Lately, the Aga Khan has spent time and money in this country. He addressed Parliament in February; recently the government of Canada gave his network $30-million and a 99-year lease on the former Canadian war museum in Ottawa to establish a Global Centre for Pluralism, a joint venture between the Aga Khan’s network and the government. In May, he spoke at the Every Woman Every Child conference in Toronto.

About a decade ago, his network bought seven hectares of land north of downtown Toronto from the Bata family. It angered some when it knocked down the Bata Shoe headquarters, a John P. Parkin building that some compared to the Acropolis in Athens.

“It resembled the Acropolis in the sense that it was on a hill,” Mr. Monreal said. “We had a very fruitful dialogue with the architectural gotha of Toronto.” (He uses gotha, a German word, to mean elite or intelligentsia.)

“We said, ‘If you accept that this building goes, we will provide two buildings that will add to the architecture of Toronto.’ “
On 03-Apr-2008, at 11:09, Architexturez-IN <[email protected]> wrote:

The Aga Khan Council for Canada was granted the opportunity to fill some rather large shoes yesterday as the North York community council unanimously voted against designating a former Bata headquarters building as a heritage site.

Perhaps the Aga Khan knows something we don't. Why else would the spiritual leader of the world's 15 million Ismaili Muslims have chosen a 7-hectare site near Don Mills and Eglinton to build his $200 million community centre/cultural campus?

Most Torontonians would have dismissed that location without a second thought; after all Wynford Dr., where the old Bata and Shell corporate sites were located, is more a drive-by corner than a destination.