Description of Historic Place
The Ottawa New Edinburgh Club Boathouse is a large, wooden two-and-a-half-storey building clad in cove siding. Rising from a rectangular footprint, the boathouse features complex massing, window views and balconies. The hipped-gable roof features dormer windows and a central cross gable over an entrance pavilion. Situated near Rockcliffe Point in a natural harbour, the boathouse stands on pylons in the Ottawa River near the south shore. A pedestrian bridge extends from the shore to the boathouse door. Trees on the riverbank screen the boathouse from the Rockcliffe Driveway. The designation is limited to the building footprint.
The Ottawa New Edinburgh Club Boathouse is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building due to its historical, architectural and environmental values.
The Ottawa New Edinburgh Club (ONEC) Boathouse illustrates late 19th century middle-class summer recreation, and the evolution of competitive and leisure canoeing in Canada and abroad. The Boathouse contributed to the popularity of canoeing in Canada between 1900 and 1950, and is associated with the ONEC, influential in the area for over a century. On Ottawa’s northeast boundary in 1914, Rockcliffe Park was one of several city parks leased to the Ottawa Improvement Commission (OIC) in 1904, a result of F. Todd’s 1903 recommendation for a park and driveway system to support Ottawa’s national capital status. An example of a private recreational organization on OIC land in Rockcliffe Park, the Boathouse was built during the OIC’s last major initiative in national capital planning and is one of few remaining buildings from this “beautification” phase of local development.
The ONEC Boathouse is a simple utilitarian building period boathouse design, its form reflecting its function. It has a simple, rectangular footprint, and relatively complex massing. Its large scale accommodates social, boating, and land-sports requirements. The design and evolution respond directly to site, role and setting, while the wood construction reflects its seasonal use. The ONEC boathouse was less ornate and representative of popular architectural styles than other period boathouse examples. It has very good functional design, large, open interior spaces, and balconies and decks providing extensive river views. The building stands on a (then) innovative supporting steel frame and concrete piers sunk in the riverbed and the exterior exhibits good quality craftsmanship. Ottawa architect C. Powell Meredith designed the Boathouse which reflects his personal and professional connections through the OIC.
Located in the Ottawa River near the south shore, adjacent to Rockcliffe Park, the Boathouse is screened by trees from Rockcliffe Driveway. A gate arch and footbridge lead to the boathouse which has two settings: the land side, and the river side. The river side, with escarpment and vegetation, is considered more important and the boathouse reinforces its character. Boathouse views extend over the river to the Quebec shore. Well known in the neighborhood, the Boathouse hosts community events and is a landmark from the river, from the Quebec side, and to boat traffic. The immediate area has had few changes except for the bridge replacement. Its relationship with the site’s natural area, defined as the 3.26 hectare waterlot extension, has generally been retained. The boathouse reinforces the surrounding area’s recreational character on both land and waterside.
The character-defining elements of the Ottawa New Edinburgh Club Boathouse that should be respected include:
the early 20th century boathouse design with characteristic features reflecting function and type, its innovative engineering solution of steel frame and concrete piers allowing it to stand in the water, and its continuous use as a boathouse.
the large rectangular footprint, complex two-and-a-half-storey massing, irregular gable-roof forms, including the high east-west hipped gable roof, the secondary gable rising to an open peak at the vertical wall edge on the north side, the centred, transverse north-south gable bisecting the main roof to form a south-facing entrance pavilion, the pairs of flat-roofed dormers facing north and south, and the functional additions and modifications illustrating the building’s organic evolution, including the covered second-storey porch, cantilevered balconies; the wood construction of the upper portion of the building including the exterior wooden cladding, wooden doors, decks and railings;
the functional plan with open interior public spaces, recreational areas, and club facilities including those for equipment repair, changing rooms, locker and storage areas, the river-views from the interior, balconies and decks;
exterior spatial organization including the water level allocated to marine access;
its location in the Ottawa River north of the Rockcliffe Driveway and its ongoing relationship with the site’s natural elements, such as the setting on the water in a natural harbour attached to land by a single bridge;