Description of Historic Place
Gillies Grove and House National Historic Site of Canada is a 20th-century estate, located in a forested area at the edge of the Ottawa River on the outskirts of Arnprior, Ontario. The major elements consist of a stand of old growth forest encircling a cleared area with a handsome, Colonial Revival house constructed from the white pine of the forest itself. The designation refers to the estate with its component parts including the forest grove, the house, the carriage house, the gate house, and landscaped areas.
Gillies Grove and House was designated a national historic site of Canada because:
- the grove is one of the few remaining accessible woodlots containing significant stands of old growth Ottawa Valley white pine;
- it has direct associations with two of the Valley’s most prominent forest industry families, the McLachlins and the Gillies;
- the house is a showcase for the white pine products grown, harvested and milled by the Gillies Brothers;
- the house is a fine example of a country estate from the interwar period rendered in the Colonial Revival style.
The heritage value of this site resides in the integrity of the estate comprised of a forest grove and clearing with house, subsidiary buildings and landscaped areas. Gillies Grove is one of the few remaining accessible Ottawa Valley woodlots with significant stands of old growth white pine, long the mainstay of the region’s lumber industry. For more than 125 years the grove was owned and conserved by two of the Valley’s great lumbering families, the McLachlins and the Gillies. In 1937, a fine Colonial Revival style house was built in a clearing in the grove to showcase the white pine products grown, harvested and milled by Gillies Brothers. The grove and house together form a well-preserved example of a country estate from the interwar period.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1994.
Aspects of the site which contribute to its heritage value include:
- the estate as a cultural landscape comprising the woodlot, the gatehouse and a winding drive through the tall trees to a cleared area with lawns and terraces, the carriage house, and the focal point, the house;
- its location in the Ottawa Valley, famed for its timber trade;
- its picturesque setting at the edge of the Ottawa River;
- those elements which represent the woodlots of old growth Ottawa Valley white pine, namely the stands of late succession, old-growth tree species including white pine, beech, basswood, maple, yellow birch, and hemlock;
- the minimalist nature of the landscaping, evoking a natural effect;
- the subsidiary siting and sympathetic treatment of gatehouse and carriage house in their wood construction and cladding, modest scale, simple massing and detailing;
- those elements of the house which represent the white pine products, namely the timber frame, cladding and architectural finishes as executed in white pine;
- those elements of the house which speak to its qualities as a country estate of the interwar years, namely its generous scale and sophisticated finishes, its functional design with amenities such as sunroom wing, the kitchen/garage wing, and the intimate relationship of the house to the site with easy access to the landscape;
- the qualities of the house that speak to its Colonial Revival style, namely the classical revival style evident in the two-storey symmetrically organized main and garden facades with recessive side wings, a projecting pedimented frontispiece with a Palladian arrangement of windows and doors including a columned portico and door with top and sidelights, shuttered multi-paned sash windows, heavily dentilled cornices, and classical mouldings for openings, eaves;
- the house interior with its 20th-century layout consisting of large entry hall leading to living room and dining room running along rear with garden access and kitchen in side wing, classical revival style woodwork, particularly on door and window surrounds, central staircase, and panelling in Library and Games Room.