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Royal Military College, Old Gymnasium

Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1989/10/12

General view of one of the Old Gymnasium façades, 1988.; Department of National Defence / Ministère de la Défense nationale, KNC, 1988.
General view
Corner view of the Old Gymnasium, 1988.; Department of National Defence / Ministère de la Défense nationale, KNC, 1988.
Corner view
No Image

Other Name(s)

Royal Military College, Old Gymnasium
Building No. 25
Bâtiment no 25

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/08/18

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Old Gymnasium, also known as Building No. 25, faces the athletic field along the east side of the historic parade square precinct at the Royal Military College (RMC) campus in Kingston. The long, gable-roofed brick building has large windows and classical details in wood and limestone. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Old Gymnasium is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.

Historical Value
The Old Gymnasium is closely associated with the development of Kingston’s Royal Military College, and more particularly with the development of physical training and exhibition as an integral part of Canadian military education. The aim of the college was to produce a “scientific class of officers fit for senior militia appointments”, through the combination of a rigid academic schedule with a highly disciplined athletic program. The construction of the gymnasium marked an important step in this development.

Architectural Value
The Old Gymnasium is valued for its very good aesthetic design, which draws on classical symmetry, balance, and simplicity, all of which are characteristic of military architecture. The very good functional design of the structural system follows functional guidelines for buildings of this type, and creates an interior, column-free space that provides the appropriate levels of natural light with its large, regularly spaced windows.

Environmental Value
The Old Gymnasium is located along the east side of the quad at the campus and maintains an unchanged relationship to its site. The building reinforces the character of its parade square precinct setting and is familiar to those who live and work at, or frequent the campus.

Sources:Joan Mattie, former Riding School, Buildings #3, #5, and #36, Royal Military College, Kingston, Ontario, Federal Heritage Building Review Office Building Report 93-99; Former Riding School, Riding Instruction Building, Building #3, Royal Military College, Kingston, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 93-99.

Character-Defining Elements

The following character-defining elements of the Old Gymnasium should be respected.

Its very good aesthetic and functional design, and good craftsmanship and materials,
for example:
-the rectangular massing of the large gable-roofed structure;
-the standing seam metal roof with three symmetrically disposed gables on each principle façade;
-the exterior which is composed of a limestone base and a red brick superstructure with
limestone decorative elements;
-the structural system that consists of wide-span, wood-and-cast-iron-modified king-post
trusses to create a column-free space;
-the large, regularly spaced windows;
-the interior layout, materials and finish.

The manner in which the Old Gymnasium maintains an unchanged relationship to its site, reinforces the parade square precinct setting, and is a familiar building, as evidenced by:
-its ongoing relationship to its surrounding open, flat space, facing the athletic fields and backing onto the St. Lawrence Pier;
-its simple massing and detailing that provides a consistent vocabulary with the earlier Stone Frigate dormitory and the other adjacent buildings which together define the character of the parade square precinct;
-its visibility, given its prominent location and large scale;
-its familiarity as part of a grouping of historic buildings, and as a venue for ceremonial and public events.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy

Recognition Type

Recognized Federal Heritage Building

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type



Armoury or Drill Hall

Architect / Designer

Plans prepared by Department of Public Works



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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