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Visitor Centre Project

West Elevation
Proposed West Elevation
© Parks Canada

The Government of Canada is committed to celebrating 200 years of peaceful relations with the United States by marking the bicentennial of the War of 1812. Parks Canada owns and operates many National Historic Sites with a direct relationship to the war.

Prescott, Ontario, is home to Fort Wellington, built during the War of 1812 to defend the St. Lawrence River shipping route between Montreal and Kingston from possible attack by the United States. The fort is closely related to the Raid on Ogdensburg that, although small in scale, removed the American threat to British supply lines for the remainder of the war. As such, Fort Wellington is a very important component to recognizing the War of 1812 bicentennial in Eastern Ontario.

On August 12, 2009, the government announced a $2 million funding initiative for the rehabilitation of Fort Wellington’s Visitor Centre as part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan. Additional funding of $1.1 million was announced on February 10, 2010 for an enhanced 1812 themed exhibit for Fort Wellington National Historic Site that will feature a preserved British gunboat hull.

Preserved wreckage of an early 1800s British gunboat hull was discovered in the waters of Brown’s Bay, near Mallorytown Landing, in the 1960s. At just over 50 ft long, the remains of this gunboat are an important artefact from the War of 1812 period. In 1967 the remains of this gunboat were lifted from the waters and put on display in a boathouse at St. Lawrence Islands National Park. The gunboat on display is indicative of the size and shape of gunboats that protected the St. Lawrence during the War of 1812, however, the current building housing the gunboat exhibit at St. Lawrence National Park is in need of replacement.

Parks Canada is investing to create focused visitor opportunities for the commemoration of the War of 1812 in Eastern Ontario at Fort Wellington. Due to the needed rehabilitation of the current gunboat display, Parks Canada is investing to fulfill the long term goal of relocating the gunboat to Fort Wellington, where it will become part of Fort Wellington’s new 1812 exhibit. The relocation of this gunboat will provide a unique opportunity to engage visitors and help tell the story of the role that the British military played in the defence of Canada along the strategic St. Lawrence River during the early 1800s.

Parks Canada called-up an architectural firm for design of the new visitor centre using a Public Works Government Services Canada Standing Offer Agreement for General Architectural Services. Design and construction management of the new visitor centre was awarded to the firm Dialog (formerly Cohos & Evamy) who has in-house expertise in the areas of architecture, engineering and interior design.

Once the design phase is complete, the contract for construction of the new visitor centre will be publicly tendered with the bid documents posted on MERX (Canada’s electronic tendering service for finding government contracts). Following award to a General Contractor, construction will begin.