Description of Historic Place
The Officer’s Mess, also known as Building 5 is one of a group of buildings located within the earthen ramparts of the former Fort Saint-Jean, now the Royal Military College Saint Jean. The large, rectangular building with projecting end pavilions is topped by a hipped roof with many brick chimneys. Regularly spaced windows with minimal stonework, and pedimented door openings, enliven the solid brick walls of the building. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Officer’s Mess is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.
The Officer’s Mess, as one of a group of buildings constructed within the walls of the former Fort Saint-Jean in 1839, is closely associated with an effort to improve the district’s defences following the 1837-1838 rebellion. Fort Saint-Jean remained an important military centre for the stationing of troops and supplies. The structure is also associated with a period of growth in the city’s commercial activity and its supporting railway, canal and bridge transportation links. One of the most significant stages in the development of the complex was its choice in 1952 as Canada’s third, and first francophone, military college.
The Officer’s Mess is valued for its good aesthetic design whereby simplified vernacular forms influenced by British Classicism are evidenced in its rigid symmetry, rectangular form and classical proportions. The solid walls of irregularly sized brick demonstrate a good functional design. The stonework, such as the dressed foundation, and the flat arches that span the regularly spaced windows, are also evidence of the building’s very good craftsmanship and materials.
The Officer’s Mess reinforces the mid-19th century character of its former fort, now military school setting at the Royal Military College Saint Jean. The building is well-known to those who live, work and frequent the complex.
Sources: Joanna H. Doherty, Four Buildings at Collège Militaire Royal, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Québec, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Building Report, 86-073; Building No.5, Collège Militaire Royal, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Québec, Heritage Character Statement, 86-073.
The character-defining elements of the Officer’s Mess should be respected.
Its classically influenced aesthetic design, good functional design and fine quality materials and craftsmanship, for example:
- the two-storey, rectangular massing with its rigid symmetry, and its simple form and proportions with projecting end pavilions;
- the hipped roof with wooden eaves, boxed and supported on brackets on four sides, and the four brick chimneys formally aligned at the apexes of the longitudinal slope;
- the masonry construction of irregularly sized brick laid in common bond and in flat arches over openings, and the dressed stone foundation and trim;
- the regularly spaced window openings and pedimented entrances.
The manner in which the Officer’s Mess reinforces the mid-19th century character of its former fort, now military school, setting at the Royal Military College Saint Jean and is a well-known building, as evidenced by:
- its large scale, design, construction, and materials, which contribute to the character of a group of four similar buildings within the earthen ramparts of the military school setting;
- its familiarity as a residence to staff, students and visitors, and its national recognition as part of the grounds of the old Fort St. Jean.