New Exhibit at Commissariat House Explores the Making of News in 19th Century St. John’s
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A new multi-media exhibit called Words Matter was launched at the Commissariat House Provincial Historic Site in St. John’s today. The Honourable Terry French, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, was at the site for the opening.
“The new exhibit at Commissariat House offers a contemporary and creatively different approach to engage visitors by bringing to life the political and social scene of St. John’s in the 1830s,” said Minister French. “We get to relive the conditions that led to one of the major changes in 19th century Newfoundland – our first elections in 1832.”
The overall theme of the exhibit is focused on communication – the rhetoric of the citizens of the Colony of Newfoundland from pulpits to pubs, in petitions, pamphlets, and the press. News was distributed and received through discussion, gossip and debate. It was not uncommon for newspapers to be read aloud to gatherings of interested people.
Through poetry, shadow puppet plays, and exhibits, visitors can eavesdrop on the voices and characters that animated one of the most fascinating chapters in this province’s past – a period of rapid social and political change that brought naval government to a close.
Commissariat House is an ideal location to tell this story. Built in 1818 as the home and office of the Assistant Commissary General, the supply officer for British forces in Newfoundland, the house was once one of the finest on the island. In 1969, the house and grounds were purchased by the Provincial Government.
“We have worked on making Commissariat House more appealing and visible to visitors,” said Minister French, “As well as introducing this new exhibit, we have expanded our events calendar, taken down the fence on King’s Bridge Road, installed new signage, and improved the landscaping on the property.”
Throughout the summer, Commissariat House, as well as other Provincial Historic Sites, will be hosting craftspeople demonstrating their creative work. In addition, self-guided tours will soon be offered to visitors at Commissariat House and Beothuk Interpretation Centre in Boyd’s Cove. Programming initiatives such as these are being made possible through an additional investment of $75,000 for Provincial Historic Sites in Budget 2011 Standing Strong: For Prosperity. For Our Future. For Newfoundland and Labrador.
The next two events at Provincial Historic Sites are Canada Day at the Mockbeggar Plantation in Bonavista on July 1 and Landing the Cable Anniversary Celebration at the Heart’s Content Cable Station on July 27. For more information about programs and events scheduled at Provincial Historic Sites, visit www.seethesites.ca.
Through total funding of $5.1 million in Budget 2011, the Provincial Government will build on investments made under its cultural strategy Creative Newfoundland and Labrador: The Blueprint for Development and Investment in Culture, to further support opportunity in the arts and heritage sectors. Since the introduction of the cultural strategy in 2006, over $56 million in new funding has been invested in the cultural and heritage sectors.
Photo: The new exhibit at Commissariat House Provincial Historic Site called Words Matter traces the rhetoric of citizens within the Colony of Newfoundland from pulpits to pubs, in petitions, pamphlets, and the press.
Director of Communications
Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation