Victoria Hall / Petrolia Town Hall National Historic Site of Canada
Victoria Hall / Petrolia Town Hall
Victoria Hall / hôtel de ville de Petrolia
Victoria Playhouse Petrolia
Théâtre Victoria de Petrolia
Links and documents
1887/01/01 to 1889/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Victoria Hall / Petrolia Town Hall National Historic Site of Canada is a fanciful, mid-sized town hall building with a prominent clock tower. Built of buff brick in the late 19th century, its design follows the tradition of late-Victorian eclecticism. Victoria Hall / Petrolia Town Hall is located in Petrolia’s historic downtown amongst other brick buildings constructed in the late 19th century. The formal recognition consists of the building on its legal property.
Victoria Hall / Petrolia Town Hall was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1975 because, built in 1889 in the midst of an oil boom, this opulent town hall reflects this stage in the town’s growth.
Built in the late 1880s at the height of Petrolia’s oil boom, Victoria Hall reflects a time when Petrolia was among the wealthiest towns in Canada. Oil was first discovered in the 1860s and the village became a town in 1874. By the 1880s, permanent brick buildings had replaced the small wooden structures of the early boom years. The construction of the town hall was the highlight of this phase of permanent construction.
Victoria Hall / Petrolia Town Hall was built to house multiple civic functions, including a jail in the basement; municipal offices, council chamber, court room, fire department and armoury on the first floor, and a 1000-seat opera house on the upper floor. The town’s insistence that an opera house be incorporated in the new town hall reflects Petrolia’s late-19th century affluence. The oil boom had created a class of wealthy businessmen who demanded entertainment appropriate to their economic status.
Designed by London, Ontario architect George Durand, Victoria Hall’s asymmetrical massing, varied roofline and lively detailing illustrates the high Victorian taste for exuberant eclecticism. The building’s design also reflects the influence of American forms of the Queen Anne Revival style. While a 1989 fire gutted the interior and destroyed much of the original exterior wood trim and glazing, the original form and masonry detailing of the building survive. In 1992, the building was rehabilitated to accommodate a theatre for the performing arts.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, November 1975.
Key elements which relate to the heritage value of include:
- the influence of the American version of the Queen Anne Revival style, evident in the asymmetrical massing, the lightness and verticality of the building’s composition and the small scale of its elements;
- its massing and composition, consisting of a central two-storey hip-roofed rectangular block, a cross-gabled wing projecting from each of the four elevations, and a prominent, off-centre tower;
- its window and door openings, including a series of large round-arched window and door openings at ground level, upper floor windows with the tall narrow proportions typical of the Queen Anne Revival style, and lancet and Gothic-style tower windows with brick corbelling;
- surviving original materials, including its buff brick exterior.
Government of Canada
Historic Sites and Monuments Act
National Historic Site of Canada
1992/01/01 to 1992/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
- Governing Canada
- Government and Institutions
Function - Category and Type
- Auditorium, Cinema or Nightclub
- Armoury or Drill Hall
- Correctional Facility
- Town or City Hall
Architect / Designer
C.H. Hughson and Co.
Location of Supporting Documentation
National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec
Cross-Reference to Collection