Armoury

Classified Federal Heritage Building

Kingston, Ontario
General view of the Armoury, showing its picturesque detailing carried around all sides, embellishing the essentially warehouse-like form of the Armoury, 1988. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, J. Adell, 1988.
General view
© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, J. Adell, 1988.
General view of the Armoury, showing its picturesque detailing carried around all sides, embellishing the essentially warehouse-like form of the Armoury, 1988. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, J. Adell, 1988.Façade of the Armoury, showing the prominent three-storey projecting frontispiece, consisting of a troop door and two flanking stair towers, 1989. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, J. Adell, 1989.
Address : 100 Montreal Street, Artillery Park, Kingston, Ontario

Recognition Statute: Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
Designation Date: 1989-08-31
Dates:
  • 1899 to 1900 (Construction)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Thomas Fuller  (Architect)
  • Department of Public Works  (Architect)
Other Name(s):
  • Kingston Drill Hall  (Other Name)
Custodian: National Defence
FHBRO Report Reference: 88-139
DFRP Number: 09446 00

Description of Historic Place

Located in a residential and commercial district in the former Royal Artillery Park, the Armoury, also known as the Kingston Drill Hall, is a two-storey, heavy stone structure. A long principal façade articulated by a prominent three-storey projecting frontispiece, serves as the main entrance and consists of a troop door and two flanking stair towers. There are two rows of evenly spaced, deeply set windows along the long wall, crenels across the frontispiece, and large decorative corbels around the side towers. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Armoury is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.

Historical Value
The Armoury is a very good illustration of drill halls built to support an expanded role for the militia, by providing local training facilities for their use. It is of one of the largest and best equipped of the battalion drill halls constructed by the federal government between 1896 and 1911. The Armoury is also significant for its role as the headquarters of the 1863 Princess of Wales Own Regiment, one of the oldest regiments in Canada.

Architectural Value
The Armoury is an excellent example of aesthetic and functional design featuring medieval revival features and picturesque qualities. Its picturesque medieval revival features are derived in simplified form from the Halifax Drill Hall designed by Thomas Fuller, which served as an architectural prototype for the Public Works design staff under his supervision. It is characterized by its functional plan, modern structural design and its medieval revival features.

Environmental Value
A focal point of the local area, the Armoury maintains a position along Montreal Street defining one side of what is left of the Royal Artillery Park. Along with the former barracks on its other side, it defines a limited precinct of important military character. A number of 19th-century stone buildings, including houses, a church and some commercial buildings, unite with the drill hall to establish and enhance the character of the residential neighbourhood that it helped establish. It is a well-known structure whose site, near the centre of the town overlooking the remnants of the Royal Artillery Park gives the building a relatively high visibility and its civic space is often used for community activities.

Sources: Jacqueline Adell, Armoury , Montreal Street, Kingston, Ontario, Federal Heritage Building Report 88-139; Kingston Drill Hall, Montreal Street, Kingston, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement, 88-139.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Armoury should be respected.

Its aesthetic and functional plan, modern structural design and medieval revival features as manifested in: its two-storey, heavy stone structure with a long, centrally located principal façade articulated by a prominent three-storey projecting frontispiece, consisting of a troop door and two flanking stair towers, and balanced by two smaller towers located at the junction of the front and side walls enriched with castle-like crenelations and corbels at parapet level; its principal façade executed in rough-faced and random coursed Trenton limestone and its picturesque detailing carried around all sides, embellishing the essentially warehouse-like form of the Armoury; its wooden windows of varying sizes and shapes set deeply into limestone walls, playing a significant part in establishing the buildings romantic character; the layout and design of the Armoury, with offices, messes, and armouries set around three sides of a galleried open hall; the iron fink trusses over the drill hall typically employed in turn of the century armouries, which allow for large, open spaces.

The manner in which the Armoury establishes the character of its residential neighbourhood setting.

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 Kingston Drill Hall was built in 1899-1900 to designs prepared by the Department of Public Works under the supervision of Chief Architect T.W. Fuller. In 1936 an extension was built to the south, above the original gun shed. The Drill Hall is the property of the Department of National Defence. See FHBRO Building Report 88-139.


Reasons for Designation

The building was designated Classified for its important historical associations, its architectural qualities, and its environmental significance.

The Kingston Drill Hall is associated with an important theme in Canadian history, and with a regimental group of particular regional importance. The Drill Hall is one of the largest and best equipped of the battalion drill halls constructed by the federal government in the period from 1896 to 1911. It was built to support an expanded role for the militia, by providing local training facilities for their use. The Drill Hall is now the headquarters of the 1863 Princess of Wales' Own Regiment, one of the oldest regiments in Canada. The Drill Hall's architectural importance derives primarily from the quality of its aesthetic and functional design. It is one of the most picturesque of the 17 halls surviving from the period of construction noted above. The Kingston building's medieval revival features are derived, in simplified form, from the Halifax Drill Hall (1895-97), which served here as an architectural prototype for the Public Works design staff.

The Drill Hall plays an important role in establishing the heritage character of the neighbourhood.


Character Defining Elements

The heritage character of the Kingston Drill Hall resides primarily in its medieval revival design, its plan, and the pattern and character of access to the hall.

The principal façade of the Drill Hall is executed in rough-faced and random coursed Trenton limestone from the St-Marc-des-Carrières area outside Québec City. The elevation is delineated by a regular arrangement consisting of a three storey central pavilion and flanking two storey wings and corner towers, themselves enriched with castle-like crenellations and corbels at parapet level.

Picturesque detailing is carried around all sides, embellishing the essentially shed-like form of the Drill Hall. The centrally located principal entrance and its tunnel-like entry to the main hall are important characteristics of the building which should be maintained. Wooden windows of varying sizes and shapes, set deeply into limestone walls, play a significant part in establishing the building's romantic character.

The extension to the south, built in 1936, though carefully matched to the original north elevation, obscures a group of five original, semi-circular headed windows. Consideration should be given in future planning to the possibility of re-admitting light to these windows, if feasible, while retaining the bulk of the 1936 addition.

The layout and design of the Drill Hall, with offices, messes and armories set around three sides of a galleried open hall, have been fully maintained to date. This plan is an important part of the building's character, and should be retained. The iron Fink trusses over the Drill Hall were typically employed in turn of the century drill halls to span large spaces, and are an important element in this space.

Though the Royal Artillery Park - on which the Drill Hall was built - has essentially ceased to exist, the relationship between the building and its original site is relatively intact. With the nearby Barracks' Building #2, Artillery Park, the Drill Hall defines a limited precinct of important military character. Though affected by the loss of military structures of similar age and by construction of contrasting modern buildings, the Drill Hall continues to enhance the character of the surrounding residential neighbourhood, which it helped establish. It is important that the remaining visual relationships with adjacent military buildings of the same era be maintained or strengthened.