Description of Historic Place
The Range Finder Bunker, part of Spion Kop at York Redoubt National Historic Site of Canada, is a reinforced concrete structure with a projecting eastern wing, chimney, and a sloping, corrugated metal roof with an open viewing slot. The building consists of two areas. One area houses a raised concrete platform and pedestal, which once supported the range finder, and the other area is a simple room of standard design. The Range Finder Bunker is part of Spion Kop, a pre-First World War fire command post constructed on a hillside approximately 350 meters southeast of the main York Redoubt, in an area that is now obscured by dense forest cover. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Range Finder Bunker is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Range Finder Bunker is associated with the national historic theme of the coastal defense of Canada. Built as part of the pre-First World War centralized fire command post for the Halifax coastal artillery called “Spion Kop,” the Range Finder Bunker contained the main range finder cell used by the Fire Commander. Spion Kop and the Range Finder Bunker were constructed as part of the final modernization of the coastal defense system, during the final phase of the British presence in Halifax.
The Range Finder Bunker is a good example of utilitarian, military architecture. The building’s massing, functional layout and features including the open viewing slot and the raised concrete platform and pedestal that once supported the position finder, reflect the primary functions of the Range Finder Bunker. Constructed of good quality materials and craftsmanship, the simple, unadorned exterior treatment of the building is consistent with the utilitarian nature of the building as well as the surrounding buildings at Spion Kop.
The Range Finder Bunker reinforces the military character of Spion Kop, a pre-First World War centralized fire command post for the Halifax coastal artillery, located on a hillside several hundred yards southeast of the main York Redoubt. The Range Finder Bunker is part of an “L”-shaped cluster of three similar utilitarian buildings, which make up the central core of Spion Kop, and includes the Stores Building and the Command Post and Barracks Building. Obscured from view by dense forest cover, the building is located in a small, isolated clearing at the southern end of an overgrown pathway that leads from the former Guard House, and is familiar to visitors and staff at the site.
Source: Range Finder/Bunker, Heritage Character Statement, 95-001.
The character-defining elements of the Range Finder Bunker should be respected.
Its simple, utilitarian design, competent craftsmanship and good quality materials as manifested in:
- the massing of the building which consists of two, low rectilinear volumes, one of which projects to the east to form an “L”-shaped plan, as well as a slightly sloped roof;
- the features which speak to its former use as a range finder including the open viewing slot in the roof and the raised concrete platform and pedestal that once supported the Fire Commander’s range finder;
- the simple, functional layout of the two interior spaces;
- the use of strong, durable materials such as reinforced concrete and the lack of exterior ornamentation.
The manner in which the Range Finder and Bunker reinforces the military character of the setting as, evidenced in:
- its scale, massing and materials which are in keeping with the remaining structures at Spion Kop, in particular the Stores Building and the Command Post and Barracks Building with which it forms a small “L”-shaped cluster;
- its location on a hillside at the central core of Spion Kop and in relative proximity to the main York Redoubt.