Description of Historic Place
The O’Brien House, also known as the Kincora Lodge, sits surrounded by trees, on a promontory above Meech Lake, near Ottawa. The house is a large, two-and-a-half storey picturesque structure, clad in both wooden shingles and wood milled to resemble logs. Its steeply pitched, hipped roof with shingles, gables and dormers, seem to echo the nearby rugged shoreline and hills surrounding the lake. At ground level, the front stairs, entrance surround, terraces, chimney and foundations are built of local granite. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
O’Brien House is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.
O’Brien House, built by Ambrose O’Brien, is associated with the residential development of the Gatineau Hills. The house is also associated with the later development of the Meech Lake area, due to the high social position of its owner. The O’Brien family owned Confederation Construction, which built the section of the National Transcontinental Railway running through the Crow’s Nest Pass between Alberta and British Colombia. In total, the O’Brien family owned or partly owned about 173 companies. The family also shared an enthusiasm for professional sports, especially hockey, which they backed generously. In 1909, they started a new hockey league called the National Hockey Association. One of the early teams in the league was the Renfrew Millionaires and another was the legendary Montréal Canadians. The O’Brien family’s money, and Ambrose’s sustained interest in the team, made possible the hiring of such stars as ‘Boom Boom’ Geoffrion, Maurice ‘the Rocket’ Richard, Georges Vezina, and Jean Béliveau.
O’Brien House is valued for its very good aesthetic design. The house presents an eclectic group of architectural features. The basic design was unique, but its composition and execution owe much to the architectural trends of the years preceding its construction. The variety of materials and architectural details displayed on the building express a late influence of the Queen Anne Revival and Shingle styles. Its use of wooden siding, milled to resemble logs, and its indigenous rough stone, indicate a conscious attempt at rusticity that was popular in recreational architecture of the late 1920s and 1930s.
O’Brien House reinforces the picturesque character of its lakeside setting in Gatineau Park and is a familiar building within the immediate area.
Sources: Sally Coutts, Kincora Lodge or O’Brien House, Meech Lake, Gatineau Park, Québec, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Building Report, 84-007; O’Brien House (Kincora Lodge), Meech Lake, Gatineau Park, Québec, Heritage Character Statement, 84-007.
The character-defining elements of O’Brien House should be respected.
Its very good aesthetic design, good functional design, and good craftsmanship and materials, as for example:
- the two-and-a-half storey massing with a steeply-pitched, shingled, hipped roof;
- the wood frame construction clad in wood shingles and wood siding, milled to resemble
- the two offset pyramidally-roofed towers on the second floor of the south façade;
- the dormer windows that pierce the roofline on the third floor;
- the combination of indigenous stone and various building materials, including the
foundation walls, entrance surround, terraces, chimney and stairs that are built of local
- the decorative wood details;
- the multi-pane windows;
- the formal interior layout and features.
The manner in which O’Brien House reinforces the present picturesque character of its lakeside setting and is familiar in the area, as evidenced by:
- its overall scale, distinctive design and various materials that harmonize with its natural
surroundings at Meech Lake;
- its familiarity in the immediate area due to its historical associations.