Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Wilson Chambers National Historic Site of Canada, is located on a corner lot in downtown Montréal, is a Gothic Revival style commercial building with Italianate and Second Empire influences. It is distinguished by its four-and-a-half-storey stone massing, its numerous pointed arch window openings, smooth expanses of glass, and mansard roof. Official recognition refers to the building on its legal property at the time of designation.
Wilson Chambers was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1990 because it is:
- a rare surviving example of a commercial building in the Gothic Revival Style.
Popular in the latter half of the nineteenth century, the High Victorian phase of the Gothic Revival style arrived in Canada in the years just prior to Confederation and coincided with a period during which many prominent religious, civic, and scholastic institutions were constructed. While numerous churches and institutional buildings were erected in this style, Gothic Revival commercial buildings were a rarity.
Designed by architect R.C. Windeyer and built in 1868, Wilson Chambers is one of the few remaining examples of a commercial building designed in the Gothic Revivial style. An example from the High Victorian phase of the Gothic Revival style, its defining features include its strong vertical lines and use of contrasting stone, as well as its numerous pointed arch window openings. The building’s eclectic design also integrates features from other architectural styles, such as the round-headed Italianate-style window openings, the Second Empire-style mansard roof, and the classical entablature. Wilson Chambers was extensively renovated in the latter half of the 1990s in a manner that was sympathetic to its original design.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1990.
Key features contributing to the heritage value of this site include:
- its location on a corner lot in downtown Montreal;
- the substantial massing of this rectangular corner building lightened by its careful composition and scale, and the receding slope of its mansard roof;
- the balanced scale of the vertical façades with each succeeding storey more shallow than the one below, set high on a foundation that is equal in height to the slope of the mansard roof;
- the use of structural features to underline the composition of the building as a series of horizontal layers, such as protruding stone curbs between individual storeys, strong entablature and cornice at the roof edge, and a heavy entablature as a surround on the high roof line;
- the regularity of the composition of the façade with vertically aligned windows, that are set in strongly defined horizontal lines created by the repetition of a different window form on each storey;
- the inclusion of gable-roofed dormer windows with ornamental pediments and a submerged chimney form to give detail to the roof;
- the eclectic combination of features from a range of architectural styles, including the Gothic Revival pointed arch window openings, Italianate round-headed window openings, classical entablature, and Second Empire mansard roof;
- the skillful use of contrasting stone, as seen in the smooth block walls and shaped feature details, pressed metal, seen in the smooth shingles and shaped roof and entablature details, and smooth expanses of glass giving the building a polychromatic texture;
- any surviving original interior features and finishes.
Government of Canada
Historic Sites and Monuments Act
National Historic Site of Canada
Theme - Category and Type
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Québec
Cross-Reference to Collection