Maritime Naval Communication Centre
2260 McCoy Road, Saanich, British Columbia, V8N, Canada
Links and documents
1939/01/01 to 1940/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Maritime Naval Communications Centre is a one-storey, stucco-clad, masonry flat-roofed Streamline Moderne building. It is located on the campus of the University of Victoria, in the Gordon Head area of Saanich.
The heritage value of the Maritime Naval Communications Centre is associated with its development within its neighbourhood context. Gordon Head is bordered on the north and east by Haro Strait and on the west by Blenkinsop Valley and Mount Douglas. First settled by farmers, starting with James Todd in 1852, Gordon Head became famous for its strawberries and then its daffodils. In 1921, city water service was brought to Gordon Head, leading to a proliferation of greenhouses and vegetable farming. Since the 1950s, the area has gradually been developed with single-family housing.
The Maritime Naval Communications Centre is of heritage value for its association with Canada's role in the Second World War. The construction of a wireless (radio) station on the site was planned in late 1939 by the Department of Transport. However, the building was used as a Maritime Naval Communications Centre; during the war it was surrounded by a high barbed-wire fence, guarded by sentries, and off-limits to personnel at the adjacent Gordon Head Military Camp. The basement contained power-generating equipment, and the wireless equipment, located on the first floor, was connected to a radio mast some distance away.
Architecturally, the building is of significant value as a fine example of the Streamline Moderne style, rare in Saanich and the surrounding districts. Designed to suit functional requirements, it followed a pure expression of the style, based on pure form rather than detailing. The construction was exceptionally robust, for maximum protection of the equipment; the walls are parged red clay tile blocks approximately 30 centimeters thick, and the basements walls, main floor and roof are 30 centimeter thick concrete. The building was designed to look like a house, with a circular formal drive in front to act as camouflage from the air.
Source: Heritage Planning Files, District of Saanich
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Maritime Naval Communications Centre include its:
- location on the campus of the University of Victoria near the surviving World War Two Army Huts
- form, scale and massing, including its solid, heavy construction for military purposes
- Moderne elements such as smooth stucco exterior walls; flat roof with small ledge at roof-line; horizontality of the elevation; the curved windows; and the vertical fluting on each side of the front door
- steel sash windows with narrow profile muntins
- the circular drive in front
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.954
Community Heritage Register
Theme - Category and Type
- Governing Canada
- Military and Defence
Function - Category and Type
- Military Defence Installation
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Planning Files, District of Saanich
Cross-Reference to Collection