Diefenbaker Building Rejuvenation

University faculty, visiting scholars, students, and the general public are enjoying the modernized Diefenbaker Canada Centre. Recent renovations have transformed the building into a vibrant hub of public affairs, teaching, research, and programming.

The Diefenbaker Canada Centre is the only combined Prime Ministerial archives, museum, and research centre in Canada. It receives about 11,000 visitors per year, many of whom are school students. The building was constructed in 1979 to house the papers, memorabilia, and personal library bequeathed to the U of S by the former prime minister. Today, it is also home to the university’s Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy and the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives.

The recent renovation project involved a number of components.

Component A – Academic and Teaching Element – Multi-Purpose Room Development

  • The project took advantage of some underused and poorly equipped spaces in the rest of the building to create an 80-seat classroom/lecture space. The existing meeting/lecture space (which can accommodate up to 25) was updated, and the river-facing lounge space was reconfigured to create a multi-purpose room. These improvements have enhanced the building’s function as an academic facility by creating valuable learning spaces for the entire university community.
  • Realignment of space would also provide two additional office spaces.
  • Renovation of existing Board Room to two office space.

Component B – Research, Gallery and Conservation Element – Gallery/Exhibit/Archival and Collections Storage

Upgrades to the collection storage area, along with equipment upgrades and enlargement of the conservation and preparation area, will ensure historically significant artifacts will be protected and preserved in the appropriate environment.  The Diefenbaker Building was refurbished and upgraded to maintain its status as a museum and cultural centre and appropriately preserve the Diefenbaker legacy.  Work included:

  • renovation and upgrade to the Main Gallery and Exhibit area
  • reconfiguration of the Curator’s Office, Exhibit Preparation and Artifact Conservation area, and the Permanent Collection Storage space
  • development of a storage space for Temporary Collections,
  • installation of  high-density storage system to accommodate museum-type collections into the Permanent Collections Storage space 

Component C – Public Spaces Element – Aesthetics Improvement of Lobby Area

These overall upgrades, combined with the aesthetic enhancements in the gallery space and lobby, provide the ideal venue for displaying the Diefenbaker collection as well as travelling exhibits.

This comprehensive renovation project has revitalized the Diefenbaker Building’s potential as a centre for leadership development and outreach programming.