The New Brunswick Legislature, housed in a building esteemed as one of Canada’s architectural marvels, was masterminded by Saint John architect J.C. Dumaresq. After a suspicious fire in 1880 razed the previous structure, Dumaresq triumphed in the contest to design a new edifice. He opted for the Second Empire style, which gained traction in Saint John after the Great Fire of 1877 and was commonly used for Canada’s prominent public buildings during the 1870s and 1880s. Dumaresq’s design incorporated Council and Assembly Chambers, a Supreme Court chamber, and a library built in the style of a Roman basilica.
Constructed from Dorchester sandstone and Spoon Island Granite sourced from Gagetown in close proximity, the building was officially opened in 1882. The structure is characterized by corner pavilions, a slim pedimented central bay protruding slightly from the main façade, and an imposing central cupola that reaches 144 feet. Embellishments include ornately carved stone details like Corinthian columns, Native faces with feather headdresses gracing the upper portico corners, and a stone-carved visage of Queen Victoria above the entrance arch. The building is also noted for its self-standing spiral staircase and the statue of Britannia—complete with her trident, signifying Britain’s maritime supremacy—perched atop the roof. The Assembly Chamber is highlighted by exquisite Irish crystal and brass chandeliers, Japanesque wallpaper (a style in vogue during the 1880s), and a steep wraparound balcony for public spectators.
The Legislature’s copper dome in Fredericton underwent an extensive refurbishment process starting in 2006. This project entailed replacing the decayed wood framing and sheathing where required with new wood, and swapping out the deteriorated galvanized steel cladding for copper.
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