Superintendent's House

Recognized Federal Heritage Building

Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
View of the exterior of the Superintendent's House, showing the two-and-a-half-storey massing, and the gable roof with chimneys, 1985. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1985.
General view
© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1985.
View of a façade of the Superintendent's House, showing the exterior walls of random coursed sandstone, 1985. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1985.View of the exterior of the Superintendent's House, showing the two-and-a-half-storey massing, and the gable roof with chimneys, 1985. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1985.
Address : Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site of Canada, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

Recognition Statute: Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
Designation Date: 1986-06-10
Dates:
  • 1896 to 1896 (Construction)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • J.B. Spense  (Architect)
  • Department of Railways and Canals  (Architect)
Other Name(s):
  • Canal Buildings: Superintendent's House  (Other Name)
Custodian: Parks Canada
FHBRO Report Reference: 85-07
DFRP Number: 11878 00

Description of Historic Place

The Superintendent’s House is set amongst a group of buildings located on St. Mary’s Island, which is bisected by the Sault Ste. Marie Canal. The two-and-a-half-storey stone building has a gable roof with a decorative bargeboard, regularly placed windows and doors with stone surrounds. An open porch protects the main entrance. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Superintendent’s House is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.

Historical Value:
The Superintendent’s House is a good example of a building associated with the construction and operation of the Sault Ste. Marie Canal, commencing in 1889, and illustrates the theme of the development of the Canada’s transportation network during the later 19th century. The first ship passed through the locks at the Sault in September 1895, and most of the canal buildings were completed by 1896. The complex of buildings illustrates the crucial years when Sault Ste. Marie was transformed from a small community into a modern industrial centre.

Architectural Value:
Valued for its good aesthetics, the Superintendent’s House is a late example of a building inspired by the Gothic Revival style. The massing, design and good functional interior arrangement of the Superintendent’s House reflects the important social position of the Superintendent in Sault Ste. Marie society. Very good craftsmanship and materials is seen in the exterior masonry and in the decorative bargeboard.

Environmental Value:
The Superintendent’s House maintains an unchanged relationship to its site, reinforces the historic character of its canal-side setting at the Sault Ste. Marie National Historic Site of Canada, and is a symbolic regional landmark.

Sources: Sally Coutts, Sault Ste. Marie Canal Buildings, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Building Report 85-007; Canal Buildings: Superintendent’s Residence, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 85-007.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Superintendent’s House should be respected.

Its good aesthetic, good functional design and very good quality craftsmanship and materials, for example: the two-and-a-half-storey massing, and the gable roof with chimneys; the exterior walls of random coursed sandstone; the placement of the windows and doors; the limestone quoins and window and door surrounds; the decorative bargeboard trim; the small wooden addition to the rear of the house; the interior configuration.

The manner in which the Superintendent’s House maintains an unchanged relationship to its site reinforces character of its canal-side setting within the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site of Canada and is a symbolic, regional landmark, as evidenced by: its location on a simple, open site overlooking the canal; its overall scale, design and materials, which harmonize with the other buildings in the lock complex and its canal side surroundings; its visibility, due to its prominent location adjacent to the canal that is used for recreational purposes, which makes it a regional landmark.

Heritage Character Statement

Disclaimer - The heritage character statement was developed by FHBRO to explain the reasons for the designation of a federal heritage building and what it is about the building that makes it significant (the heritage character). It is a key reference document for anyone involved in planning interventions to federal heritage buildings and is used by FHBRO in their review of interventions.

The Superintendent's House was built in 1896 by J. and R. Miller, contractors from Ingersoll, Ontario to designs prepared aby the Department of Railways and Canals signed by J.B. Spence, Chief Draftsman. It was Recognized because of its good design, its very good craftsmanship and its reinforcing influence on the present character of the area.

HISTORICAL ASSOCIATIONS
Since the days of the fur trade, Canada's transportation system has operated on an east-west axis. The St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes provided Canada's original "highway" stretching from the Atlantic into the heart of the continent. Later, canals and railroads were built to improve communication and travel but the basic east-west axis was maintained. The development of the transportation network across the country is one of the dominant themes of Canadian history. Construction of the Sault Ste. Marie Canal did not begin until 1889. The first ship passed through the locks at the Sault in September 1895, and most of the canal buildings were completed by 1896. The complex of buildings illustrates the crucial years when Sault Ste. Marie was transformed from a small community into a modern industrial centre.

ARCHITECTURE
The superintendent's House is a one-and-a-half cross gable roofed structure of red sandstone quarried from the canal during its construction. The building appears to have a small wooden addition, but the original plans indicate that both portions of the building were constructed at the same time. The house originally had a large verandah located across the south facade but his has been removed. The quoins, window and door surrounds are limestone from Picton, Ontario. The gable ends of the building feature bargeboard trim of a type produced in factories and widely distributed in the 1890s. The design of the Superintendent's House is inspired by the Gothic Revival Style although by 1896, the year of construction, this style's popularity was on the wane. The massing, design and interior arrangement of the Superintendent's House reflects the important social position of the Superintendent in Sault Ste. Marie society.

ENVIRONMENT
The integrity of the relationship between the complex of buildings at the Sault Ste. Marie Canal and its associated landscape has remained virtually unchanged since the buildings were constructed. Located on St. Mary's Island, which the canal bisects, they are set apart from the town of Sault Ste. Marie. The present use of the Sault Ste. Marie Canal for recreational purposes contributes to the character of the shore line across the bay, just as its former use as a busy commercial canal complimented use of the shore as a centre of transportation.