Former Bell Telephone Exchange Building
Ancien Central téléphonique de la Compagnie de Téléphone Bell
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Recruiting Centre, also known as the former Bell Telephone Exchange Building, located on the Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Valcartier, sits on a prominent corner-lot in the mixed 19th-century commercial, residential and institutional character of the city of Quebec’s historic district. The five-bay, three-storey building is constructed of stone in the Italianate style and features round-headed windows, a bracketed cornice and rusticated stonework on the ground floor. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Recruiting Centre is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Recruiting Centre, built as a telephone exchange by the Bell Telephone Company, is closely associated with the early development and rapid expansion of the telephone system. The building originally served the city’s first 25 private subscribers and later housed the switchboard services for the entire city. The design of the building also reflects the evolution of telecommunications technologies and the increasingly important role of women as switchboard operators. The building currently serves as a recruitment centre for CFB Valcartier.
The Recruiting Centre is a good example of Italianate architecture popular for commercial buildings during the 1870s and 1890s. Its simple massing and flat roof are typical of this style and reflect the new metal frame construction technologies. The building displays symmetry and ordered placement of window and door openings on all sides. Originally a two-bay, two-storey building it retained its Italianate style in the 1909 enlargement. The expanded building’s very functional interior displayed progressive ideals in its use of abundant natural light, well-ventilated spaces and provision of facilities for its mainly female employees. Good craftsmanship and materials are evidenced in the masonry.
The Recruiting Centre is compatible with the commercial character of rue St-Jean in the city of Quebec’s historic district and is a familiar landmark in the city.
Sources: André Charbonneau with the assistance of Yvan Fortier, (Histoire et Archéologie, bureau regional de Québec) Logis d’officiers du fort Lennox, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 89-057; CFB Valcartier Recruiting Centre, Saint-Paul-de-L’lle-aux-Noix, Heritage Character Statement 91-040.
The following character-defining elements of the Recruiting Centre should be respected.
The very good Italianate aesthetic and functional design and good quality materials, for example:
- the three storey massing and the symmetrical façade;
- the exterior walls constructed of cut-stone and brick;
- the flat roof and regularly placed round-headed windows of the second and third floors;
- the use of rusticated stonework at the ground floor, the finer ashlar at the second, and the buff brickwork at the third;
- details including the dated inscription cartouches, the ornate keystones above the central window and the string courses between levels;
- the street elevation that includes shop windows and a central entrance;
- the interior configuration.
The manner in which the Recruiting Centre is compatible with the commercial character of St. Jean Street in the city of Quebec’s historic district and is a familiar landmark in the city, as evidenced by:
- its scale, design and materials that maintain a visual and physical relationship between the surrounding buildings and the streetscape;
- its familiarity as a recruitment centre to visitors, passing pedestrians, and local residents.
Government of Canada
Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy
Recognized Federal Heritage Building
1909/01/01 to 1909/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
Function - Category and Type
- Armoury or Drill Hall
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec
Cross-Reference to Collection
Arrondissement historique de Québec
L'arrondissement historique de Québec, décrété en 1963 et agrandi en 1964, est un territoire urbain d'environ 135 hectares. Il est composé de deux secteurs distincts, une partie…