Description of Historic Place
Blockhouse 2, located at Fort George National Historic Site of Canada, overlooks the Niagara River on the outskirts of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Within the fort palisades is a large grassed area, with paved walkways. Blockhouse 2 is a two-storey, log structure with an overhanging second storey and a low, hipped-roof clad in cedar shakes. Loopholes and small windows give a military appearance to the structure. The exterior walls of exposed squared logs have a rugged, frontier-like quality. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Blockhouse 2 is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
Blockhouse 2 is a very good example of a building associated with a period of accelerated historic site development during the Depression, as a result of government funding for relief work programs. 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 2 is valued for its 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 Fort York examples. The rugged appearance of the blockhouse is based on the architects’ concepts of a ‘frontier’ aesthetic. The exposed log exterior of the building parallels the visual effect created by the Fort York blockhouses after the removal of their exterior during a 1934 restoration. Good functional design is evidenced in the manner in which the ground floor of the interior houses an interpretive display.
The Blockhouse 2 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. 2, Fort George, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 89-015.
The following character-defining elements of Blockhouse 2 should be respected.
Its good aesthetic and functional design and good quality materials and craftsmanship, for example:
- the long, rectangular, two-storey massing;
- the low-pitched hipped roof, the roof cladding of split cedar shakes, and the chimney;
- the exterior walls are composed of squared logs with dovetailed corners, the loopholes, small windows and entrances at either end;
- the interior configuration.
The manner in which Blockhouse 2 reinforces the historic character of the National Historic Site and is a familiar landmark, as evidenced by:
- its simple design and materials that harmonize with the adjacent blockhouses, the nearby cottage and the other buildings within the military setting;
- its role as a component of the group of structures from the Fort George National Historic Site complex, which makes it familiar to locals and visitors.