Construction of a transformed Brant Museum is well underway; public acceptance of the project now has to catch up.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

March 24th, 2018



The transformation of the Joseph Brant Museum is well under way.


Architectural rendering of what the new home for the Joseph Brant Museum will look like when it is completed – scheduled for late 2019 – weather permitting.

Brant house on blcks Mar 2018The replica of the house Joseph Brant built now sits on steel beams and pushed closer to North Shore Blvd, where it will remain until the new part of the museum is built.

In an ongoing survey we asked our readers what they thought of the decision to transform the existing museum into something that 3 times bigger; it will have 17,000 sq ft of exhibition space.

The public will not be able to tour the actual house – that is to be used for administration purposes.

Few realized it at the the time but the day of the ground breaking ceremony was the last time the public was going to be in the building.  At least it was packed that day.

brant museum survey - partial

The readership survey has been running for less than a week This is what some of the Gazette readers responded to the question: The decision has been made to transform and significantly enlarge the Joseph Brant Museum. Was this a good idea?

City council vote to proceed with the project was not unanimous.  Councillors Jack Dennison and Marianne Meed Ward were not onside for this nor was Councillor John Taylor all that enthusiastic about the plans that were put forward.

The original house was the building Joseph Brant died in – the structure on the site is a 1937 replica of the house Mohawk native Joseph Brant, Thayendanegea, built on a 1798 Crown land grant.

A man named Thomas B. McQuesten was a province of Ontario Minister who was responsible for the early version of what is now the QEW.  He is said to have used highway building funds to pay for the construction of the replica.  The original had been destroyed by fire.

The total project amount is approved at about $11 million, which includes a contingency fund and allows for cost increases due to a winter construction period. Funding includes:


Grass dancer

An indigenous dancer performs during the ground breaking for a transformed Joseph Brant Museum. Few new at the time that it was the last day the public would actually be in the house part of the museum.

$3.4 million from the City of Burlington

$4.7 million from the Government of Canada

$1.5 million from the Province of Ontario

$2.5 million from the Joseph Brant Museum Foundation

The land the Museum sits on was owned by a Trust that was part of the hospital land holdings.  The Museum was moved several decades ago when the hospital underwent an expansion.

A transformed Museum is being built – the public now needs to get behind the idea and ensure that there are high quality programs and that the Museum is professionally run.



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6 comments to Construction of a transformed Brant Museum is well underway; public acceptance of the project now has to catch up.

  • Evie

    You would think lessons were learned from the Pier fiasco , Complete waste of money

  • Glenda D

    Phillip – Along with the museum waste of federal & provincial government funding, wait until they start looking for federal and provincial grants in the millions as well as City financing to dump rocks in the bay so LaSalle Park Marina can have their way for a few hundred boaters.
    Best joke of all is they keep telling us Burlington business will prosper from it….ya right.

  • Maggie

    I don’t have a problem with the idea of expanding the museum. I do have a problem with the design. As Penny mentioned it is not compatible with the original structure. I also strongly object to the public not being able to go into the current house. It loses it’s charm and purpose as a museum. Let the administration offices be in the new part, which should be more compatible with the house. Given it’s history and location this museum expansion is an opportunity to create a first class facility but it is being ruined by the design.

  • Penny

    Just because a glass structure that is in no way compatible with the original structure is built does not mean that it will become a quality museum that people want to visit. Personally I think people are going to pass by this structure and question who thought this design was the way to go?

    The museum was closed for months and Council didn’t even know it. Are these the same people who will be running the museum when the work is completed?

    Just think if this money was used towards our public transit system? Now that would have been worth getting behind.

    • Phillip

      This project has “boondoggle” written all over it. Not only are the federal and provincial governments using borrowed money to finance the building, but the ongoing operating costs will easily outstrip what revenues are generated by the museums operation–these will be covered by Burlington taxpayers at a time when money is sorely needed for important transit and infrastructure work. The end result will be that the Jos. Brant Museum will take its rightful place alongside the Performing Arts Centre, the Pier to Nowhere, and the New Street Bike Lanes.

  • Marilyn

    Enormous waste of money