Description of Historic Place
The Government of Canada Building is located at the foot of the Front Street bridge on Pinnacle Street, a commercial gateway to downtown Belleville, Ontario. The building is a large, modern structure comprised of cubic shapes that make up the different sections of the building. The official recognition refers to the footprint of the building.
The Government of Canada Building is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Government of Canada Building is associated with the post-Second World War period of growth and new development, and the expansion of federal government departments and services. The building was a large scale project at the time of its construction, requiring the demolition of several existing buildings and the closing of an existing street. As such, it is a very good example of a significant phase in the development of the local community, to which it contributed.
The Government of Canada Building is a good representative example of post-war modern design sensibilities and the International Style. The building is characterized by its geometric shapes, lack of ornamentation, construction materials and strong horizontal emphasis. Designed by Watson and Weigand Architects, this building represents one of their most important commissions and is a very good example of their work. The firm was also involved in the design of several municipal projects for the city and their design influence is apparent in Belleville.
The Government of Canada Building reinforces the present character of its commercial streetscape setting located at the gateway to downtown Belleville. Having retained its character, it is also a well-known landmark throughout the city and the surrounding region.
Sources: Kate MacFarlane, Belleville, Ontario, Federal Heritage Building Review Office Building Report 99-070; Government of Canada Building, Belleville, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 99-070.
The character-defining elements of the Government of Canada Building should be respected.
Its International Style, good functional design and craftsmanship and materials, for
- its asymmetrical stepped massing and cubic volumes;
- the relationship between the top floor’s solid mass with punched openings and the transparency of the ground floor base, which creates the impression of a floating volume and visually differentiates the building’s functions;
- its strong horizontal emphasis, including the flat roof, the continuous bands of punched fenestration, and the band of black granite which wraps around the base of three elevations;
- its functional design, including the location of public and processing facilities on the ground floor, offices on the second floor, the loading dock at the rear, the floor plates and the provisions for the upward expansion of the building which allows space for a variety of requirements;
- the lack of ornamentation, use of simple construction materials and smooth surfaces;
- the limestone masonry on all four elevations, glass curtain walls, brickwork, and the ceramic enamelled steel posts between the aluminium window units;
- the quality craftsmanship on the interior including the painted concrete block walls, acoustic tile ceilings, the terrazzo floors and hard plaster walls.
The manner in which the Government of Canada Building reinforces the present character of its commercial streetscape and is a well-known landmark throughout the city and the region, as evidenced by:
- its International Style which complements the streetscape and respects the building faces and the cornice lines of the adjacent commercial buildings;
- its visibility due to its large scale and prominent location on the main commercial artery leading to downtown Belleville;
- its role as a post office and employment insurance office which makes it known to the community.