Description of Historic Place
Nestled in a stand of mature trees, high on a bluff overlooking the broad sweep of the Ottawa River, the Rockcliffe Pavilion complements both the natural elements and the more urban features of its surroundings. The two-storey structure combines simple, classically-inspired and picturesque features and proportions, with pre-cast and cast-in-place concrete. Its classically-inspired columns support a generous wooden canopy roof, raised lantern with wood brackets and concrete chimney. There are three flights of steps leading to the main level. The designation is confined to the footprint of the structure.
The Rockcliffe Pavilion is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.
The Rockcliffe Pavilion, constructed in 1917, is associated with the Ottawa Improvement Commission’s efforts to create a National Capital of which Canadians could be proud. Located in Rockcliffe Park, which was established in 1890 at the edge of the city, it constitutes a reminder of the impact of the park movement on Canadian communities in the early 20th century.
The Rockcliffe Pavilion is valued for its excellent aesthetic qualities. It is an innovative interpretation of an ancient garden building type that was revived by 18th-century European landscape designers. Like other pavilions in parks and gardens across Canada, it was designed as both a visually appealing artefact within a natural landscape and as a shelter from the elements. Its design combines the simple, classically-inspired and picturesque features and proportions of its forerunners, which were constructed in wood. Built with precast and cast-in-place concrete, supporting a wooden canopy roof, the pavilion is also valued for its excellent craftsmanship and innovative use of comparatively new and more permanent materials. Its good condition and continued use for the purpose for which it was designed, testify to the quality of its construction.
The Rockcliffe Pavilion reinforces the dramatic character of its park setting in Rockcliffe Park. As a prominent landscape element within the park, the pavilion is a local landmark for visitors to the park and the Rockcliffe Parkway.
Sources: Leslie Maitland, Rockcliffe Pavilion, Rockcliffe Park, Ottawa, Ontario, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Building Report, 94-019; Rockcliffe Pavilion, Rockcliffe Park, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 94-019.
The following character-defining elements of the Rockcliffe Pavilion should be respected.
Its role as a testimony to the influence of the park movement of the early 20th century on Canada’s National Capital:
-its ongoing function, since its construction in 1917, as both a visually attractive element and a shelter within the landscape of Rockcliffe Park, and thus as a park amenity that contributes to a National Capital of which Canadians can be proud;
Its high-quality but functional design and construction and its demonstration of the visual and structural potential of concrete:
-its picturesque wooden canopy roof and raised lantern, with wood brackets and concrete chimneys, supported by classically-inspired concrete columns, including four at the interior and 40 at the perimeter;
-the main level, designed and still used for performances and other activities, with its handsome concrete balustrades and three entries with concrete steps and railings;
-the enclosed basement, designed and still used for support functions, such as washrooms or storage space;
-the innovative use of cast-in-place and pre-cast concrete with exposed aggregate for elements traditionally made of wood, exploiting the qualities of this comparatively new material: its rustic surface texture, its ability to be moulded in different shapes, its strength, and its durability;
Its reinforcement of its context:
-its prominent position and its spatial relationship with the Lookout and its natural and more urban surroundings, which combine to make it a recognizable and integral component of both Rockcliffe Park and the National Capital region.