Description of Historic Place
The Blockhouse at Narrows Lockstation is situated on an open site that overlooks the Rideau Canal. It is a two-storey pyramidal-roofed structure, square in plan, with an overhanging second storey. The lower storey is constructed of thick, stone masonry while the upper storey is built of squared timbers. Defence features include loopholes and the second-floor entrance accessed by an exterior stairway. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Blockhouse at Narrows Lockstation is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Blockhouse is associated with the defence of British North America. The building was constructed during the period in which the Rideau Canal fulfilled a defence role for the United Canadas, and the blockhouse building type was an essential element in the defence strategy for the canal, which included a major defensible building at each locksite. The Blockhouse is one of only four completed on the Rideau Canal and is a rare surviving example of a blockhouse with a stone masonry lower storey.
Valued for its good aesthetics, as seen in its functional, 19th-century defensive military appearance, the Blockhouse followed the general pattern established for blockhouses. It is one of only four blockhouses completed on the canal and is one of the few surviving examples in Canada with a stone masonry lower storey. Very good functional design is seen in the interior layout and defensive features that include loopholes and an overhanging second floor, although it deviated from the original designs by Colonel By. Good craftsmanship is evidenced in the masonry and roof-framing.
The Blockhouse reinforces the historic military character of the setting and is a familiar local landmark.
Sources: James De Jonge, Fifteen buildings, Southern Area, Rideau Canal, Ontario, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Building Reports 89-155, 89-156, 89-157, 89-158,89-159, and 89-160; Blockhouse, Narrows Lockstation, Rideau Canal, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 89-160.
The character-defining elements of the Blockhouse at Narrows Lockstation should be respected.
Its good aesthetics, functional design and quality materials and craftsmanship, for example:
- the square, two-storey massing with pyramidal roof;
- the ground floor of stone masonry and the timber framed upper storey of squared timber;
- the defence-related elements such as the loopholes and the second floor overhang;
- the interior configuration, and the second floor entrance accessed by an exterior stairway, and the floor beams and the kingpost.
The manner in which the Blockhouse at Narrows Lockstation reinforces the historic military character of its lockstation setting and acts as a local landmark as evidenced by:
- its simple design and materials that harmonize with its historic Rideau Canal setting;
- its size and profile on a spit of land between Upper Rideau and Big Rideau lakes that make it a prominent feature of the lockstation.