Links and documents
1932/01/01 to 1933/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Bessborough Armoury is set on a flat site faced by mature trees within an area of Vancouver containing light industry, and adjacent to a residential area. It is a large, concrete, two-storey, low-massed structure. The main entrance is a low troop door. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Bessborough Armoury is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Bessborough Armoury is closely associated with the development of Canada’s militia regiments during the interwar years. It is an example of the success of the militia reform of 1936 and the enthusiasm of the units in initiating the construction of drill halls. The building is also associated with the housing of Vancouver’s artillery and cavalry units.
The Bessborough Armoury is a good example of an armoury in the Art Deco style and is the only large example of its type in Canada. Its use of the stylized and simplified details and smooth crisp appearance reflects a preference for functional design. The concrete construction conveys an image of solidity and impregnability.
Bessborough Armoury is compatible with its evolved setting of mixed-use commercial and residential buildings. The large scale of the armoury contributes to its prominence. Its community use adds to its local familiarity as a neighbourhood landmark.
Sources: Jacqueline Hucker, Bessborough Armoury, 2025 West 11th Avenue, Vancouver. British Columbia. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 97-068; Bessborough Armoury, 2025 west 11th Avenue, Vancouver. British Columbia. Heritage Character Statement 97-068.
The following character-defining elements of the Bessborough Armoury should be respected.
Its Art Deco style adapted for military structures using good quality materials and craftsmanship, for example:
- the large scale, flat, low, stepped massing, with two elaborately stepped frontispieces and two-storey, flat-roofed ancillary blocks on three sides;
- the façades with flat, simple linear moulding reflecting modern preferences for geometric shapes;
- the Art Deco detailing, the decorative detailing of the inset continuous paired bands of zigzag red and blue tile, chevrons and stripes, and illustrative panels of cavalry and artillery units with a flattened, streamlined treatment;
- the projecting entrance with troop door and its decorative detail;
- the regular grouping of the window openings;
- the interior that is characterized by the large, open volume of the drill hall under the arched segmented steel trusses;
- the simple spartan interior finishes consisting of concrete floors and wood and plaster walls.
The manner in which the Bessborough Armoury is a familiar community landmark as evidenced by:
- its large scale and distinctive profile occupying a site within a setting consisting of mixed-use commercial and residential buildings.
Government of Canada
Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy
Recognized Federal Heritage Building
Theme - Category and Type
Function - Category and Type
- Armoury or Drill Hall
Architect / Designer
Richard T. Perry
Location of Supporting Documentation
National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec
Cross-Reference to Collection