Public Works and Government Services Canada

Public Works and Government Services Canada

February 15, 2010 14:00 ET

Government of Canada Receives Award for Halifax Heritage Project

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA--(Marketwire - Feb. 15, 2010) -

Editor's note: A photo for this release is available via Marketwire's website.

The Government of Canada today received the Built Heritage Award from the Nova Scotia Heritage Trust for the Repair Project on the seven-storey tower of the Dominion Public Building in downtown Halifax. The building, with its domed roof topped with the Canadian flag, is a prominent part of the city skyline.

"The Dominion Public Building has dutifully served Canadians, public servants and the Government of Canada for over 70 years," said the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada. "This repair and conservation project ensures it will continue to do so for many years to come."

The two-year, $8 million project was completed in the summer of 2009 by Masontech, the primary contractor for the repair project. Masontech had to number, remove and then replace all 2,693 sandstone blocks from the tower, which encompasses the eighth to the fourteenth floors of the building. Some of the stones weighed as much as 900 kg. Included were eight six-foot-high seahorse sculptures that adorn the tower near the roofline. The domed tower also received a new copper roof in keeping with the original finish.

"It was never our intention to 'preserve' the Dominion Public Building in a time capsule, but to restore the building's structural integrity while retaining its essential heritage value so that it could continue to function as an efficient and attractive asset in Halifax's downtown core long into the future," said Minister Ambrose.

The award will be presented in a ceremony at Halifax Hall, located in Halifax City Hall, at 3:00 p.m. on Heritage Day, February 15, 2010.


Bedford Row Tower Project

The Dominion Public Building at 1713 Bedford Row, Halifax completed in 1936, originally served as a sorting station and administrative offices for Canada Post until 1990. With its distinctive domed tower, it was the first 'skyscraper' to be constructed in Halifax. The structure is one of only two federal government buildings completed in the then British Commonwealth during the brief reign of Edward the Eighth. The Dominion Public Building has been designated as a "Recognized" federal heritage building and is also a Registered Municipal Heritage Property. A four-storey addition was constructed using sympathetic materials in the early 1960s.

The exterior is clad with granite at ground level and Wallace sandstone on the remaining fourteen floors. The decorative motifs evoke the Art Deco period from the cast bronze panels depicting fish, an automobile, train and ship to the geometric and somewhat Egyptian style motifs in sandstone surrounding the main entrance. The Federal Coat of Arms is displayed in relief on a raised parapet above the entrance. Eight nine-foot tall seahorses adorn the tower itself.

In 1991, Public Works and Government Services Canada completed a major renovation to convert the Dominion Public Building to general-purpose office space. At that time the main lobby areas were restored to their former glory. The hexagonal brass light fixtures were rescued from the basement, repaired and reinstalled. Perimeter marble walls were dismantled and remounted in their original positions. Brass postal wickets and doors were restored. Other special details including marble seahorse and shell mosaics, brass grills and terrazzo depictions of the Bluenose and compass have been preserved. In 1993, the department was awarded a Citation from the Nova Scotia Lieutenant Governor for Adaptive Reuse and Restoration of the Dominion Public Building.

Since then, severe water leakage affected the structural frame and masonry anchorages in the tower. Rusting of masonry anchors resulted in some displacement of the sandstone cladding compounded by the effects of freeze/thaw. Although intermittent and localized repointing was performed on the exterior of the Tower, the root cause of stone displacement and joint failure was not addressed. Restoration has prevented serious displacement of the stonework and maintained the safety of the general public and building users.

As part of the project, the Wallace sandstone cladding was removed and stored, and the steel superstructure repaired. The tower was rebuilt to reflect its original character including a new copper roof on the dome. The project was completed in the summer of 2009 at a cost of $8 million.

To view the photo associated with this press release, please visit the following link:

Contact Information

  • Public Works and Government Services Canada
    Atlantic Region
    Nan Taylor, Communications Advisor