better yet, adapt existing buildings to new purposes. While heritage speaks to our past and augments our culture, it also becomes future-looking and future-thinking.”

—Hon. Lincoln M. Alexander (C.C.)



“We are also witnessing investment in cultural preservation when individuals and organizations choose heritage sites as venues for activities and locations for businesses. Few things can guarantee the preservation of a historic place better than active use. Without a realistic or feasible purpose, a vacant building’s fate is often sealed.”

Ontario Heritage Trust

Balfour House Exterior
City of Hamilton staff recommend adaptive reuse of Balfour
Ontario Heritage Trust approves Cardus adaptive reuse of Balfour
City of Hamilton and Cardus negotiate sublease
Final approvals from City and Trust

Contact Cardus ›