Description of Historic Place
The Revenue Canada Building is an impressive, three-storey, stone-clad building prominently located on a corner site in Thunder Bay. It is designed in the Beaux-Arts Classical style and it is distinguished by its compact, temple-like form and rich, classically-inspired decoration. This includes, two-storey paired pilasters that separate two-storey arch-topped windows, rusticated corner pilasters, a massive entablature and a central pedimented entryway. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Revenue Canada Building is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.
The Revenue Canada Building is associated with the federal government’s expansion of services into smaller communities, and with its provision of well designed, up-to-date facilities. The former city of Fort William, which is now Thunder Bay, was once one of the world’s largest grain-handling ports and a major trade and transportation point and railway terminal. The construction of the building reflects the unprecedented prosperity and optimism of the early 20th century as well as the expansion of east-west trade and the economic importance of customs activities.
The Revenue Canada Building is a very good example of Beaux-Arts Classicism. This style was commonly used by the Department of Public Works for public institutions in the early 20th century. The building is characterized by its monumental massing, symmetrical composition and its strong horizontal division of base, body, and cornice that is typical of the Beaux-Arts style. The building’s good craftsmanship and materials are demonstrated in its use of pale limestone veneer and granite accents on the two principal elevations and in the masonry details.
The Revenue Canada Building reinforces the character of its mixed residential/ commercial setting in the city of Thunder Bay. The building is a familiar landmark within the city.
Revenue Canada Building, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Building Report, 89-149; Revenue Canada Building, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 89-149.
The character-defining elements of the Revenue Canada Building should be respected.
Its very good Beaux-Arts Classical design, good functional design and quality craftsmanship and materials, for example:
-the monumental massing, which consists of a compact, three-storey stone-clad volume on a rectangular plan;
-the steel-and-concrete structural system;
-the strong horizontal division of base, body, and cornice that is typical of the Beaux-Arts style;
-the use of pale limestone veneer and granite accents on the two principal elevations;
-the classically-inspired features such as the two-storey paired pilasters separating two-storey arch-topped windows, rusticated corner pilasters, a massive entablature, and a central pedimented entryway within a shallow rontispiece;
-the interior layout, original finishes and the iron staircase with marble steps.
The manner in which the Revenue Canada Building reinforces the character of its mixed residential/ commercial setting and is a well-known landmark in the city, as evidenced by:
-its monumentality, Beaux-Arts style and materials which contribute to it’s the character of its setting at the edge of a residential area and commercial sector of the city;
-its visibility and familiarity to residents and visitors to Thunder Bay, due to its scale, style and prominent corner site location in the city.