Description of Historic Place
The Defensible Lockmaster’s House is located on the Rideau Canal immediately above the upper chamber at Hartwells Lockstation, part of the Rideau Canal National Historic Site of Canada. The house is a two-storey, clapboard-clad building of square plan with a shallow hipped roof of cedar shingles. The front elevation is symmetrical, with a central single doorway flanked by double-hung windows on both storeys. An open, gable-fronted porch protects the front entrance, while another protects a doorway at the rear. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Defensible Lockmaster’s House is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Defensible Lockmaster’s House is closely associated with the construction and operation of the Rideau Canal, which illustrates firstly the theme of military defence strategy for Upper and Lower Canada in the second quarter of the 19th century, and secondly, the subsequent evolution and transformation of the waterway as a federal public work. The two-chamber Hartwells lock began operation in 1833, and the Defensible Lockmaster’s House was built in lieu of a more substantial blockhouse. The Hartwells Lockstation and the Defensible Lockmaster’s House are distinguished by the long service of their lockmasters: only six from 1833 into the 1950s.
The Defensible Lockmaster’s House is valued for its good aesthetic design as seen in simple, defensible lockmaster’s houses built along the Rideau Canal in the mid-nineteenth century by the Royal Engineers. Good functional design is evidenced in the interior layout. The house retains elements of its original military form as well as added features characteristic of the beginning of the 20th century. Its present clapboard-clad, hipped-roof domestic exterior form is typical both of structures throughout the Rideau system and of rural housing in the wider region. Good craftsmanship is evident in the quality of construction.
The Defensible Lockmaster’s House reinforces the historic character of Hartwells Lockstation and is a familiar landmark to local residents and to visitors.
Sources: Marilyn E. Armstrong-Reynolds, Eleven Buildings, Northern Area, Rideau Canal, Ontario, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Building Report 91-133 to 91-134 and 91-175; The Defensible Lockmaster’s House, Hartwell’s Lockstation, Rideau Canal, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 91-133.
The following character-defining elements of the Defensible Lockmaster’s House should be respected.
Its role as an illustration of the transformation of the Rideau Canal from a defensive work into a public waterway system, as reflected in:
- its association with colonial defences and the construction of the Rideau Canal;
- its continuing administrative and functional role in lockstation operation;
- its stability as a functioning workplace since its earliest operation;
- its material evocation of the local rural past of the region.
Its incorporation of workplace and public functions over a very long period in a traditional residential form and style, as manifested in:
- its clapboard-clad, hipped-roofed domestic exterior form typical both of structures throughout the Rideau system and of rural housing in the wider region;
- the symmetries and materials of its principal elevations;
- the preservation of original building structure and material within;
- its relation to an architectural type found at other locations along the Rideau Canal.
The manner in which it reinforces the waterside and the partly rural character of the setting, as evidenced in:
- its location and visual contribution to a coherent appearance of building and landscape setting;
- its attractive, publicly accessible, and working landscape at the water’s edge;
- its role as a long-standing visual landmark, in its present form from the beginning of the 20th century.