Royal Canadian Air Force Cottage (B16)

Recognized Federal Heritage Building

Riding Mountain National Park of Canada, Manitoba
View of the Royal Canadian Air Force Cottage, showing the peeled log walls and shingled roof with chimney, 1984. (© Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, 1984.)
General view
(© Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, 1984.)
Address : Deep Bay, Riding Mountain National Park of Canada, Manitoba

Recognition Statute: Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
Designation Date: 1988-11-17
Dates:
  • 1934 to 1934 (Construction)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Architectural Division, National Parks Branch  (Architect)
Other Name(s):
  • RCAF Pilot's Residence  (Other Name)
  • Building B16  (Other Name)
Custodian: Parks Canada
FHBRO Report Reference: 85-54
DFRP Number: 12897 00

Description of Historic Place

The secluded Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Cottage, also known as Building B16, sits protected by forest cover, on the lakefront at Clear Lake, two kilometers from Wasagaming townsite in Riding Mountain National Park of Canada. It is a one-storey building of log and stone in the rustic style. Its two projecting gabled wings create a modified L-shaped structure. It has a medium pitched hipped roof and details of stucco and half timbering. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The RCAF Cottage at Clear Lake is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.

Historical value:
The RCAF Cottage is associated with the development of Canada’s National Park system and early Canadian tourism. It is a very good example of a facility associated with the brief phase of RCAF forest surveillance in Riding Mountain National Park of Canada (RMNP). The residence was constructed to accommodate pilots operating an aerial patrol service during periods of forest fire hazard. It was constructed as a Public Works project using Depression-relief funding shortly after the Park was established in 1930.The wardens enforced laws and regulations in the park; this was rendered more important in the case of RMNP as the Park is surrounded by agricultural land.

Architectural value:
The RCAF Cottage is one of four log residences built at RMNP in 1933-1934. This building typifies the architectural theme, construction practices and craftsmanship evident in buildings designed by the Architectural Division and erected in the Park during the Depression relief period. It is a good functional structure in an informal style that was perceived as harmonious with a park setting.

Environmental value:
The RCAF Cottage remains secluded in its historically intact setting. The small bay on the south shore of Clear Lake provided a sheltered anchorage for RCAF floatplanes. Emphasizing natural building materials, the RCAF Cottage reinforces the dramatic natural setting.

Sources:
The RCAF Pilots’ Residence, Deep Bay, Clear Lake, Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba. Heritage Character Statement 85-054; The RCAF Pilots’ Residence, Deep Bay, Clear Lake, Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 85-054.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements RCAF Cottage should be respected.

Its rustic style and good quality materials and craftsmanship, for example: the simple, low massing of the one-storey structure; the rectangular plan with two projecting gabled wings, the gable ends with milled fascia boards, the exposed log purlins, prominent crowns at the corner joints and a shingled roof with chimney; the peeled log walls that are saddle-notched at the corners, the exposed rafter ends, and the screened front verandah that extends along the front of the living room; the multi-pane casement windows; the prominent random-course stone facing at the foundation.

The manner in which the RCAF Cottage reinforces the picturesque character of its lakeside setting within Riding Mountain National Park of Canada as evidenced by: the emphasis on natural building materials; its dramatic situation in a secluded, natural setting on a small bay on the south shore of Clear Lake.

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 RCAF Pilots' Residence was built in 1934 to designs by the Architectural Division of the Parks Branch. Erected to accommodate pilots operating an aerial patrol service in Riding Mountain National Park during periods of forest fire hazard, the residence remained in use for this purpose until the late 1930s. More recently, the building has been used intermittently as a seasonal residence for staff of the Canadian Wildlife Service. Parks Canada is the custodian. See FHBRO Building Report 85-43.

Reasons for Designation
The RCAF Pilots' Residence was designated Recognized for its architectural and environmental merit, and also for its historical associations.
One of four log residences built at Riding Mountain National Park in 1933 and 1934, this building typifies the architectural theme, construction practices and craftsmanship evident in buildings designed by the Architectural Division and erected in the park during the Depression relief period.

The Pilots' Residence boasts an attractive lakefront site protected by forest cover. It is near the south shore of Clear Lake, where a small bay initially known as Aeroplane Bay offered a sheltered anchorage for RCAF floatplanes.

The Pilots' Residence is the only facility directly associated with the brief phase of RCAF surveillance in the National Parks System.

Character Defining Elements
The heritage character of the Pilots' Residence resides in its massing, materials, construction details and site.

The building has a modified "L" plan, constructed of peeled logs horizontally laid and saddle-notched. The high hipped roof covers a screened front verandah that extends along the front of the building. This simple massing should not be altered.

Features which create the building's rustic appearance include its combination of highly textured natural materials (log, stone, wood shingles, stucco) with equally textural design elements such as exposed peeled-log rafter tails, milled fascia boards with exposed log purlins, prominent crowns at the corner joints, multi-pane windows, prominent stone facing at the foundation, and mock half-timbering in the gables. The mock half-timbering is a typical Tudor reference, as are the casement windows arranged in groups of three. All of these features are integral to the style and character of the building and should not be altered. Any repairs should be predicated on maximum retention of original material, and the same level of craftsmanship and care taken as is evident in the original work. The roof was probably finished in wood shingles; when re-roofing is required, consideration should be given to completing the rustic effect of the building by reinstating this material.

Appropriate finishes for the exterior should be confirmed through paint analysis.

The original interior plan was a simple arrangement of three spaces: living room/office, kitchen, and bedroom. The clarity of this plan should be respected, and any early finishes and fixtures identified and retained.

Landscaping should be simple and domestic in character, in keeping with the treatment seen in historic photographs.