TORONTO, June 23, 2011 /CNW/ - Today, the Honourable Michael Chan,
Minister of Tourism and Culture, and Dr. Thomas H.B. Symons, Chairman
of the Ontario Heritage Trust, announced a new interpretive centre
commemorating the site of Ontario's first parliament buildings and the
War of 1812.
"This commemorative centre will provide a unique opportunity for
citizens and visitors to learn about and mark significant events from
our collective past - a fitting and timely initiative as we prepare for
next year's celebration of both the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and
the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, events that will highlight and
reinforce the Crown's important role in our parliamentary democracy,"
said the Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.
"The opening of the new interpretative centre is an innovative approach
in the commemoration of the province's first parliament site," said
Minister Chan. "The bicentennial of the War of 1812 is a wonderful
opportunity to highlight such significant sites and honour these
chapters in our history."
The commemorative centre will open in February 2012 at 265 Front Street
East in Toronto, on a property acquired by the province and transferred
to the Ontario Heritage Trust in 2005. It and three adjoining
properties comprise the site of Ontario's first purpose-built
parliament buildings. Opened in 1797, the buildings were burned by
invading American forces during the War of 1812. They were later
rebuilt, but were destroyed by fire again in 1824.
"This new commemorative centre will not only shed light on the history
of this site, it will also put that history in a provincial and
national context," said the Honourable Glen Murray, Minister of
Research and Innovation and MPP Toronto Centre. "It will be an
excellent addition to the other attractions that bring visitors into
this historic neighbourhood."
"Next year's bicentennial is an ideal time to draw attention to the
importance of Ontario's first parliament buildings, which were
destroyed in battle during the War of 1812," said Dr. Symons. "We are
delighted that the new commemorative centre will showcase this history,
exploring the evolution of our democracy and the significance of the
war, both of which have played major roles in shaping the province and
the country we know today."
The existing building on the property, a former car dealership, will be
adapted to house the new commemorative centre. The front showroom area
will accommodate interpretive exhibits and displays, as well as provide
space for educational activities and special events. A request for
commercial leasing proposals for the remainder of the building will be
initiated in the near future, to assist with the operating costs of the
"Many citizens of Old Town Toronto and local organizations have been
eager to see this site commemorated and interpreted, particularly as
the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 approaches," said Rollo Myers, who has
been actively involved for many years with the protection of the site
of Ontario's first parliament buildings. "I'm delighted that the
Trust's centre will celebrate the bicentennial and showcase the
critical early years of Upper Canada, as many of Ontario's most
important institutions - social, political and religious - trace their
beginnings to this site."
As the Trust begins to plan for the centre, it will develop
opportunities to involve community groups, provincial and federal
partners, War of 1812 regional groups and educators to ensure that the
site's programming reflects its significance from a local, provincial,
national and international perspective.
The Ontario Heritage Trust is an agency of the Government of Ontario,
dedicated to identifying, preserving, protecting and promoting
The first parliament site in Toronto is located on the block bordered by
Front Street East on the north, Berkeley Street on the west, and
Parliament Street on the east.
Burned during the War of 1812, it is the only parliamentary site in
Canada to have been attacked in an international war.
Today, the site is historically significant as the birthplace of
democratic government in Ontario.
Information about the history of Ontario's first parliament buildings is
available on the Trust's website at www.heritagetrust.on.ca. Details about the interpretive centre will be posted as they become
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SOURCE Ontario Heritage Trust
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Ontario Heritage Trust