Description of Historic Place
The Gunshed, situated at the Butler’s Barracks National Historic Site on the outskirts of Niagara-on-the-Lake, stands amongst park-like lawns and trees. The long, rectangular one-storey structure has a hipped roof and a white-painted clapboard exterior. The façade features seven, regularly placed, double loading doors. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Gunshed is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Gunshed is one of the best examples of a structure associated with defence and economic development of the Niagara-on-the-Lake region during the early 19th century. It is also associated with the evolution of the militia and the regular Canadian army. The British established Butler’s Barracks complex after the War of 1812-1814, to house and train troops for the defence of Upper Canada. The Gunshed was designed to store British ordnance and later used for general storage. One of five structures at Butler’s Barracks, it was designated a National Historic Site by the federal government in 1951.
Valued for its very good aesthetic design, the Gunshed is a rare surviving example of an early 19th-century wooden warehouse designed by the Royal Engineers. Balanced massing, regularly placed windows and a low-pitched roof speak to its Georgian stylistic influence. Very good functionally driven design is evidenced in the placement of door and window openings, which express the structure’s utilitarian function. Typical of Royal Engineer designs, local materials were employed in construction. Good craftsmanship is evidenced in the wood framing and the stone foundation.
The Gunshed reinforces the historic character of Butler’s Barracks 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 89-016.
Gunshed, Butler’s Barracks, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 89-016.
The character-defining elements of the Gunshed should be respected, for example:
Its very good aesthetics, very good functional design and good quality materials and craftsmanship, for example:
-The simple, one-storey balanced massing;
-The low-pitched hip roof;
-The timber construction of wood framing clad in clapboard and shingles on a stone foundation;
-The arrangement of the seven double doors.
The manner in which the Gunshed reinforces the historic character of the National Historic Site and is a well-known regional landmark, as evidenced by:
-Its simple design and materials that harmonize with the adjacent Commissariat Stores, nearby Officer’s Quarters, and other historic buildings within the military setting;
-Its role as an important component of the group of surviving structures from the Butler’s Barracks National Historic Site complex that makes it familiar to locals and visitors.