Description of Historic Place
The Fort George National Historic Site, Artificer’s and Blacksmith Shop is located at the Fort George National Historic Site, which overlooks the Niagara River, on the outskirts of Niagara-on-the-Lake. It is a squared log structure with dovetailed corners and a hipped-roof clad in cedar shakes. It has small, regularly placed windows while large double doors afford access. The Fort George National Historic Site, Artificer’s and Blacksmith Shop is situated within the fort palisades in a large grassed area, with paved walkways. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Fort George National Historic Site, Artificer’s and Blacksmith Shop is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Fort George National Historic Site, Artificer’s and Blacksmith Shop 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 funded 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. Both the Niagara Parks Commission and Ontario Ministry of Highways encouraged the reconstruction of Fort George as a tourist destination. They recognized that the increasing private ownership of automobiles would generate growth in tourism. Both the reconstruction process and the subsequent attraction of the public to the area contributed to the economic development of Niagara- on-the-Lake.
The Fort George National Historic Site, Artificer’s and Blacksmith Shop is valued for its good aesthetic design. The reconstructions were intended to commemorate and interpret important events in history, and were generally based on extensive research. The Fort George National Historic Site, Artificer’s and Blacksmith Shop, however, was originally designed as a modern workshop, and was not based on any historic antecedent. The architect’s concepts of a ‘frontier’ aesthetic are expressed in the rugged exposed log exterior of the buildings. The use of traditional materials, methods and tools in the construction, were part of the reconstruction philosophy of the 1930s. Good functional design is evidenced in the placement of doors and windows, and in the adaptation of the interior into an interpretive centre.
The Fort George National Historic Site, Artificer’s and Blacksmith Shop reinforce the historic character of Fort George National Historic Site and is a familiar landmark to residents and to visitors.
Shannon Ricketts, Twenty Buildings, Niagara Historic Sites, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Building Report 89-015; The Artificer’s Blacksmith Shop, Fort George, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 89-015.
The character-defining elements of the Fort George National Historic Site, Artificer’s and Blacksmith Shop, should be respected.
Its good aesthetic, good functional design and good quality materials and craftsmanship, for example:
-the rectangular, one-storey massing;
-the low-pitched hipped roof and the hand split cedar shakes used for roof cladding, and the chimney;
-the exterior walls, constructed of squared logs with dovetailed corners, the small windows and function-driven large entrances;
-the interior configuration.
The manner in which the Fort George National Historic Site, Artificer’s and Blacksmith Shop, is compatible with 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 nearby Officer’s Quarters, Officer’s Kitchen, and other buildings within the military setting of the fort;
-its role as a component of the group of structures from the Fort George National Historic Site complex that makes it familiar to locals and visitors.