Jarred Picher, Parks Canada’s Hamilton-based acting field superintendent for southwestern Ontario, said the renovation unexpectedly “identified some of the concerns that needed to be addressed so that we can ensure the safety” of visitors.
Picher called the problems “structural integrity issues.”
The museum was re-opened during summer 2011 but when “we uncovered some of the issues it was immediately closed until further notice,” he said.
Then in 2012 the first floor was opened only.
This year the building has been completely closed.
Picher expects the repairs to be done beginning this fall and the museum to open as normal next season, which kicks off the long weekend in May.
“We’ve engaged an engineering company, they’ve developed a solution for us, one that respects the cultural fabric of the site and our intent is to actually implement the improvements this fall,” he said.
“So as soon as the visitor season is over we’re going to have crews in there to make sure that we can open the building for the next visitor’s season,” he said.
The building was closed entirely to conduct “a full-fledged analysis,” Picher said.
Meanwhile, exhibits in the museum have been shown at the smaller visitor's centre on a rotating basis.
The fort is otherwise completely open with regular solider re-enactments as part of the “unique experience opportunities for our guests,” Picher said.
Visitors are still being charged to enter the cordoned off area.
“We’re still pretty proud of the experiences that we offer (and) most of the main artifacts that we put on display are now in the visitor’s center,” Picher said.
Visitors are charged daily $3.90 for adults, $1.90 for youth and a family or group charge is $9.80.
The visitor’s centre and the rest of the museum grounds can be entered at no charge.
Picher said this matter has nothing to do with recent government funding cutbacks, about which local municipal officials recently expressed concern about the fort’s - and a major Amherstburg tourist attraction’s – hours and seasons of operation.
Picher said the fort will still open year round on an appointment basis for group tours.
“I guess what I would like to remind people is that Fort Malden has always been closed from November on,” he said.
And he said the public can still wander the fort grounds as long a staff is there between 7 am and 5 pm.
“Absolutely,” he said. “The grounds are open definitely during the winter.”