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Former home of Sir John A. Macdonald reopens after undergoing extensive renovations

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The former home of Sir John A. Macdonald is reopening to visitors following an extensive renovation of its building, exhibits and programming in Kingston, Ont., announced Parks Canada.

The opening announcement for the Bellevue House was made at a ceremonial event held in Kingston on Saturday by the chief of Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte Rodrick Donald Maracle and local politicians.

“Macdonald did not start residential schools, but under his leadership they expanded. Confederation did not create a country through friendship, peace or mutual respect with the Indigenous Peoples that lived here long before Europeans knew of this continent," said Donald Maracle.

"Macdonald expanded Canada while his government failed to meet treaty obligations with Indigenous Nations. Macdonald supported oppression of Indigenous Peoples’ identity; their language, spirituality, the places they came from were stripped from them."

The historic site gives visitors the opportunity to understand the "lasting legacies of the Victorian system, while exploring Canada's first prime minister's actions.

"Canadian history books were written to glorify colonialism and European development, devalued how Indigenous Peoples lived in harmony with the land, and did not address the injustices they experienced. The new exhibits at Bellevue House provide a place where truths of Macdonald are able to be fully discussed, and I hope many will choose to visit and learn more," said Donald Maracle.

The new programs were made in partnership with Indigenous communities to "reflect the diverse lives lived in the 1800s, including those of Indigenous, racialized, working-class and upper-class individuals."

“The new exhibits at Bellevue House National Historic Site explore historical conflicts and controversies from many viewpoints, leading to a greater understanding of Canadian society today. Bellevue House provides a space where people living can learn from a variety of perspectives on Canada’s history and share their own stories," said Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault.

This is the first time since 1967 that exhibits and programming have undergone a complete review and revitalization. The structural remaking included the installation of a completely new roof, updating all electrical systems and wiring, repairs to the original plaster ceilings, restoration of the floors and a refresh of all the walls, panelling and mouldings.

The historic site is open to the public Thursday through Monday from May 18 to June 30. Then, it's open seven days a week from July 1 to Sep. 2 and open Thursday through Monday from Sep. 3 to Oct. 14.

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