Description of Historic Place
The Government of Canada Building is a flat roofed, modern design building located in the St. Catharines Farmers Market and City Hall area. Simple, geometric forms, symmetrical façades, flat materials and minimal detailing characterize the L-shaped structure. On the principal façade smooth stone facing contrasts with black spandrel panels set between the windows. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Government of Canada Building in St. Catharines is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Government of Canada Building in St. Catharines is associated with the expansion of federal government departments and services after World War II, and the construction of modern multi-use facilities to project an image of a modern and progressive federal government. The building was constructed to house the Canadian Postal Service, National Revenue and Canada Customs.
Valued for its good aesthetics, the Government of Canada Building in St. Catharines is a modern design with horizontal emphasis and a geometric composition. The rhythm of the windows, the simple forms, the minimal detailing and use of quality materials in a limited range contributes to the early 1950s design. Designed for the sorting and delivery of mail on the ground floor and general office space in the basement and on the second floor, this functional building demonstrates good craftsmanship and materials as seen on the exterior through the uniform shape and finish of the Indiana Oolithic limestone.
The Government of Canada Building in St. Catharines reinforces the central business district where it is a familiar local landmark.
Sources: Marilyn Armstrong-Reynolds, Government of Canada Building, 32 Church Street, St. Catharines, Ontario, Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 89-044; Government of Canada Building (GOCB), 32 Church Street, St. Catharines, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 98-045.
The following character-defining elements of the Government of Canada Building in St. Catharines should be respected.
Its modern design and very good quality materials and craftsmanship, for example:
- the two-storey, L-shaped, flat roofed massing;
- the placement of windows in vertical bands with large rectangular openings separated by a porcelain enamel spandrel panel, over a black granite base;
- the main entrance features with curve fronted, projecting vestibule under a metal, low relief, coat of arms;
- the eastern entrance with recessed entrance screen under a projecting stone canopy, with figurative sculpture mounted on the limestone wall, framed by a raised moulding;
- the good quality materials used on the exterior such as the Indiana Oolithic limestone whereby a high level of craftsmanship is also demonstrated;
- the sunken panels of the principal elevation containing carved bas-reliefs;
- the interior decorative finishes of the main lobby, stairwells, halls and washrooms finished with terrazzo flooring, polished granite walls, chrome railings, granite and marble, the original lighting fixtures and the marble writing desks.
The manner in which the Government of Canada Building reinforces the commercial centre of St. Catharines and is a city landmark, as evidenced by:
- its scale, and stone and bronze materials that complement the other downtown buildings;
- its visibility and familiarity given its prominent location and ongoing use as federal offices make it a well-known building in the area.