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Visiting Pembroke, Ontario: A Solid City Hall Dating from 1889

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Provincial flag of Ontario

Provincial flag of Ontario

Pembroke City Hall and Muskrat River

Pembroke City Hall and Muskrat River

Clear lines of design and influence

The settlement which became Pembroke began in 1828, in connection with the lumber industry.

The current City Hall building dates from 1889 (1). It was designed by Thomas Fuller (1823-1898)(2), the architect for the Library of the Parliament of Canada and of the original centre block of Parliament, Ottawa. Its foundation stone was laid by Sir Hector Langevin (1826-1906), Minister of Public Works, in 1888.

Interestingly, the solid building which today houses Pembroke's City Hall served until 1958 as the Post Office. Parts of the building were also used by the Collector of Customs and the Collector of Inland Revenue. Modifications to the building were made in 1912, 1914 and 1941.

Features of the building include a prominent, ornate gable, Syrian window arching and a conspicuous clock tower which dominates the skyline of the Downtown area.

The building is situated at 1 Pembroke Street East, close to that street's intersection with Mackay Street. It overlooks the Muskrat River, not far from its confluence with the Ottawa River.

Interestingly, a significant part of the urban agglomeration around Pembroke is actually administered by the Township of Laurentian Valley, rather than by the City of Pembroke.

Pembroke functions to some extent as a de facto regional centre for neighbouring parts of Quebec, given the existence a small number of kilometres away of a bridge into the Municipalité régionale de comté de Pontiac / Pontiac Regional County Municipality.

Thus in a strict sense, the City Hall does not even govern the whole of the urban agglomeration around Pembroke. But more informally the City radiates its influence over the Provincial boundary.

November 13, 2020

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(1) See also:

(2) Other works by Architect Fuller include the New York State Capitol, Albany, NY, to the design of which he was a leading contributor; he served as the Dominion Architect from 1881 until 1896.

Thomas Fuller (March 8, 1823 – September 28, 1898) Source: WJTopley, LibArchCan PA-116162 / MIKAN ID 3215864, public domain,

Thomas Fuller (March 8, 1823 – September 28, 1898) Source: WJTopley, LibArchCan PA-116162 / MIKAN ID 3215864, public domain,

Also worth seeing

In Pembroke itself, visitor attractions include the Neoclassical Refrew County Courthouse, completed in 1866; the Champlain Trail Pioneer Village and Museum, Pembroke Hydro Museum, a large number of commemorative murals; and many others; to some extent, Pembroke acts as a service centre for nearby Algonquin Park; its marina is popular for boating on the Ottawa River.

Renfrew (distance: 58.7 kilometres), the McDougall Mill Museum, in a stone building dating from 1855, overlooks the Bonnechere River; a swinging bridge, first built in 1895, attracts visitors to the town; other notable structures include the stone Government of Canada Building, with a conspicuous clock tower, dating from 1909; Bonnechere Provincial Park is located near the town.

In Ottawa (distance: 147.6 kilometres), among the numerous visitor attractions are: Parliament Hill; the National War Memorial of Canada; Château Laurier; the Rideau Canal; Laurier House; Rideau Hall; the Bank of Canada Currency Museum; the Supreme Court of Canada Building, and many others. Neighbouring Gatineau , Quebec, has the Canadian Museum of Civilization (Musée canadien des civilisations), which is Canada's most visited museum. Gatineau's Citizen's House (French: Masion du citoyen) has a noted art gallery and the Hall of the Nations (French: Hall des nations) containing valuable cultural artifacts from around the world. Gatineau Park (French: Parc de la Gatineau) has exceptional recreational and scenic possibilities.


How to get there: Air Canada flies from various North American destinations to Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport / Aéroport international Macdonald-Cartier d'Ottawa (distance from Pembroke, Ontario: 151.6 kilometres); car rental is available. Please note that some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

Map location of Pembroke, Ontario

Map location of Pembroke, Ontario

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