Nicole, Queen's Square | February 1, 2019
Of all the beautiful architectural features in the Old Post Office, the Heritage Staircase is certainly one that catches the attention of all who visit. Joining the basement through to the second floor, the staircase consists of Douglas fir, pine, and oak. It is impressive in both its length and the winding curves it takes as it travels up the building. Refinishing the stairs was one of the most labour-intensive jobs in the building restoration. Rooftile Management, the company that managed the project, did extensive research to ensure Thomas Fuller’s original plans were followed as closely as possible. Fuller established all the original dimensions of the staircase, finishing his instructions with the statement, “all stairs to be up and framed in the best and most workmanlike manner, according to the detailed drawings.”
Rooftile Management took this charge seriously. The team, led by contractor Henry Forget, encountered multiple challenges throughout the restoration. All of the rise and run measurements from the original staircase needed to be modified to fit today’s code, as well as match the new heights of the basement and first floor. The curved wall between the first and second floors needed to be rebuilt, and then the new curved staircase was dropped in. As well, up to three layers of flooring, including vinyl and tile that was place in earlier renovations throughout the 1970s and 1980s, needed to be stripped off in efforts to expose the original wood wherever possible. Vince Brake, the heritage carpenter who did 90% of the work on the staircase, needed to work extensively on the railing and balusters. This work included stripping them down and replicating any pieces that were broken from previous renovations.
The staircase now is a thing of beauty, with the white railing throughout the entirety of the staircase a replication of the original design, and the metal handrail added for safety. It’s rare that you’ll have someone walk the staircase for the first time in the Old Post Office and not comment on its impressiveness. As one child put it while she traversed the stairs, “It feels Iike I’m in a castle!” Thank you, Rooftile Management, for your diligent and detailed work restoring the Heritage Staircase!