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Drill Hall

1 Cartier Square, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1985/04/23

General view of the main façade of the Cartier Square Drill Hall, 1984.; Monique Trépanier, Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1984.
General view
General view of the Cartier Square Drill Hall and its surroundings, 1984.; Monique Trépanier, Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1984.
General view
General view of one of the two towers on the main façade of the Cartier Square Drill Hall, 1984.; Monique Trépanier, Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1984.
General view

Other Name(s)

Drill Hall
Cartier Square Drill Hall
Manège militaire de la place Cartier

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1879/01/01 to 1881/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2010/03/03

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Drill Hall, also known as the Cartier Square Drill Hall, is a large, brick structure composed of a gable-roofed central hall and a façade on the short side with a large central door and corner towers. The unencumbered drill hall space is spanned by an impressive queen-post truss system, and lit by a clerestory, which runs along the ridge of the roof. Across its parade ground, the Cartier Square Drill Hall looks onto the heart of downtown Ottawa. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Drill Hall is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.

Historical Value
The Drill Hall is one of the best examples of a significant building type that emerged in the 1870's as Canada took over responsibility for its own defence. The building was at the time of construction, and still is, the home of an active voluntary militia within the city. It serves two regiments, the Governor General's Foot Guards and the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa, both of which are direct successors of the units originally housed there.

Architectural Value
The Drill Hall is a very good example of post-Confederation (1868-1890) drill hall architecture, and features Second Empire and Italianate style architectural elements that clearly reflect the official government style of the period. Its excellent functional design and the good quality of construction materials are exhibited through its spacious, two-storey brick construction, and a simple pitched roof with a large clerestory to allow light and air to enter the building. The five tall, Italianate windows, typical of buildings during Thomas Seaton Scott’s tenure as chief architect of the Department of Public Works, make reference to the expansive interior space of the building. Two towers, capped by mansard roofs and decorated with iron cresting, anchor the façade and give the building a picturesque silhouette.

Environmental Value
The Drill Hall, bordered by the public recreational areas of Confederation Park and the Rideau Canal, is the oldest unchanged building of its type that survives from this post-confederation period. Its sober façade and architectural elements reinforce the present character of the area, and it remains a familiar local landmark within the downtown core.

Sources: Jacqueline Adell, Cartier Square Drill Hall, Ottawa, Ontario, Federal Heritage Building Review Office Building Report 84-038; Cartier Square Drill Hall, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 84-038.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Drill Hall should be respected.

Its very good aesthetic and excellent functional design, and good quality craftsmanship and materials, as evidenced by:
- its large, two storey brick construction, topped by a low gable roof;
- the aesthetic qualities of the building's exterior revealed in the composition of its main (north) façade and in the decorative qualities of its brickwork;
- the picturesque appearance of its Italianate window patterns on the front façade and its flanking mansard towers;
- the large round-headed windows across the front of the building and the large clerestory along the roof ridge which provide sufficient natural light;
- the circular, stained-glass medallion in the central window on the main façade;
- the 19th-century technology of framing a clear open space, which is expressed in the eleven exposed queen-post trusses, braced and reinforced with iron ties;
- within the quarters, the two officers' messes which preserve the character of the recreational life associated with militia regiments;

The manner in which the Drill Hall reinforces the present character of Cartier Square and is a familiar landmark in the region, as evidenced by:
- its prominent downtown setting, bordered by two important public recreational areas;
- its distinctive military design, which is readily identified by the region.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy

Recognition Type

Classified Federal Heritage Building

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type


Armoury or Drill Hall


Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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