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200 James Street North, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1986/09/10

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Other Name(s)

John Weir Foote Armoury
Manège militaire de John Weir Foote
Royal Hamilton Light Infantry Museum
John Weir Foote Armoury National Historic Site of Canada
Lieu historique national du Canada du Manège-Militaire-de-John Weir Foote

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1888/01/01 to 1908/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/01/24

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Armoury on James Street North, also called the John Weir Foote Armoury National Historic Site of Canada, is composed of two armouries that together form one large complex. Built at different times, the buildings are united by their use of red brick decorated with white stone trim, and by such military references as corner towers and troop doors. Their drill halls are spanned by impressive truss systems. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Armoury was designated as a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its direct association with events of national importance, its very good aesthetic and functional design, and its important contribution to the character of the area.

Originally built for Hamilton's volunteer militia, whose growth and development closely corresponded to the evolution of the active volunteer militia force throughout the colony, the Armoury serves today as headquarters for the 11th Field Battery, Royal Canadian Artillery (reputed to be the oldest Canadian military unit still in existence); the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry; the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada; and the 705 Communications Squadron.

Though quite different, the architectural styles of the two drill halls give the present complex an impressive unity. The North Drill Hall is one of the oldest in the country and is of a picturesque Romanesque Revival style. The South Drill Hall has a more dramatic and highly symmetrical façade. The truss work spanning the interior parade grounds in the two drill halls is significant in each hall for their time.

Sources: Jacqueline Adell, John Weir Foote Armoury, Hamilton, Ontario, Federal Heritage Building Review Office Building Report 86-015;John Weir Foote Armoury, Hamilton, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 86-015.

Character-Defining Elements

The heritage character of this property is defined by the street façades on James, Robert and Hughson Streets, and by the interiors of the two drill halls, namely:
-the façades of red brick, with decorative cut stone dressing and trim, and the high quality and well maintained masonry work;
-the fronts of the drill halls, which are characteristic of facilities of this kind at the time, with corner towers flanking a central gable;
-the clearly demarcated entrances, the prominent gable fronts and the buttresses along the side walls, clearly reflecting the interior layout and function;
-the exterior design of the connecting wings, which is subdued but sympathetic, providing a high degree of integrity to the complex;
-the interior of the North Drill Hall, marked by an exposed wooden truss system above the central parade ground, reputed to be the oldest structure of its size in the city, as well as the well-crafted staircase leading to the old officers' mess rooms;
-the South Drill Hall’s steel truss system, which provided at the time what is believed to be the largest interior space of its type in the country;
-the officers’ mess, with its carved oak staircases decorated with regimental insignia, the French doors with art nouveau decoration, and the wrought-iron viewing gallery.




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

Indigenous Affairs and Cultural Heritage Directorate Documentation Centre 3rd Floor, room 366 30 Victoria Street Gatineau, Québec J8X 0B3

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




Related Places

General view

John Weir Foote Armoury National Historic Site of Canada

The John Weir Foote Armoury is situated in the downtown commercial area of Hamilton, Ontario. It is a large building composed of two sections constructed at different times. The…


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