New Brunswick

Miramichi's Rankin House to be torn down by government

The historic Rankin House in Miramichi will be demolished with the site turned into an interpretive park.

Historic 1830s home too expensive to restore, site will become interpretive park

The Rankin House, at 2224 King George Highway in Miramichi, was the home of Alexander Rankin, the founder of Douglastown. (Google Image)

After years of efforts to save it by both government and cultural groups in Miramichi, historic Rankin House is going to be demolished.

The 1830s home of the founder of Douglastown, Alexander Rankin, has been closed since 2010 after a flood left mould damage throughout the building.

Now, after years of consultation, the province, the City of Miramichi, the Miramichi Highland Society and Miramichi Historical Society have put together a partnership that will turn the site into an interpretive park.

"It's unfortunate that it's come to this," said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Bill Fraser. "Our government and previous governments have worked with the historical society for a number of years to try to find a third-party partner to take over the site.

Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Bill Fraser, sad he was "sad to see it go," but finds the park the best option for the Rankin House property. (CBC)
"Unfortunately that didn't happen, and the house has been vacant and not accessible for a number of years. So this is the best option in order to clean up the site, turn it into a municipal site for everyone to enjoy."

The home has a storied history in the community, having also served as a school until 1980.

The Scottish-born Rankin is one of the most important historical figures of the province, establishing the merchant trading firm Gilmour, Rankin and Company, one of the leaders in opening up the forests of New Brunswick and establishing the Miramichi area as a prominent port in its heyday in the 19th century.

Too expensive to restore

The province said it would cost almost $900,000 to fully restore the house, so instead it's been decided to demolish it and clean up the site. The department will pay the cost.

The city will then take over the site for $1 and become responsible for the new park.

A tender is going out in the next few days for the demolition, which should be completed in the fall, said Fraser.

The parties involved will meet through the winter, said Fraser, to "put together a plan to put an interpretive site there to tell the history and the story of the Rankin house and the Rankin family, because it's a very important piece of Miramichi's heritage."

Fraser said they plan to save a fireplace, and portions of the foundation walls, and incorporate those into the interpretive site.