Description of Historic Place
The Casemates building is situated within the embankment of the central mound at Fort McNab National Historic Site of Canada. It is a long, low, one-storey, concrete structure composed of seven vaulted bays. Four of the bays retain the original arrangement of a central door with a transom, flanking windows, and a round-headed, recessed concrete panel. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Casemates building is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Casemates building, an integral part of Fort McNab, is closely associated with the defence of Canada between 1888 and 1960. Fort McNab was established as a key component of the fortifications defending Halifax harbour and the Imperial naval station. It remained in active use until after the Second World War. It was constructed to accommodate non-commissioned officers’ quarters, men’s barracks, a boiler house and coal store, a canteen, a cookhouse and an ablution room. It was used briefly as artillery stores in 1902, and in 1919 it was converted to an electrical power generating plant.
The Casemates building is a good example of a specialized coastal defence support structure. It is typical of casemate design by the Royal Engineers to satisfy specific functional requirements within a restricted space. Its defensive characteristics are exemplified by its low profile, partial underground construction, and other protective features.
The Casemates building reinforces the present military character of the setting and is compatible with the other structures in the fort. While it is only partially visible, it is a familiar fort feature to visitors.
Sources: Ian Doull, Fort McNab, Halifax Defence Complex, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 96-096; Casemates, Fort McNab, Halifax Defence Complex, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Heritage Character Statement 96-096.
The character-defining elements of the Casemates building should be respected.
Its functional defensive design, its good quality materials and craftsmanship, such as:
- the multiple-bay construction of contiguous casemates and the arrangement of openings in each bay, comprising a central door with transom and flanking windows;
- the concrete construction and vaulted interior;
- its location within the embankment of the central earth mound, visible only from the front elevation.
The manner in which the Casemates building reinforces the present military character of the Fort McNab National Historic Site of Canada and is a familiar landmark, as evidenced by:
- the specialized design and materials that maintain a visual and physical relationship between the central mound and the interior of the fort complex;
- while partially invisible, the casemates are an integral part of the fort and consequently well known to visitors to the national historic site of Canada.