Description of Historic Place
The Government of Canada Building in Tignish is an early 20th century brick building located prominently on Church Street. It features a distinctive corner clock tower, round arch windows on the ground floor, and rectangular windows on the second floor.
The heritage value of the Government of Canada Building in Tignish lies in its architectural style; its use as a post office in the community; and for its contribution to its streetscape.
In the late 19th century, Tignish was the northern terminus of the Prince Edward Island Railway. It was also an important fishing port on the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Despite its population of less than 500, it was a commercial centre for western Prince Edward Island. It had two hotels, a warehouse, hardware store, churches, and general stores. However, in late August 1896, tragedy struck the community when a devastating fire consumed six blocks of the town. Gone were many of the landmarks of the community, including the post office.
In 1896, David Ewart replaced Thomas Fuller as the Chief Dominion Architect for federal buildings in Canada. He would serve in this role until 1914. He would design the current Tignish post office building which was constructed from 1911-1912. It officially opened in 1913.
Its design is very similar to post offices built in Humbolt, Saskatchewan (1911), Rock Island, Quebec (1911), and numerous other small towns across the country. The brick construction and French Romanesque style as shown in the tower with its conical roof, was intended to enhance the visual impact of the Canadian government in small communities across the country and tended to be trademarks of Ewart's designs.
In the early 20th century, from 1900 to 1914, the number of public buildings built in Canada increased by close to 200 percent. They were expressions of the optimism and expansion of the nation at this time. This example in Tignish, was part of that trend and was initiated by local politicians Charles Dalton and Dr. Patrick Charles Murphy.
Today, this well preserved building is still used as a post office and is the only Ewart building in the French Romanesque style in Prince Edward Island.
Source: Culture and Heritage Division, PEI Department of Communities, Cultural Affairs and Labour, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8
File #: 4320-20/G5
The following character-defining elements illustrate the heritage value of the Government of Canada Building in Tignish:
- The brick construction with two storeys
- The mansard roof
- The corner clock tower in the French Romanesque style with conical roof
- The round arch windows of the first floor
- The rectangular windows of the second floor
- The stone lintels and keystones of the windows
- The wall dormers
- The round arch entrance in the tower
Other character-defining elements include:
- The location of the building on Church Street in Tignish and its continued use as a post office for the community