Description of Historic Place
The Guardhouse is located at the foot of the ramparts, adjacent to the Officers’ Quarters, at the main gate to Fort Lennox National Historic Site of Canada. The classic architectural beauty of this long, hipped-roofed structure is distinguished by its ground-floor portico, which is offset by a series of rusticated stone arches. The walls are constructed of cut stone, laid in a very carefully designed arrangement. The windows are symmetrically arranged above the ground-floor arches. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Guardhouse is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and architectural and its environmental values.
The Guardhouse is closely 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 Guardhouse constructed to house the guard picket and prison, contributed to the strategic role of the fortification.
The Guardhouse is valued for its excellent aesthetic design, notable for its balance and strength. The vaulted ground-floor ceiling reflects the defensive role that the building was intended to play. The adaptation of the building to each new function such as a workshop, a storage, a refugee internment camp and a dormitory, is evidence of the flexibility of its very good functional design. The very good craftsmanship of the building is demonstrated in the quality of its construction details and is an indication of the high standards of the period.
The Guardhouse maintains an unchanged relationship to its site. Strategically located within the Fort, the building 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; Guardhouse, Québec, Heritage Character Statement, 90-027.
The character-defining elements of the Guardhouse should be respected.
Its excellent aesthetic design, very good functional design and very good materials and craftsmanship, for example:
-the architectural composition of the building, which consists of a rectangular plan, arcaded portico and hipped roof;
-the regular arrangement of windows above the arcade openings;
-the masonry walls, constructed of cut stone laid in a very carefully designed arrangement which includes quoins, a belt course on the façade, and rustication on the portico and voussoirs;
-the elements which speak to the building’s defensive role such as the compartmentalized layout, thick walls, vaults and arrow slits;
-the elements which speak to the building’s use as a detention facility such as the traces of the old cells, the bell system, and the metal doors of the cells;
-the interior surviving materials and elements of décor, including the three brick fireplaces.
The manner in which the Guardhouse 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 its grounds at the foot of the rampart at the fort’s entrance;
-its strong similarity to, and location next to the Officers’ Quarters, which reinforce the architectural symmetry of the fort;
-its overall scale, design and materials, which complement the surrounding defensive works;
-its visibility and familiarity, given its location at the entrance to the fort, and its interpretation modules, which make it an attraction to visitors.