Description of Historic Place
The Victoria Park Square Heritage Conservation District is situated in the downtown area of the City of Brantford. The district encompasses Victoria Park Square and all the buildings on Market, George, Wellington and Darling Streets that front the Square. The buildings were constructed between 1861 and 1970 and are a mixture of local government facilities, churches, offices, and banks all arranged around a central park.
The district is designated for its heritage value by the City of Brantford under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law 119-91). The Brantford Public Library and Victoria Park Square are also protected by separate Part IV Heritage Designations.
Victoria Park Square is the visual focus of the district. The Victorian Formal Park was first landscaped in 1861 based on plans by John Turner. Turner's plans, in keeping with Upper Canada's link to Britain, were based on the configuration of the Union Jack, with four paths intersecting at the centre of the park. Victoria Park Square is a significant gathering place for local citizens. At the turn of the century, when Brantford was a well-developed industrial town and the hub of regional trade, the park was frequently used as an informal meeting place and a centre for leisure activities. The square was also intimately connected to the adjacent churches, as the congregations would linger after services or gather to enjoy church-sponsored activities.
Three buildings that John Turner designed overlook the park: St. Andrew's United Church (1859), Brant Community Church (1883), and his most significant building, the Brant County Court House (1852). The scale of the courthouse makes it the most prominent in the area, exhibiting a grandeur found throughout the square. The district also includes Brantford City Hall (1966); Brant County Registry Office (1920); Andrew Carnegie Library (1902-04); Central Presbyterian Church (1960); John Lind Building; Wyatt Purcell Building (circa 1970); Bank of Montréal (1913-14); Toronto Dominion Bank (1857-59); Canada Trust (1964-67); Canadian Foresters (1952); and Bell Canada (1949).
The Victoria Park Square Heritage Conservation District is a fine example of a traditional Town Square. The buildings form a harmonious streetscape around the park. The situation of each building around the Union Jack design of Victoria Park Square forms a rare composition and creates a sense of formality. The entrances of three of the surrounding buildings, the Andrew Carnegie Library, the Brant County Court House, and the Brantford City Hall Complex, are on the axis of the radiating Union Jack Plan. The Joseph Brant Memorial in the centre of the park creates ties to the fountain at City Hall and to the Statue of Alexander Graham Bell at the Bell Building.
Each building in the district reflects a particular period of architecture in Ontario. For example, the City Hall Complex exhibits Modernism through its free form design, simplicity, and forceful use of concrete. Other styles that are represented include Beaux Arts, Gothic Revival and Neo-Classical. The towers of the three churches in the district add to the sense of grandeur and provide a visual boundary for the square. Overall, the buildings in the square exhibit very formal and symmetrical designs.
Sources: City of Brantford By-Law 119-91; Victoria Park Square District Plan, Alexander Temporale and Associates Inc., 1991.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of Victoria Park Square Heritage Conservation District include the:
- Union Jack design of the centrally located park
- harmonious streetscape created by the formality, grandeur, and symmetry of
- buildings that reflect particular architectural time periods in Ontario, including Modern, Beaux Arts, Gothic Revival and Neo-Classical
- layout of the buildings on the axis of the Union Jack design
- use of statues to connect the buildings visually