Ex-Prime Minister John Diefenbaker seen during a media scrum in 1971 . ((Peter Bregg/Canadian Press))

A museum dedicated to John Diefenbaker, the former prime minister, is getting a $1.3 million boost from the federal government.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the spending in Saskatoon, at the University of Saskatchewan where the Diefenbaker Canada Centre is located.

The museum's exhibits include donated papers and other memorabilia from Diefenbaker, who was Canada's 13th prime minister.

Harper tied his announcement to anniversaries with direct links to Diefenbaker: the 50th anniversary of the Canadian Bill of Rights and the 30th birthday of the Centre itself.

"John Diefenbaker believed all Canadians were equal before the law, and that the powers of government were not without limit.  Above all, he believed in freedom," Prime Minister Harper was quoted as saying in a press release provided by his office.

"To give practical expression to these profoundly valuable ideas, he stood before the House of Commons on Dominion Day in 1960, and introduced Canada's Bill of Rights.  It is entirely fitting that 50 years after John Diefenbaker endowed Canada with its Bill of Rights, our Government continues to support the Diefenbaker Canada Centre as an important national treasure."

Upgrades to the centre will expand its ability to display items in its collection.

The federal government contribution to the renovation project is $1.3 million. The University of Saskatchewan is chipping in another $1.3 million.

Diefenbaker was Prime Minister of Canada from 1957 to 1963.