Founders Hall to close after 2014

Charlottetown's Founders Hall will close next year, its operators said Monday.
Founders Hall drew only 8,000 paying visitors last year. (

Charlottetown's Founders Hall will close next year, its operators said Monday.

The exhibit on the waterfront opened more than a decade ago. The attraction tells the story of Canadian Confederation, starting with the Charlottetown Conference in 1864.

Next year marks the 150th anniversary of the conference. Its operators say they know the exhibit is past its prime, but say it wouldn't make sense to close it down so close to the anniversary.

"Things change over time and these products have a shelf life," said Ron Waite, general manager of the Charlottetown Area Development Corp. "I think this one has long lived past what would be the normal shelf life for an attraction such as this."

Founders Hall building and interpretive centre cost $4 million in public money and opened in 2001. It received 25,000 visitors that year. Last year, it drew 8,000 people in paid admissions.

Tourism Charlottetown did not operate Founders Hall last year, so Charlottetown's Harbour Authority took over.  It lost $50,000 running the exhibit. CADC, which owns the building, took over this year and expects to lose money.

"I think it’s important given that we're heading into 2014. It would seem a bit silly for us to be closing one of the attractions that commemorates the landing of the fathers here," he said.

"It was a conscious decision on CADC's part to continue to operate it at least for this period of time."

CADC is said it's unlikely the exhibit will go on in its current form and location past the end of next year.

Few visitors

On Monday, a few people stopped by the visitor information centre in the hall, but fewer went into the exhibit.

"I've been in here probably 10 or 15 times through the years. I've walked by it, I've never been in it," said tourist John Selig.

The Massachusetts man said he just hasn’t gotten around to it. "I come up here to play golf. These are one of the things I'd save for a rainy day, and it hasn't rained yet," he joked.

Sidney Nichols, visiting from New England, said she wasn’t interested in the Island’s history. "We are more concerned with the landscape, the outdoors," she said.

CADC is looking for tenants or buyers interested in purchasing or leasing the historic building after 2014.