Description of Historic Place
The Armoury sits prominently on generous grounds on its streetscape in Thunder Bay. It is a two-storey, gable-roofed drill hall whose form and detailing conjure up the image of a fortress through the incorporation of crenellated turrets, varied parapet profiles and a low, wide arched entrance that leads to the large, rectangular drill hall. The building’s smooth, red brick, load bearing exterior walls, set on a stone foundation wall, feature horizontal stone banding, deeply recessed windows and arch-headed arcading. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Armoury is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.
The Armoury is associated with the provision of drill halls for the active volunteer Militia in Canada, specifically under Sam Hughes, Minister of Militia and Defence from 1911 to 1916. He expedited the program of armoury construction initiated by Frederick Borden and instigated the development of standard plans to aid in the efficient implementation of an intensive armoury building program. The Armoury reflects a government policy to supply arms to all militias and to construct good local training facilities.
The Armoury is valued for its good aesthetic and functional design. It reflects the influence of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and exhibits a monumental style using medieval military motifs. Built to standard plans, following departmental guidelines, the armoury is functionally organized with ancillary spaces around the drill hall. The structural design, employing steel trusses, allows the use of large glazed areas between piers, a characteristic feature of pre-First World War armoury design and representative of the development of the Canadian drill hall.
The Armoury is compatible with the present character of its streetscape setting in Thunder Bay and is a well-known building in the region.
Sources: Armoury, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Building Report, (SCR) 94-022; Armoury, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 94-022.
The character-defining elements of the Armoury should be respected.
Its good aesthetic and functional design, and good craftsmanship and materials, for example:
- the simple massing that consists of a two-storey gable-roofed drill hall, a two-storey front block and a three-storey flat-roofed rear addition;
- the two-storey front block and frontispiece with a slightly projecting entrance bay, a wide arched entrance, corner turrets, varied parapet profiles and prominent chimneys;
- the smooth, load bearing exterior walls with deeply recessed windows and arch-headed arcading;
- the horizontal bands of sleek stone work, the split-faced stone foundation wall and specific features such as the stylised coping crenellations, doorway labels and shields, and the bartizan above the entrance which indicate the military function of the building;
- the large open volume of the drill hall with exposed steel trusses and expansive glazing.
The manner in which the Armoury is compatible with the present character of its streetscape setting in Thunder Bay and is a well-known landmark in the region, as evidenced by:
- its scale, high standards of construction and materials, which are compatible with its streetscape surroundings;
- its large scale and prominent location, which makes it a landmark in the community.