One of the earliest European settlements in the Province of Ontario, Sainte Marie among the Hurons is a site of national heritage significance and international interest. The challenge of assembling a conservation plan for three fireplace ruins at this important historic site offered an opportunity to approach conservation by first asking how to best interpret and present these artifacts to the public.
The site’s three fireplaces, which date to the 1640s, are the oldest stone masonry to be found west of Quebec City. Having been excavated in the 1940s during archeological excavations, the fireplaces had been exposed and degrading for 70 years. Huronia Historical Parks retained ERA Architects to prepare a Conservation Master Plan to ensure their conservation in the future.
ERA conducted and managed extensive architectural and field-based research, including non-destructive site assessment, mortar analysis, and various methods of mapping changes in the archeological forms over time.
Final recommendations involved establishing appropriate methods of interpreting and exhibiting the artifacts to the public, stabilizing the built forms using minimal intervention, protecting the artifacts from seasonal damage, and establishing a consistent team of heritage masonry professionals to provide continuity of maintenance over time.