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William Saunders Building

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1994/12/08

General view of the William Saunders Building front façade, 1994.; Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food / Ministère de l'Agriculture et de l'Agroalimentaire, 1994.
Front façade
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Other Name(s)

William Saunders Building
Building No. 49
Bâtiment no 49

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/04/23

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The William Saunders Building, also known as Building No. 49, is prominently sited on the Main Lawn at the Central Experimental Farm National Historic site of Canada in Ottawa. This two-storey, Collegiate Gothic building is articulated by a projecting central entrance tower, matching end wings and a crenellated roofline. The tower, with its Tudor-arched entrance and oriel window rises above the roofline. The walls are faced in monochromatic brick highlighted with stone details, such as belt courses above the basement, the moulded window hoods and surrounds, a coat of arms and carved stonework around the entrance. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The William Saunders Building is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.

Historical Value
The William Saunders Building is directly associated with the expansion of the experimental farm system in the 1930s. Responding to the increasingly diverse soil and climatic conditions encountered across the country, the experimental farm system expanded its research facilities to many recently settled areas, resulting in more facilities and a centralized administration. The construction of the building was undertaken as part of the Pubic Works Construction Act of 1934 and is also associated with the creation of jobs by the federal government to alleviate unemployment during the 1930s.

Architectural Value
The William Saunders Building is valued for its very good aesthetic qualities. It is a superior example of the Collegiate Gothic style of architecture built by the Department of Public Works. A calm, monumental building, it combines gothic decoration with a good functional plan. A late-gothic style was selected for numerous federal government buildings in Ottawa as part of the plan for the beautification of the national capital. Very good craftsmanship is evidenced in the masonry work as well as in the building’s formal interior, with its decorative finishes such as terrazzo floors with marble borders and wood doors and trim.

Environmental Value
The prominent William Saunders Building reinforces the present character of its open area setting at the Central Experimental Farm and is familiar within the immediate area.

Sources: Katherine Spencer-Ross, William Saunders Building No. 49, Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa, Ontario, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Building Report, 94-007; William Saunders Building, Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 94-007.

Character-Defining Elements

The following character-defining elements of the William Saunders Building should be respected.

Its very good Collegiate Gothic style design, good functional design and very
good materials and craftsmanship, for example:
-the long, two-storey, flat roofed structure;
-the main façade articulated by a three-storey central tower and projecting wings, and displaying a Gothic treatment of buttresses, roof-top crenellation, oriel and bay windows;
-the monochromatic brick facing highlighted with stone detailing, including the belt course above the basement level, the moulded window hoods and surrounds, as well as the carved stonework of the entry and the coat of arms;
-the traditional ordered layout of the interior;
-the interior decorative finishes such as the terrazzo floors with marble borders, and wood doors and trim.

The manner in which the William Saunders Building reinforces the character of its open lawn setting at the Central Experimental Farm and is familiar within the immediate area, as evidenced by:
-its siting, its imposing style and its prominence in front of the Main Lawn;
-its important status and familiarity within the immediate area, due to the building’s imposing Collegiate Gothic style.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy

Recognition Type

Recognized Federal Heritage Building

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type



Health and Research
Research Facility

Architect / Designer

John Bethune Roper



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

Aerial view of research centre and fields

Central Experimental Farm National Historic Site of Canada

The Central Experimental Farm National Historic Site of Canada, located in urban Ottawa, Ontario, is comprised of various structures and buildings embedded within a large rural…


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