Description of Historic Place
The Barrack at the Fort Lennox National Historic Site of Canada is the dominant and the largest structure along the west side of the parade ground. Locally known as ‘The Big Barracks’, the imposing scale of the stone façade is emphasized by its frontispiece, which is surmounted by a pediment. Other distinctive features are the symmetrical composition, the regular spacing of openings, the hipped roof with five chimneystacks, the loopholes, and the imposing exterior stairway on the rear wall. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Barrack is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Barrack is associated with the theme of the defence of Upper and Lower Canada. After the War of 1812-1814, senior British commanders had to revise their defensive strategy to deal with the risk of invasion via Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River from the United States. They decided to build a fortification at Île-aux-Noix rather than at Saint-Jean because of its clear advantages in the event of a naval assault. As such, the Barracks contributed to the strategic role of the fortification.
The Barrack demonstrates an excellent aesthetic design influenced by Palladian architecture in Canada in the early 19th century. While military barracks were usually designed as simple utilitarian structures, this building’s formal design possesses a grander character. Its interior layout, which was intended to accommodate as many soldiers as possible, is a basic and very good functional design. The building’s excellent craftsmanship is demonstrated in its well-crafted, regular coursed masonry walls with rusticated quoins. The longevity of the barracks and the good condition of the materials used are evidence of its high quality construction.
The Barrack building maintains an unchanged relationship to its site. The building is the dominant structure along the west side of the parade ground and reinforces the military character of its historic fort setting. The building is well known to visitors and staff of Fort Lennox National Historic Site of Canada.
Sources: Gisèle Piédalue avec la collaboration d’André Charbonneau, Yvan Fortier et de Paul Trépanier, Corps de garde et caserne du fort Lennox, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Building Report, 90-027; Barracks, Fort Lennox, Québec, Heritage Character Statement, 90-027.
The character-defining elements of the Barrack should be respected.
Its excellent aesthetic design, very good functional design and excellent materials and craftsmanship, for example:
-the large scale, rectangular massing and symmetrical composition, topped by a hipped roof with five chimneys;
-the imposing scale of the façade with its frontispiece surmounted by a pediment with oculus which reflects a Palladian influence;
-the regular spacing of openings, the loopholes in the side and rear walls, and the imposing exterior stairway on the rear wall;
-the interior compartmentalization, thick walls, and vaults;
-the well-crafted, regularly coursed, masonry walls with rusticated quoins and the wooden and brick elements in the structural design;
-the windows with multiple small panes;
-the interior elements, including the five fireplaces, the metal doors and door hardware, and the rings fastened to the ceiling.
The manner in which the Barrack maintains an unchanged relationship to its site, reinforces the military character of its historic fort setting and is a well known building at Fort Lennox, as evidenced by:
-its ongoing relationship to the parade ground and the defensive works;
-its overall large scale, design and materials that harmonize with, and maintains an ongoing relationship to the other buildings within the fort;
-its highly visible, imposing scale and dominance along the west side of the parade ground;
-its local recognition as 'the Big Barracks' and its role as a museum, all of which make it a well-known building to its many visitors and to the staff of the Fort Lennox National Historic Site of Canada.