Description of Historic Place
The Ottawa Hydro Generating Station No. 2 is an industrial structure, which consists of three distinct sections, each of which houses specific functions and equipment: the long, rectangular, limestone generator hall; the penstock which is a low, concrete platform abutting the south wall of the generator hall and houses the turbines; and, the red and buff-coloured brick wing located at the southwest corner of the building. Ottawa Hydro Generating Station No. 2 underwent a major structural and mechanical refitting in 1908-1909, and contains some of the oldest operational hydro-electric equipment in Canada. Part of a mixed industrial complex, the station is located on Amelia Island, which is part of the islands, water channels and falls known collectively as the Chaudière. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Ottawa Hydro Generating Station No. 2 is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Ottawa Hydro Generating Station No. 2 is associated with several significant aspects of the evolution of hydro electric power in Canada. As the oldest extant purpose-built hydro-electric facility still in operation in the country, the Station is one of the best examples of the national historic theme of the pioneer phase of hydro electric generation in Canada. The major mechanical refitting of the Station in 1908 09 with the era’s hallmark electrical generating components, also makes the plant a noteworthy example of the second, or core period of hydro electric development in Canada.
The Ottawa Hydro Generating Station No. 2 is also directly associated with two important phases of E.H. Bronson's power utilities empire. Station No. 2 was the first purpose built power generating station constructed by Bronson and illustrates the diversification of the family’s lumber-based wealth, as well as the closing years of Bronson’s career when he attempted to create a private utilities monopoly. Finally, the Station is one of the best examples of the industrial diversification of the Chaudière in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when the area moved away from its traditional dependence on the lumber industry and became a major centre both for the generation of electricity and for the production of pulp and paper.
The Ottawa Hydro Generating Station No. 2 is an excellent example of a small hydro-electric power plant dating from the core period. The functional layout of the building’s three principal components, namely the generator hall, the penstock housing for the turbines and the brick wing which houses the transformers, as well as the integral nature of the associated generating equipment, all demonstrate the exceptional quality of the Station’s functional design. Constructed of the highest quality materials and craftsmanship, Station No. 2 also contains some of the oldest, operational hydro-electric equipment in Canada, as well as equipment from later phases of development in hydro-electric technology.
The Ottawa Hydro Generating Station No. 2 reinforces the character of the industrial precinct on Victoria and Amelia Islands, by virtue of its function, massing and materials. The Station has some local landmark value owing to its location in a well-trafficked area adjacent to the Ottawa River Parkway.
Sources: Edgar Tumak, Ottawa Hydro Generating Station No.2, Amelia Island, Ottawa, Ontario. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 91-179; Ottawa Hydro Generating Station No.2, Amelia Island, Ottawa, Ontario. Heritage Character Statement 91-179.
The following character-defining elements of the Ottawa Hydro Generating Station No. 2 should be respected.
Its functional design and high quality materials and craftsmanship as manifested in:
-the complex and additive nature of the building’s massing, which consists of its principal components, namely the generator hall, the penstock housing for the turbines, and the brick transformer wing, and is a record of the Station’s built industrial history;
-the functional layout of the Station’s principal components, their relationship to each other, and the integral nature of the associated generating equipment;
-the design and construction of the generator hall which was built in the tradition of 19th-century stone mills of central Canada and features a long rectangular form, regular vertical and horizontal wall openings, and a combination of rubble masonry with more finely detailed work at the segmental-arch window heads and door surrounds;
-the generator hall’s design features which allow it to control heat build-up caused by the electrical generation process without the use of artificial cooling systems, including the room’s position two-thirds below ground, its heavy masonry (limestone) and concrete construction, its height, its large, north-facing, clerestory windows, and its location adjacent to the water-filled penstock;
-the simpler construction of the concrete penstock and the brick transformer wing;
-the extant equipment such as the turbines or small two-runner Francis-type horizontal shaft reaction units supported on pillow block bearings, which represent an early phase in the technological evolution of hydro-electric equipment; and,
-the equipment dating from a later phases of development in hydro-electric technology such as the three power conversion units and associated equipment.
The manner in which the Ottawa Hydro Generating Station No. 2 reinforces the industrial character of the Chaudière area and its local landmark status, as evidenced in
-its massing and choice of construction materials which are similar to those of the surrounding industrial buildings on Victoria Island and Amelia Island, and also reflect the phases of the building’s evolution;
-its location in a well-trafficked area adjacent to the Ottawa River Parkway.