Fort Conger Buildings, Dedrick's Hut
Bâtiments de Fort Conger, Hutte Dedrick
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Isolated in the rugged landscape of the northern region of Ellesmere Island, the Fort Conger Buildings are a cluster of three, small wood-frame huts arranged in an L-shaped pattern. They are partially below grade and are connected by tunnels running through their foundations. All of the huts are clad with boards and have flat-roofs that slope away from the center of the cluster. The use of earth, sod and/or snow on the roofs and moulded against the walls create additional layers of insulation. The Henson hut is the most complete structure, retaining all of its outer cladding. The Dedrick hut, at the center of the group, has lost most of its exterior cladding, whereas the Inuit hut has lost its roof, its west wall, and much of its outer cladding. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Fort Conger buildings were designated Classified because they are rare surviving examples of buildings associated with north polar exploration at the turn of the century, in particular, with Peary's attempts to reach the North Pole. While Peary’s 1901-02 attempt to reach the Pole did not succeed, he is often credited with reaching it in 1909, at which time the Fort Conger buildings served as an ancillary base for the expedition.
The buildings are also designated for their representation of the functional adaptation of structures to the High Arctic climate. The Fort Conger site on Lady Franklin Bay was the most northerly base camp used in the early explorations of the North Pole region. Peary combined Western materials and technology with Inuit design principles to create rudimentary, but well-insulated, structures which have survived reasonably intact for nearly a century. This fusion of ideas produced a marked improvement in the environmental adaptation of the structures over those constructed by earlier expeditions.
Although the site was also used by subsequent American, Danish and British expeditions, its turn-of-the-century character remains intact. The cluster of historic wooden structures and associated archaeological remains in the rugged isolated setting of northern Ellesmere Island remain a regional landmark.
Key elements that define the heritage character of the three huts at Fort Conger include:
- the site's status as a landmark in a sparsely-populated environment;
- the small scale of the structures, the use of earth, sod, and/or snow on the roof and against the walls to create additional layers of insulation;
- the partially below-grade construction employing tunnel entrances to limit the penetration of outside air;
- the close clustering of buildings to facilitate their interconnection by tunnels, reflecting Inuit design principles;
- building materials salvaged from precarious structures (wood studs, tar paper, boards, cast-iron stoves) and the use of wood frame construction and inter-wall insulation, which represent Western building technology.
Government of Canada
Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy
Classified Federal Heritage Building
Theme - Category and Type
Function - Category and Type
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec
Cross-Reference to Collection