Site of famous ‘Kitchen Accord’ being recreated
Senate requests space in renovated building be held to honour 1981 deal
Construction plans for the Government Conference Centre are changing slightly at the Senate’s request so that workers can recreate the site of one of the more colourful stories from the fight to bring home Canada’s Constitution.
Architects are adjusting floor plans to recreate the site of the “Kitchen Accord,” then leave it to the Senate to turn it into a museum.
The fifth-floor kitchen in the conference centre was the spot in 1981 where then-justice minister Jean Chrétien and attorneys general Roy McMurtry of Ontario and Roy Romanow of Saskatchewan reportedly hammered out a compromise that helped save the tense constitutional talks from failure.
The moment has come to be known as the “Kitchen Accord.”
The Senate wants the room preserved as an artifact of modern Canadian history, part of renovations to the conference centre to create a temporary home for the upper chamber while the Centre Block undergoes badly needed renovations.
Last summer, senators visiting the site realized the room had been demolished.
Workers had to dismantle it after a broken pipe flooded the room in 2013. There was also asbestos in the walls and workers had to strip out all materials.
The Senate is to move into the conference centre when the Centre Block is closed for renovations in 2018. The conference centre is being renovated to create a temporary Senate chamber, office and meeting spaces, at a cost of about $190 million.
Preparations began in the fall. Then came demolition work. Construction started last month.
In October, architects did some “internal juggling” of the layout plans to recreate the space with only “bare walls, floors and ceiling,” according to an October email from a senior director overseeing the work at the conference centre. That will leave the Senate with a museum room similar to ones in the East Block.
(The East Block has a series of offices and rooms that, as part of renovations to that building, were restored to their historical feel and look. Among the rooms on the second floor of the East Block are Sir John A. Macdonald’s office at the time of Confederation and the room where cabinet once met. These rooms are only accessible to the public through guided tours between July and early September.)
Finding space for the kitchen in the conference centre meant taking space away from an office and from a lounge for Senate pages. A spokeswoman for the department overseeing the work said the construction changes won’t come with any additional costs.
“Since the design of this space is at the early stages and the changes will be minor, there are no costs to adapt the planned layout. The fit-up and furnishing of this space will be at the discretion and responsibility of the Senate,” said Annie Joannette, a spokeswoman for Public Works and Government Services Canada.
However, the Senate hasn’t yet figured out how much it will cost — or how much it is willing to spend from its own budget — to turn the bare walls, floors and ceiling into a museum room. It’s also not clear how accessible this room would be to the public.
“The intent is that this historical site be preserved and used to provide interpretative visits for dignitaries and other visitors,” said Senate spokeswoman Nancy Durning.
The intent is that this historical site be preserved and used to provide interpretative visits for dignitaries.