Description of Historic Place
The Brock Avenue Heritage Conservation District is composed of six buildings located at 345, 365, 380, 385, 390 and 395 Brock Avenue. Situated on a cul-de-sac between Hill Street West and St. George Street West in the former Town of Fergus, now the Township of Centre Wellington, this district features six two-storey stone buildings, constructed circa 1935, that were designed by local architect Harvey Matthews.
The district was designated for its heritage significance by the Town of Fergus under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law 97-076).
Brock Avenue is adjacent to the Beatty Brothers Ltd. factory on Hill Street where the original residents were employed. The street itself is a cul-de-sac, running north and south, and opening to Hill Street at its north end. There are four houses on the west side, and two on the east side. This residential area was greatly improved when the railway was closed in 1986, as the tracks ran behind all six houses creating a noisy environment.
The Brock Avenue Heritage Conservation District is significant for its association with the Beatty Brothers Ltd., local manufacturers of farm equipment that employed a significant number of Fergus' residents. The six houses in this heritage conservation district were built circa 1935 by the company as residences for supervisory personnel who might be needed in the factory at irregular hours, or during emergencies. The name 'Brock Avenue' was suggested by Hugh Cameron, Maintenance Supervisor at the Beatty Factory, and the first occupant of 345 Brock Avenue. The name was inspired by General Sir Isaac Brock, who was a military commander and administrator of Upper Canada during the War of 1812. General Brock was killed in battle and is regarded as the saviour of Upper Canada, and a Canadian hero of the war.
The houses were designed by Harvey Matthews, a self-taught architect and designer, who worked in the Beatty's design department. The designs of several other properties in Fergus, including the Melville Church Hall, are attributed to him. The building contractor was likely Charles Mattaini and the stone used in the construction of each home was supplied from a local quarry just east of Fergus. Each lot and house was sold to its occupants at cost and paid for by salary deductions of $18 per month.
All six buildings in the Brock Avenue Heritage Conservation District contribute to the heritage value of the district due to the workmanship, beauty, and uniqueness of each home. Each house is characterized by cut, squared stone, laid in irregular courses and similar in colour and size which provides a cohesive aesthetic to the streetscape. While the floor plans, height and massing of each house is the same, details such as the roof configurations, window details, entranceways and trim work provide each one with their own unique character. This gives the street a remarkable consistency of design, while also providing a pleasing variety. Only two other houses similar in style were built in Fergus (240 St. David Street North, and 250 Hill Street West).
Sources: By-law 97-076, Town of Fergus; The Heritage Conservation District Plan of Brock Avenue, Town of Fergus, 1996.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Brock Avenue Heritage Conservation District include the:
- use of local stone which was cut, squared, and laid in irregular courses
- height and massing of each building
- their locations within the streetscape and the cul-de-sac
- the district's proximity to the former Hill Street Beatty Factory
- the individual rooflines, trim details, fenestration and entranceways