Nicole, Queen's Square | May 22, 2018
When Canada became a confederated nation in 1867, our first Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald, launched a national campaign to bring the country together. His goal was to create a federal presence that would be recognizable in both the small towns and big cities of Canada. In 1881, Macdonald appointed Thomas Fuller as Chief Architect for the Department of Public Works. He was tasked with designing and overseeing the construction of over 140 public buildings, including 74 post offices. Fuller’s trademark designs were a combination of French Renaissance and High Gothic styles. Their presence across Canada established a national architectural image that evoked authority and stability, distinctly recognized as federal buildings.
The post offices Fuller constructed across the country, some of which still are standing today (including our beloved Old Post Office!), were not Fuller’s most famed constructions. Prior to his role as Chief Architect, in 1859 Fuller designed the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, including the Library of Parliament. He went on to design the New York State Capital in Albany, New York in 1867. Because of this history, Fuller’s post offices reflect the architectural grandeur of the Parliament Buildings, although each individual building was somewhat tailored to the unique character of its city.
Thomas Fuller died in Ottawa in 1898, ending the period that has been defined as a “golden age of federal architecture in Canada.” His work lives on in communities across the country. In 2016, Fuller was designated a National Historic Person in Canada.