Prime Minister Announces Canada History Centre

by E.B. Lapointe

On 26 May, 2003, the Honourable Jean Chretien, Prime Minister of Canada, announced the creation of the Canada History Centre.

The centre—which will be located in the former Union Railway Station (currently known as the Canadian Conference Centre) in Ottawa, the country’s capital—has, as its mandate, the preservation of Canada’s political and civic history.

In a statement read at the opening, the prime minister said that “Together Canadians have built a nation that is strong, prosperous and free. We must know the builders of our nation to sustain what their mind and hearts, their muscles and their blood, have created.” He further added that “The Canada History Centre will bring to life the memories of men and women who, through their lives, their vision and their actions, inscribed their names on the rolls of our history.”

Although physically located in Ottawa, the centre will collect materials from the Library and Archives of Canada (no word yet as to if this will include the Canadian Genealogy Centre written about in the previous column entitled, ”Canadian Genealogy Centre Opens on 29 March, 2003”), as well as other museums and cultural organizations across the country. Much of the material will then be placed in travelling exhibits across the country, and is to be featured on the Internet. It will also be an interactive centre, taking advantage of the many technological innovations in presenting Canadian history to the peoples of the world.

Heritage Minister Sheila Copps was also on hand for the announcement, in which she said that “Canadians want to know more about our country and our history. Today, through the creation of the centre, the Government of Canada is taking a decisive step to respond to this need.”

The government will provide funding of approximately $50 million over the next five years towards the development of the Canada History Centre for renovations of the building and in the collection and dissemination of the museum components.

In a spate of what seems to be many announcements made over the past couple years by the government concerning cultural subjects, the government is also in the process of building a new Canadian War Museum on unused land at LeBreton Flats (property located by the Portage Bridge over to the city of Gatineau, in the province of Quebec), as well as the Portrait Gallery of Canada, which will be located across from Parliament Hill on Wellington Street.

To find out more about these announcements, please go to and click on the Canadian War Museum to read the latest news about the museum.

For more information about the Portrait Gallery of Canada, please go to This gallery is to be located at 100 Wellington Street (near the War Memorial) and will house over 4 million portraits and 20,000 works of art. It will open in 2006.

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    "A former newspaper reporter in Canada's capital, Ottawa, I became interested in writing about genealogy when researching my own ancestor, Andrew Barclay, an American Loyalist from Boston, Massachusetts, early in 1990. Quickly, my interest spread beyond my own family, and by 1994, I was editing a genealogy newsletter and by 1997, I was editing the Sourcing Canada series of books. Since then, I have gone on to write "My Ancestor Was French Canadian" and a series of booklets on Canadian genealogy. I love to travel the Canadian and American countryside looking for interesting people and places to photograph and to write about." - E.B. Lapointe

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