Description of Historic Place
Constructed in 1911, the Niagara Falls Armoury is a magnificent two-storey red brick building with a limestone foundation, featuring a triple Tudor gothic arch at the front entrance. Based on medieval fortification and Gothic Revival design, the building occupies an important position at the southwest corner of Victoria Avenue and Armoury Street in Niagara Falls. The building is setback on the property to allow for a spacious front lawn.
The property was designated for its heritage value by the City of Niagara Falls under By-law 98-113.
The Niagara Falls Armoury was one of eleven drill halls built in Ontario between 1876 and 1918 to improve the Canadian military. The building was constructed in 1911 as part of a campaign to reform and expand the Active Volunteer Militia. This period of reform turned the Canadian militia from a poorly equipped citizens' militia into an organized, competent fighting unit that was well prepared for the first World War. The armoury functioned as a training and recruitment centre during World War I, and later for World War II and the Korean War. Upon its construction the Armoury served the Lincoln militia and when it amalgamated with Welland in 1935 it served the renamed Lincoln and Welland Militia.
The Armoury is also associated with Canada's chief military architect of the early 20th Century, T.W. Fuller (son of architect Thomas Fuller, architect of the first Parliament building in Ottawa and the Old Post Office in Niagara Falls). T.W. Fuller was inspired by his father's elaborate drill hall designs and based his own armouries on medieval fortresses.
The substantial architectural form of Gothic Revival greatly contributes to its powerful image. The building is constructed of red brick with a stone foundation, stone sills, window surrounds and decorative shields. All of the materials used in the construction came from local sources. The incorporation of a triple Tudor gothic arch and projecting surround at the front entrance gives a commanding impression and bestows an aura of importance to its function as a defence facility. Defence towers are simulated by the wall treatments which step out at the corners, and the walls incorporate buttresses, further adding to the image of stability and stateliness. The walls terminate in a parapet which includes a crenellated moulding to evoke the impression of a medieval castle. The use of corbelled stonework in various locations further adds to the articulation of the walls.
With its function as a location for military training and recruitment, the Niagara Falls Armoury contributed to the image of Niagara Falls as a major centre for the development of Canada's national defence system. Its prominent position on the street corner makes it a local landmark and a reminder of the city's important role in national defence.
Sources: By-law 98-113, Planning Department, City of Niagara Falls, 1998; Niagara Falls Armoury, Planning Department, City of Niagara Falls, 1998; “Exteriors”, Dave Gregory, Downtowner, 1999.
Character defining elements that reflect the heritage value of the Niagara Falls Armoury include its:
- use of architectural styling that offers a powerful image and reflects the federal presence in a local community
- division of interior space dedicated to specific uses: the drill hall, which doubled as an assembly hall, located on the upper floor of the armoury; the weapon's storage room on the first floor; the rifle range located in the basement
- local building materials, such as limestone from Queenston and brick from a local brickyard, consistent with other buildings of the same time period
- magnificent front entrance with a triple Tudor gothic arch
- buttresses, projecting corner bays and crenellated moulding on the parapets
- stone detailing on sills, lintels and coping
- original detailing such as the pilasters which add relief to the flat appearance of the brick facades
- upper levels of the facades which have cross windows with stone detailing, reflecting the medieval influence
- prominent setting of the building on a spacious corner lot
- siting amongst a collection of important heritage properties in the area
- magnificent shape and size, as a reminder of the role that the Armoury played in the defence of the country during various wars
Location of Supporting Documentation
Planning and Development,
4310 Queen Street,
City of Niagara Falls,
Ontario, L2E 6X5
Cross-Reference to Collection
Photographs taken from Niagara Falls Public Library Digital Collection