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The Colonial Building: "If These Walls Could Talk"
Construction and Interior

Noteworthy Events

Debates and Demonstrations

Landmark Moments

Post-Confederation Era


This is a Heritage Partner Project of the Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web Site. Produced in partnership with the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL)

For more information politics in Newfoundland and Labrador, see Government and Politics.

An exhibition on the history of the Colonial Building by the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador, Fall 1997. The exhibition was curated by Patti Ryan.

Soon after Newfoundland won the right of Representative Government, in 1832, it became apparent that one of the first challenges facing the new Government would be to find an adequate place to house their Legislature.

The Colonial Building.
Courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL VA 3-8).
(48 kb)

The first home of the Legislature was a tavern and lodging house owned and operated by a Mrs. Travers. The Legislature's stay with Mrs. Travers turned out to be a short-lived misadventure. The Legislature, in their haste and inexperience, forgot to vote approval for the funds to pay Mrs. Travers her rent. The result was a very irate landlady who seized all the property of the Legislature, not to be released until she was paid what they owed her.

The Legislature was to endure many other temporary homes before they would finally get a building of their own. The Government made its first significant steps toward this when they passed an act in 1836 for the construction of a Colonial Building to serve the dual function of a home for the legislature and a public market house for the people of St. John's. After much debate, and the rejection of numerous other proposed sites, the current site of the Colonial Building was decided upon, with the assistance of the contractor James Purcell and the builder, Patrick Keough.


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