CHARLOTTETOWN — A museum devoted to telling the story of Canada’s birth — built blocks away from the site of the Charlottetown Conference — has shut down permanently due to lack of interest.
Founders Hall in downtown Charlottetown opened in 2001 and explained Canada’s inception, beginning with the Charlottetown Conference in 1864.
But Ron Waite, general manager of the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation, said attendance has been dwindling in recent years as the attraction struggled to keep people interested.
“It’s a beautiful facility and you hate to see it go, but the pragmatic elements of it are that it’s losing money and at some stage you have to make a decision,” said Waite, whose corporation owns the building where the exhibit is located.
Waite said when Founders Hall first opened, up to 40,000 people would visit the exhibit in a year. But only about 13,000 people walked through its doors last year, he said.
“Our costs keep going up just to keep it running as it is today,” said Waite in a recent phone interview.
“In order to realistically carry on, we were going to have to make a reinvestment, so the decision was made that there wasn’t funding available to do it.”
Waite said at least a million dollars would be needed to update the exhibit, which had cost $4 million to build in 2001.
“To make it relevant is today’s environment, it would have to have a much more interactive nature to it,” said Waite, adding that the attraction had static displays with some video elements.
“To repurpose that and create the story in a digital, interactive nature, it would require a significant investment. I say a million dollars, but frankly it could be substantially more than that.”
Waite said his corporation is now looking for a tenant to take over the space — a former rail car shop that was renovated to accommodate the attraction.
“We’re looking for something that would fit with tourism and entertainment in the area,” said Waite.
— By Aly Thomson in Halifax.
By The Canadian Press