Description of Historic Place
Building 39 / Recreational Hall is a large, utilitarian, two-and-a-half-storey, rectangular building, constructed primarily of concrete blocks. The main façade is symmetrical and it is divided into five bays, punctuated by applied buttresses in contrasting smooth-finished concrete. The three central, two-storey bays are topped with a gable roof, while the flanking single-storey wings have shed roofs. The building is distinctive in its context through its size and design. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Recreational Hall is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Recreational Hall is a very good illustration of the Unemployment Relief Programme, a government response to the severe economic depression of the 1930’s. The crisis was particularly severe in the western provinces. The programme was administered by the Department of National Defence and was designed to employ able-bodied, unmarried men on public works. The erection of this recreation facility speaks to the magnitude of the unemployment crisis in Saskatchewan. The Recreational Hall is also a very good example of the initial phase of the permanent establishment of Canadian Forces Detachment (CFD) Dundurn, first as a working camp and later as a training base. The hall was specifically designed to provide year-round recreational activities for workers on relief.
The Recreational Hall has a good, functional design, adapted from the 1912 Department of Militia and Defence Type B drill hall. The gable-roofed, central mass with its shed-roofed wings reflects the building’s interior plan. Although very utilitarian in appearance, subtle detailing suggests a military character. As a recreation facility, the building’s design clearly reflects the full range of services provided in the relief camp. Its materials were manufactured on site and well assembled by relief workers.
The Recreational Hall is the largest and most prominent of approximately 40 buildings constructed during the Unemployment Relief period at Dundurn camp, between 1933-34. It is a key element among the remaining buildings, as it reinforces the character of its surroundings through its size and design. The historical relationship between the Dundurn Recreational Hall and its associated landscape is consistent with the spartan character of the relief camp. Due to its role as a social and recreational centre, the Recreational Hall is a familiar building at CFD Dundurn and is frequently used by residents of the base and by the local community.
Sources: Fern Mackenzie, Recreational Hall, Building 39, CFD Dundurn, Saskatchewan, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 03-009; 39/Recreational Hall, Dundurn, Saskatchewan, Heritage Character Statement 03-009.
The character-defining elements of the Recreational Hall should be respected.
Its good, straightforward and functional design and the expression of the large, interior volume in its massing, as illustrated in:
- the symmetrical composition of three central, two-storey bays with a gable roof, flanked by single-storey wings with shed roofs, directly corresponding to the large, interior central space of the gymnasium;
- the regular pattern of fenestration, which also corresponds with interior functions.
The suggestion of military character as seen in decorative detailing, including:
- the contrasts of façade materials, notably the smooth-finished buttresses, sills, lintels and voussoirs, and the roughly finished surface of the walls;
- the round-arched doorways and flat-arched windows, all with accentuated keystones.
Its good functional design, which is well-suited for its intended purpose and has proven to be very adaptable over time, as evidenced in:
- the large, central gymnasium, which provides basic, adaptable space for a variety of group activities;
- the stage overlooking the gymnasium and the surrounding series of low ceiling spaces, which are adaptable for smaller scale complementary uses.
The good quality of materials and craftsmanship, as manifested in:
- the roughly finished concrete blocks, which were manufactured on site and well-assembled by relief workers.
The visual links between the Recreational Hall and the remaining group of original Unemployment Relief camp buildings, as illustrated by:
- the massing and materials.