Description of Historic Place
Facing a large open space, the ‘O’ Block of the Wolseley Barracks National Historic Site of Canada is situated within Canadian Forces Base London. The simple, clean design of this gable-roofed structure is based on a stripped-down classical prototype. Its main feature is a large troop door set under a tall, round-headed window. Unadorned pilasters demarcate the bays and unframed, high-set windows light the drill hall interior. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
‘O’ Block is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
‘O’ Block is associated with the development of the professional army in Canada, and with the establishment of the newly-formed Canadian Tank School, the first full-time user of the facility, beginning instruction in 1936. It is also associated with the Public Works Construction Act, a federal government initiative designed to stimulate the Canadian economy with construction projects during the Depression. ‘O’ Block, as part of Wolseley Barracks, is used as the headquarters of the Royal Canadian Regiment which is now Canada’s senior regular force infantry regiment.
‘O’ Block demonstrates good aesthetic qualities as seen in an inter-war drill hall. The building exhibits good functional design, the interior being divided into two working areas; the front two-thirds forms the open drill space, while two floors of offices and classrooms occupy the rest. Good craftsmanship is expressed in the brickwork with contrasting windowsills that complement the nearby Wolseley Hall.
‘O’ Block reinforces the present military character of the Wolseley Barracks and is a familiar landmark on the base.
Sources: Joan Mattie, Blocks T, S, O and P, Wolseley Barracks CFB London, London, Ontario, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 91-128; Wolseley Barracks, A Block, Canadian Forces Base London, London, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 89-039.
The character-defining elements of ‘O’ Block should be respected.
Its good aesthetic and good functional design with good quality materials and craftsmanship as evidenced in:
- the rectangular massing, symmetry, and proportions of the gable-roofed structure with narrow eaves;
- the main façade’s large, double door troop entrance set under a large round-headed window that extends up into the gable;
- the buff-coloured brick of the exterior walls, the buttress-like piers on all elevations, and the stone coping under the windows;
- the tall, regularly placed, high-set windows that are repeated within bays along the sides of the building;
- the functional, internal arrangement of the unobstructed drill hall that occupies approximately two thirds of the ground floor area, the balcony, partly supported on columns, located on the end wall opposite the main entrance, and the smaller subsidiary rooms on two floors that is reflected in the window arrangement.
The manner in which the ‘O’ Block reinforces the character of its military setting, and is a familiar landmark on the base, as evidenced by:
- the structure’s design and materials which harmonize with the adjacent garage and Wolseley Hall and reinforce the military character of the setting;
- the structure’s specialized military role and its visibility, given its location on the base periphery.