Description of Historic Place
The Armoury, also known as the Black Watch Armoury, sits prominently in its urban streetscape in Montréal. It is a two-storey, brick drill hall with a stone-clad façade that conjures up the image of a castle through the incorporation of crenelated turrets, iron chains and a low, wide arched entrance, reminiscent of a gate. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Armoury is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Armoury is closely associated with the reform and expansion of the Canadian militia. It is an important relic of the history of military architecture in Canada. Its construction was prompted by the reform of the militia undertaken in the 1890s by Frederick Borden, Minister of the Militia and Defence, which was continued after 1911 by his successor, Sir Sam Hughes. Created in 1862 under the name “5th Battalion, Volunteer Militia Rifles of Canada”, the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada is one of the oldest volunteer militia regiments in Canada. Its main victories are South Africa (1899-1900), Vimy Ridge, the Pursuit to Mons, France and Flanders (1915-1918), and the Rhineland and Northwestern Europe (1944-1945).
The Armoury is valued for its good aesthetic and very good functional design. The façade, clad in grey Montréal limestone, was designed in the Gothic Revival style. The building’s compact plan expresses the program developed by the federal government for buildings of this type at the turn of the century. The large, unobstructed interior spaces with exposed two-hinged steel trusses accommodate drill, teaching and recreational facilities, elements considered innovative at its time of construction. High quality craftsmanship is evident throughout.
The Armoury is compatible with the present character of its streetscape setting in Montréal. It is a familiar building in the area.
Sources: Jacqueline Hucker, Black Watch Armoury, Montréal, Québec, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Building Report, 93-018; Black Watch Armoury, Montréal, Québec, Heritage Character Statement, 93-018.
The character-defining elements of the Armoury should be respected.
Its standard plan, very good functional design and good craftsmanship and materials, for example:
- the compact plan, which comprises two two-storey blocks and a large drill hall with a pitched roof;
- the masonry work, including the use of contrasting rough and smooth faced limestone blocks;
- the large wooden troop entrance, or portal, surmounted by a small-paned transom and the Gothic Revival treatment of the façade, including the symmetrically placed openings and decorative elements such as the crenelated turrets, iron chains, and the pilasters framing the portal;
- the architectural details such as the regimental coat of arms, the mullions, and the stone bands in relief;
- the access ramp, the clear and functional lines of the painted masonry walls and the utilitarian floors, which are representative of military interiors at the turn of the century and the interior elements such as the mantelpiece and built-in wooden cabinets, as well as the significant surviving décor and finishes;
- the large, open volume of the drill hall with exposed steel trusses.
The manner in which the Armoury is compatible with the present character of its streetscape setting in Montréal and is a familiar building in the area, as evidenced by:
- its scale, high standards of construction and materials, all of which contribute to and are in keeping with its urban streetscape surroundings;
- its high visibility due to its scale, and prominent corner lot location which makes it a familiar building in the urban area.