Changes coming to Kingston's Bellevue House, former residence of Sir John A. Macdonald

July 30, 2023

A new management plan for the Bellevue House, National Historic Site in Kingston, has been tabled in Parliament.

The Bellevue House, located on Centre Street, was home to Sir John A. Macdonald from 1848 to 1849. The current description of the site is a place to “explore the complex legacy” of Canada’s first prime minister.

Under the Parks Canada Act, it is required that site management plans be reviewed every 10 years. This year’s review has resulted in several strategic changes to the exhibit presented in the house.

The creation of the new management plan was informed by discussions with Indigenous partners, the site’s Community Advisory Committee, local and regional residents, partners and stakeholders, the public and community organization. The management plan for Bellevue House also includes input from other partners and stakeholders, local residents, and visitors.

The new plan for the Bellevue house identifies three key strategies moving forward.

Firstly, they aim to present an “evolving understanding” of Sir John A. MacDonald’s legacy by addressing this piece of history from multiple points of view, being open to continuously updating messages, and engaging in challenging discussions.

Secondly, they aim to increase awareness and boost the site’s presence as one of the city’s historic places.

The final key strategy identified in the plan is to provide a “renewed heritage experience,” aiming to reach a wider audience and modernize their programming.

Mark Gerretsen, Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands, stated the following regarding the new plan:

"Parks Canada has been working with Indigenous community members, stakeholders, and other experts to ensure that the impacts of the decisions taken, and institutions created under the leadership of Sir John A. Macdonald are presented through the viewpoints of many voices," he stated. "I would like to thank everyone who contributed to the management plan for Bellevue House National Historic Site that will help shape the future of this treasured place. As the Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands, I applaud this collaborative effort to ensure Bellevue House continues to reflect our shared heritage and will be enjoyed for generations to come."

Story by Christena Lawrie, CFRC News, for the Local Journalism Initiative