Description of Historic Place
The Main House, sitting prominently on the grounds of the 12-hectare (30-acre) Willson House estate, shares its setting with four outbuildings. The Queen Anne Revival style house is a two-and-a-half-storey, gable roofed structure with a large verandah on its first storey. Its exterior walls are a combination of rough cut stone, wood shingles and half-timbering, which create a rustic appearance. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Main House is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and architectural and environmental values.
The Main House, as part of the Willson House estate, is one of the best federally owned examples of the grand rustic summer estates popular in the late 19th and 20th centuries. It is directly associated with an early stage in the development of the Gatineau Hills for recreational purposes. The house was the summer home of the prominent inventor and industrialist, Thomas Leopold Willson, who played a prominent role in scientific research and development in Canada. At the summer home Willson and his family entertained the famous and influential, including the English poet, Rupert Brooke and poet, Duncan Scott.
The Main House is valued for its very good aesthetic and good functional design. The careful massing, materials and detailing of the building suggest a restrained and relatively symmetrical version of the Queen Anne Revival style, in harmony with the rustic setting. The level of detailing and craftsmanship is high.
The Main House establishes the rustic character of its estate setting and is a familiar building in the area.
Sources: Robert Hunter, The Wilson Estate, Meech Lake, Gainteau Park, Québec, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Building Report, 84-008; Wilson House Complex, Meech Lake, Gatineau Park, Québec, Heritage Character Statement, 84-008.
The character-defining elements of the Main House should be respected.
Its very good aesthetic and functional design and very good craftsmanship and materials, for example:
- the two-and-a-half-storey, rectangular massing and symmetrical plan;
- the double sided gable roof with twin gables, shed dormers and stone chimneys;
- the rectangular windows, and the basement level windows capped by segmental arches;
- the large, first-storey verandah and the two wooden verandahs that span the rear façade;
- the masonry work, including the local pink rough-cut granite laid in irregular courses that forms the entrance steps, base wall and piers;
- the use of varied materials, including rough stone, imitation stone walls, wood shingles and half timbering to create a rustic appearance;
- the careful detailing, including the bracketed and flared eaves, the slight outward bell sweep on the shingles at the base of the second storey, and the shaped wood moulding with dentils;
- the window arrangement and treatment, including the oriel windows;
- the interior layout and features.
The manner in which the Main House establishes the rustic character of its estate setting and is a familiar building in the area, as evidenced by:
- its overall scale, design and materials, which harmonize with its adjacent outbuildings, and landscaped surroundings and contribute to the overall rustic character of the estate;
- its large scale and prominent location which make it a familiar building at the estate and in the area.