Province House Restored
As Canada's Centennial (1967) approached, many events were planned in celebration. The country re-discovered its origins, especially the meetings of 1864 in Charlottetown and Quebec. An agreement was signed in 1974 between Parks Canada and the Province of Prince Edward Island. Under the terms of the agreement, Parks Canada and the Province agreed to operate the site cooperatively for a period of 99 years. Parks Canada's primary role is to protect and interpret this important site to Canadians for all time. Also as part of the agreement a major restoration project was undertaken by Parks Canada to restore a portion of the building to the 1864 period.
The restoration took place between 1979 and 1983 at a cost of $3.5million. The work was painstaking in its detail and involved extensive research and many talented craftspeople working thousands of hours to complete this major project. Province House was officially proclaimed a National Historic Site on July 1, 1983.
Determining the original nature of the building was not always easy. Numerous and varied alterations confused or obliterated much of the original structure and appearance. Historical and archaeological research was helpful, while investigations of the building confirmed some changes and revealed others. For example, the original floor boards gave evidence of curved railings at both ends of the Confederation Chamber and of a semi-circular dias against the west wall. These features had not appeared in early photographs, although the dias was mentioned in original construction records.
Beginning with the exterior, the sandstone was patched and cleaned and some stones replaced. A roof of slate and copper was installed according to original specifications. Chimneys and skylights were reconstructed.
The interior had seen much painting and plastering. Careful research resulted in the accurate reproduction of original paint types and styles. Some restoration, as in the Confederation Chamber, was formal and refined, even ornate. Other areas received more simple treatment in keeping with the original.
Province House National Historic Site underwent a renovation in advance of the 2014 celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference. These renovations will ensure that Province House National Historic Site continues to be maintained, appreciated and enjoyed by present and future generations of Canadians.
Conservation work at Province House National Historic Site began in 2011, focusing on the preservation of the period masonry to prepare it as the backdrop for 2014 celebrations. There were also some structural upgrades to the building, and measures were taken to make the building weather-tight.
Province House continues to make history as it still houses the Legislative Assembly for the Province of Prince Edward Island and is the focal point for political decisions and debates. Cooperatively within the site, staff from Parks Canada and the Province of PEI work together in welcoming thousands of visitors annually.