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Merrickville Blockhouse

279 Saint Lawrence Street, Merrickville-Wolford, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1992/04/30

General view of the Merrickville Blockhouse, 1989.; Agence Parcs Canada/ Parks Canada Agency (ORO), Couture, 1989.
General view
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Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/02/21

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Located just off the Rideau Canal side in the heart of Merrickville, the Merrickville Blockhouse is an imposing well-proportioned symmetrical two-storey pyramidal-roofed structure, 4.7 square metres at the base. Constructed for strength with thick masonry walls on the first floor and heavy timbers on the overhanging second floor, the blockhouse retains many defence related elements. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

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

Historical Value:
The Merrickville Blockhouse is one of the best examples of a structure associated with the defence of Canada against possible American invasion. It served the local militia as a mustering point and supply depot for arms and provisions. Used routinely as a lockmaster’s residence and storehouse this defensive structure was occupied briefly by troops during the 1837-38 Rebellion. Sergeant John Johnson, involved in the initial construction of the canal, served as lockkeeper from 1836-1869, and drilled local militia during the rebellion. Merrickville was a commercial centre whose further growth and importance was stimulated by the canal construction.

Architectural Value:
The Merrickville Blockhouse is a very good example of a functional 19th-century military defence design. It is also a very good example of a blockhouse built to Colonel By’s original specifications focusing on functional design and materials. Designed to accommodate 50 men, it is the largest of its type just off the Rideau Canal and the building exhibits good craftsmanship and care in the execution of its construction and its details.

Environmental Value:
The Merrickville Blockhouse is located near both the lockstation and the canal bridge and is the largest of its type on the Rideau Canal. By virtue, it is a regional landmark because of its imposing size and prominent location. The structure reinforces the Rideau Canal setting in Merrickville and is a landmark and symbol to both local people and to visitors.

Sources: James De Jonge, Merrickville Lockstation, Buildings, Depot, Merrckville Blockhouse. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 91-078; Blockhouse, Rideau Canal, Merrickville, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 91-078.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Merrickville Blockhouse should be respected.

The functional military defence design and good quality materials and craftsmanship as evidenced in:
- the simple well proportioned geometric massing of the squat square profile tower with pyramidal roof covered in wood shingles;
- the carefully constructed thick limestone masonry walls of the first storey;
- the heavy one-foot square hand-hewn timbers of the overhanging second storey, including the heavy hand hewn knee braces, and vertical tongue and groove boards of the interior;
- the exterior covering of tin fireproof shingles on the second storey;
- the single elevated entrance reached by a platform over the dry moat;
- the many defence related elements such as the machiolations in the second- storey overhang and the loopholes flanking the second-storey windows;
- the remains of the rubble-stone magazine in the cellar.

The manner in which the Merrickville Blockhouse reinforces the character of the Rideau Canal area.




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



Canal or Canal Works

Architect / Designer

Colonel John By



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




Related Places

General view

Merrickville Blockhouse National Historic Site of Canada

Merrickville Blockhouse is a two-storey, masonry and timber defensive structure located on the banks of the Rideau Canal in the town of Merrickville Ontario.

Aerial view of the canal

Rideau Canal National Historic Site of Canada

Rideau Canal National Historic Site of Canada is a 200 km man-made waterway running through a corridor of communities from Ottawa River to Lake Ontario. It was built in the mid…


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