33 Summer Street
Former Summerside Armoury
International Fox Museum
Links and documents
1911/01/01 to 1912/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The stone and brick building at 33 Summer Street was built from 1911 to 1912 by the Government of Canada as an armoury to replace an earlier military Drill Shed that had been located on Spring Street. The two-storey structure features a hipped roof, a symmetrical facade, and rectangular one-over-one windows. The registration includes the building and its lot.
The squarely configured building that was once the Summerside Armoury has heritage value due to its long affiliation with the military history of Prince Edward Island. The structure is also valued for its architectural integrity as an example of the design work of Island architect, C.B. Chappell, and the construction ability of the M.F. Schurman Company. The building maintains these strong historical associations by its continuing presence on the streetscape at the City's administrative heart.
The necessity for an Armoury in Summerside arose after the Drill Shed on Spring Street burned to the ground in the Great Fire of 1906. In 1908, the Dominion government purchased land for a new building but there was considerable consternation by citizens after it was learned that the government planned to build an armoury with no drill hall in connection. A local journalist felt that "an armory without a drill hall is about as valuable as the play of Hamlet would be with Hamlet left out." The government proceeded as planned and the contract was awarded in October 1910 to M.F. Schurman and Company. Excavation for the 38 by 34 foot cellar began in June 1911 and the two-storey structure was completed by the following summer with the formal transfer from the Department of Public Works to the 82nd Regiment taking place on June 22, 1912.
Great Britain and thus Canada entered World War I in August 1914 and members of the newly organized B Squadron of the PEI Light Horse left for Val Cartier, Quebec, en route to England. Recruiting officers used the building for enlisting more men and when the 105th Battalion was created in the spring of 1916, C Company used the grounds, known as Armoury Square, for regular drilling of the recruits. The men constructed trenches complete with dugouts and loopholes and used dummies to practise bayonet fighting. Local women formed a branch of the Patriotic Society for Red Cross Work and began meeting every week at the Armoury to sew and knit articles to be sent to soldiers.
After the war, veterans established a Great War Veterans Association (GWVA) clubroom in the Armoury where rifles, saddles and other military supplies were stored. During the 1930s, C Company of the PEI Highlanders kept uniforms and equipment in the building and held drills in the local curling rink. The building was used during the years of World War II for recruitment purposes, as well as for the headquarters of B Squadron of the 17th (Reserve) Armoured Regiment.
By 1992, the building had reached the end of its life as a military facility. In June of that year, the forty members of B Squadron of the PEI Regiment began to operate out of a building in Slemon Park, the former Canadian Forces Base Summerside. Public Works Canada, acting on behalf of the Department of National Defence, sold the structure to the City of Summerside in 1996. The municipal recreation department had offices in the building until the new City Hall was opened in 2003. The Armoury is still owned by the City and is currently housing the International Fox Museum and Gallery 33.
Source: City of Summerside, Heritage Property Profile
The heritage value of the former armoury is shown in the following character-defining elements:
- the box-like exterior with symmetrical facade and one-over-one rectangular windows
- the two-storey height
- the rusticated stone foundation supporting the brick walls
- the pilastered corners rising to the level of the second floor windows - the double front doors of substantial weight recessed under a centred archway
- the hipped roof accented by a brick parapet centred over the front entrance
- the words "A 1911 D" and "ARMOURY" carved on the parapet
- the vertical iron bars over the basement windows
- the stone beltcourse between the first and second storeys and the stone window sills
- the prominent position of the building in the historical streetscape at the administrative heart of the City of Summerside
Prince Edward Island
City of Summerside
Heritage Conservation Bylaw SS-20
Registered Historic Place (Summerside)
Theme - Category and Type
- Governing Canada
- Military and Defence
Function - Category and Type
- Armoury or Drill Hall
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Summerside, Heritage Property Profiles
Cross-Reference to Collection