Morrin Centre Annouces Parks Canada Grant For Old Jail

The Morrin Centre has received a $106,225 grant from Parks Canada to restore the jail cells in the building and create an interpretation centre in one of the cellblocks.

"I'll be very excited once the actual restoration starts," said Simon Jacobs, the Executive Director of the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec

The cells were used as the city jail from the early 1800s to the mid 1860s. It was built to hold about 150 prisoners, but actually held about 300.

During the restoration project, there will be a selective and careful dismantling of some aspects of the cellblocks. The wooden walls and stone work along the floors and staircases will be cleaned and stones will be restored. The floors will also be restored and doors will be manufactured and installed to both the cellblocks. About $81,000 will be spent on the restoration, while about $25,000 will be spent on the interpretation centre.

Jacobs says the interpretation centre will be used to "expose and talk about the [Anglophone] community in Quebec City. It isn't really talked about anywhere else in the city."

He says the details about the centre have yet to be determined. He hopes that by the end of the fall an intern in museology will be helping the Morrin Centre prepare the interpretation centre for the jail cells.

"Our historic sites are of great value to the local community and offer Canadians a wonderful opportunity to experience and learn from our heritage," said Sylvie Boucher, Member of Parliament representing Beauport-Limoilou, who spoke on behalf of the Jim Prentice, federal Minister of the Environment and the minister responsible for Parks Canada.

The Parks Canada grant was meant to cover half the costs of the restoration project, but the Morrin Centre representatives realized after they submitted the paperwork that the project would cost more than originally planned.

A second level of floorboards, discovered beneath the exposed ones, had deteriorated, due to widespread rot. The cost of the extra work will likely bring the final bill closer to $300,000, rather than the originally estimated $212,000.

Jacobs says that the Morrin Centre will continue to seek funding, and may re-apply for funding with Parks Canada, if possible.

The current funding comes from a $20 million budget provided by Canada's Economic Action Plan, which was put in place by the Harper government to support job creation by providing financing for the conservation of national historical sites.