PROVINCE HOUSE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE CONSERVATION PROJECT – PHASE TWO
Province House National Historic Site
Province House National Historic Site, the birthplace of Confederation and the seat of Prince Edward Island's provincial legislature, stands as a celebrated Canadian landmark. It was commemorated as a national historic site by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada due to its significance as the first meeting place of the Fathers of Confederation: the Charlottetown Conference of 1864. This conference, along with the Quebec Conference of 1864, ultimately led to the Canadian Confederation in 1867.
Province House is an example of Neo-Classical Revival architecture and was constructed between 1843 and 1847 to house Prince Edward Island’s provincial legislature, the Supreme Court, and to serve as a depository of public documents for Prince Edward Island.
The Government of Canada has an agreement with the Province of Prince Edward Island, to restore, preserve, interpret, and administer Province House as a national historic site. Through a Memorandum of Agreement signed on October 1st, 1974, the federal government was given exclusive occupancy of designated areas for 99 years.
Province House is currently closed for conservation work. Until the site closed, it was occupied by both Parks Canada and the Province of PEI. Parks Canada operated Province House as a national historic site and provided guided tours for the public. At the same time, the Legislative Assembly of PEI met in Province House and various provincial government offices were also located at the site. Province House is an important landmark in the city of Charlottetown and a major attraction for visitors to the Island.
Further information is available on our Province House National Historic Site Conservation Project page.
Province House National Historic Site – Conservation Project Update
On behalf of Parks Canada, the Province House conservation project is managed by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) – Canada’s centre of expertise for conserving built heritage.
Phase one began in May 2017, with extensive work conducted to protect and stabilize the building by the contractor, Quinan Construction Ltd. A steel exoskeleton was constructed to help stabilize the building and to provide a safe and efficient work platform, the perimeter fence is in place, and the foundation of the building has been excavated, all in preparation for the start of phase two.
Phase one also involved the protection and, in some cases, the temporary removal of historic features found inside Province House that form part of the character-defining elements. These include columns, pilasters, ceiling medallions, arches, windows and the central staircase. Each of these elements have been diligently tagged and wrapped for protection. They will be reintroduced into the building during the conservation process.
Quinan Construction brought in key people from Ontario and supplemented staff with local labour. The majority of the subcontractors on this project have been Island firms. In addition, the contractor collaborated with the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of Prince Edward Island to engage an Indigenous employee, and graduates from the Heritage Retrofit Carpentry program at Holland College were selected to work on the project.
The contract for construction management services for phase two and three of the project was awarded in October 2017 to PCL Constructors Ltd. A construction manager was hired due to the increase in complexity at this stage of the conservation project, as it will involve multiple sub-contractors. Several more subcontractors and employees will be brought on board during phase two to complete the next steps in this intricate conservation project.
Phase two began in May 2018 with on-site preparation. The main conservation work in phase two is now underway and will focus on the building envelope, including the conservation of the exterior walls, and work related to the foundation, structural interior walls, floors and roof, and exterior universal accessibility.
The removal of finishes from the interior of the building during phase one of the project has provided more information about the masonry wall construction, which has better defined the conservation approach for the project team. While still in need of significant work, the walls are in better condition than expected. The original approach called for a complete dismantling and reconstruction of the exterior walls, however a combination approach of in situ repair and dismantle/reassemble is planned.
An in situ approach means that, where possible, the damaged walls are being repaired in place, rather than complete removal and reassembly. This approach is less invasive, protects more of the heritage fabric of the building, and is more cost-efficient. In some cases, where the stone is noted to be in particularly poor condition, the dismantle/reassemble approach is being used. This combined approach appropriately addresses Province House’s conservation needs, and is supported by best practices in the conservation of heritage buildings.
Phase three, which will also be led by PCL Constructors Ltd., will primarily focus on the reinstallation of building electrical and mechanical systems, interior finishes such as painting and flooring, fire code compliance and universal accessibility upgrades.
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