Project faithful to hall’s heritage
Tim Wieclawski/metro ottawa
After 15 months of labour and nearly $6 million spent on a restoration, the façade of Ottawa’s stately Rideau Hall now looks …
Well, older … and that’s exactly what the National Capital Commission intended.
Yesterday, the NCC, the Governor General and craftsmen who worked on Ottawa’s second-most famous building could at last enjoy the fruits of a project that faithfully restored the crumbling stone façade of the vice-regal’s residence to its splendour of nearly a century ago.
“It takes real art to find the balance between respecting the historic character of a building and making modifications that meet modern requirements,” Governor General Michaëlle Jean said yesterday, in thanking the crews who, among other things, fixed a leaky roof that forced the Queen’s representative in Canada to put out buckets to catch drips every time it rained.
Canada’s historic buildings like Rideau Hall are part of the national identity and “that is why we must ensure that our historic buildings … are properly preserved,” Jean said.
Project architect, Jerome Muller, acknowledged the restoration was not easy. When work began to restore the decaying 1913 face of Rideau Hall’s Mappin Wing in June 2006, it was scheduled to end in March. But poor drainage around the site that caused deep cracks in the clay beds, along with other unforeseen problems such as damaged masonry hidden by the roof, pushed work into October.
“You can see a big difference from last June,” said stonemason, Paul Butler. “It feels really good to see it now, it looks a lot better.”
The ceremony yesterday included a recreation of the 1913 photograph entitled “The Workmen That Rebuilt Government House, November 1913.”