Description of Historic Place
Blockhouse 1 is located at the Fort George National Historic Site of Canada, which overlooks the Niagara River, on the outskirts of Niagara-on-the-Lake. The Blockhouse is a two-storey, squared log structure with an overhanging second storey, and a hipped roof clad in cedar shakes. Small windows and loopholes give a military appearance to the structure. The exterior is clad in clapboard. Within the fort palisades is a large grassed area, with paved walkways. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Blockhouse 1 is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
Blockhouse 1 is associated with a period of accelerated national historic site development during the Great Depression, as a result of government funded relief work programs. The philosophy of historic reconstruction, employed at a variety of Canadian historic sites in the 1930s, followed a North American pattern influenced by the reconstruction of Colonial Williamsburg. Recognition that increasing private ownership of automobiles would generate growth in tourism encouraged the reconstruction of Fort George as a tourist destination. Both the reconstruction process and the subsequent attraction of the public to the area contributed to the economic development of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Blockhouse 1 is valued for its very good aesthetic design. The reconstruction is based on freely interpreted historical research. The plans, dimensions and construction of the blockhouses at Fort George were based on contemporaneous examples at Fort York. The architects’ concepts of a 'frontier' aesthetic, expressed in the rugged exposed log exterior of the building, parallels the visual effect created by the Fort York blockhouses after the removal of their exterior cladding during a 1934 'restoration'. Clapboard has been added to the exterior of Blockhouse 1, resulting in a more refined architectural appearance. Good functional design is evidenced in the adaptation of the interior into an interpretive centre and theatre.
Blockhouse 1 reinforces the historic character of Fort George National Historic Site of Canada and is a familiar landmark to residents and to visitors.
Sources: Shannon Ricketts, Twenty Buildings, Niagara Historic Sites, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Building, Report 89-015; Blockhouse No.1, Fort George, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 89-015.
The character-defining elements of Blockhouse 1 should be respected.
Its very good aesthetic, good functional design and good quality materials and craftsmanship, for example:
- the rectangular, two-storey massing;
- the low-pitched hipped roof, the horizontal clapboard siding, the hand split cedar shakes used for roof cladding, and the chimney;
- the squared logs and dovetailed corners used for construction of the plain exterior walls, and the placement of loopholes and small multi-pane windows;
- the interior configuration.
The manner in which Blockhouse 1 reinforces the historic character of Fort George National Historic Site of Canada and is a familiar landmark, as evidenced by:
- its simple design and materials that harmonize with the nearby cottage and adjacent blockhouses and other buildings within the military setting;
- its role as a component of the group of structures from the Fort George National Historic Site of Canada, which makes it familiar to locals and visitors.