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Seaforth Armoury

1650 Burrard Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1997/09/18

Detail view of the Seaforth Armoury, showing the officers' front entrance, 1997.; Heritage Research Associates Inc., 1997.
Detail view
Corner view of the Seaforth Armoury, showing the roofs, the two circular towers with conical roofs, the massive stepped buttresses, and the large stepped chimney.; Department of National Defence / Ministère de la Défense nationale
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1935/01/01 to 1936/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/06/10

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Set on a large site in downtown urban Vancouver, the Seaforth Armoury is a massive, low-massed, asymmetrical, concrete structure with a fortified appearance. The main entrance is a low, central troop door. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Seaforth Armoury is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.

Historical Value:
The Seaforth Armoury is closely associated with the Public Work Construction Act of 1934, a federal government project to create work during the Great Depression. Its construction illustrates the interwar growth of the militia regiments. The armoury was built for the Seaforth Highlanders when military conflict in the Pacific was a concern and the regiment was strong.

Architectural Value:
The Seaforth Armoury conveys a strong image of solidity and impregnability and is a very good example of an armoury in the Scots Baronial style. It incorporates many medievally inspired features often employed in 1930s armouries, with traditional Scottish Baronial style details reflecting the regiment’s Scottish roots. Reinforced concrete technology was exploited for the first time in armoury design for all major exterior walls and finishes. Excellent craftsmanship, functional design, and its very large floor space are distinguishing characteristics. Steel roof trusses were used because of Vancouver’s susceptibility to earthquakes.

Environmental Value:
The Seaforth Armoury is a distinctive landmark situated in downtown Vancouver. It reinforces the present commercial and industrial character of the area and plays an important role as a familiar landmark in the neighbourhood.

Sources: Heritage Research Associates Inc. Seaforth Armoury, 1650 Burrard Street, Vancouver. British Columbia. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 97-007; Seaforth Armoury, 1650 Burrard Street, Vancouver. British Columbia. Heritage Character Statement 97-007.

Character-Defining Elements

The following character-defining elements of the Seaforth Armoury should be respected.

Its Scottish-Baronial style used for military purposes using good quality materials and craftsmanship, for example:
- the large scale, asymmetrical, low massing;
- the grand troop door, distinguished by heraldic plaques bearing the Cross of Saint Andrew;
- the roofs, parapetted gable ends and dormers, two circular towers with conical roofs, stepped crenellated flat roofs, massive stepped buttresses, and the large stepped chimney;
- the oriel windows with balconies, and the decorative window surrounds;
- the decorative details including cast iron thistle finials, decorative bartizans, mock quoins, and string course wall patterns;
- the large unobstructed space of the central drill hall with spectator galleries along its full length, and supported by steel roof trusses;
- the interior features including doors, moulding, staircase, and light fixtures and oak floors;
- the north walls of both messes with large, pre-cast concrete and Welsh tile fireplaces displaying the regimental motto;
- the exterior walls and finishes of reinforced concrete.

The manner in which the Seaforth Armoury is a familiar community landmark as evidenced by:
- its prominent downtown setting on a major street in Vancouver;
- its distinctive profile occupying a large site.




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



Armoury or Drill Hall

Architect / Designer

McCarter and Nairne



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




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