Commanding Officer's Residence
Classified Federal Heritage Building
© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, T. Verishine, 2002.
Fort Battleford National Historic Site of Canada, Battleford, Saskatchewan
Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
1876 to 1876
Event, Person, Organization:
Department of Public Works
Commanding Officer's Residence
FHBRO Report Reference:
Description of Historic Place
The Commanding Officer’s Residence is prominently situated on the grounds of Fort Battleford National Historic Site of Canada, in Saskatchewan. It is a modestly scaled, two-storey, wood frame house designed on an L-shaped plan and topped by a gabled-roof with decorative gable-end trefoils and bargeboards. The building features an off-centred main entrance and multi-paned windows that are topped by gable drip moldings. The official recognition refers to the footprint of the building.
The Commanding Officer’s Residence is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Commanding Officer’s Residence is one of the best examples of a structure associated with the role of the North West Mounted Police in the settlement of the Prairie frontier during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The building's singular design illustrates an important facet of the lifestyle at divisional outposts during this period. Built in 1876, it is also closely associated with the founding era of the post and the establishment of the Town of Battleford. The residence has been occupied by a succession of Mounted Police officers, most notably the legendary commander Samuel Benfield Steele, a figure of national historical significance.
The Commanding Officer’s Residence is a very good example of a late 19th century federally designed building on the Prairies. It combines the stylistic influences from Eastern Canada with local materials and Red River frame technology. Its very good functional design is evident in its interior layout: an original side-hall plan that has evolved in response to occupants’ needs. Decorative features such as the gable-end trefoils, bargeboard, bay window, and the decorative treatment of structural openings attest to the building’s good craftsmanship.
The Commanding Officer’s Residence is the most prominent feature at Fort Battleford National Historic Site of Canada. Located on spacious grounds, the building reinforces the present character of its fort setting and is a familiar landmark in the region.
Sources: J. de Jonge, Fort Battleford National Historic Site of Canada Commanding Officer’s Residence, Fort Battleford, Saskatchewan, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Building Report 89-010; Fort Battleford National Historic Site of Canada Commanding Officer’s Residence, Fort Battleford, Saskatchewan, Heritage Character Statement, 89-010.
The character-defining elements of the Commanding Officer’s Residence should be respected.
Its very good aesthetic and functional design and good quality materials and craftsmanship, for example: its present configuration, and all extant fabric and detailing derived from the full period of Mounted Police force occupancy; its Eastern Canadian standard in residential design, namely its two storeys, gable roof and L-shaped plan; the decorative gable-end trefoils and bargeboard, bay window, and decorative treatment of structural openings; the interior layout, which is typical of the late 19th century; the summer kitchen and verandah additions, which respect the clarity of the original form and demonstrate how the dwelling evolved in response to occupants’ needs; its regional influence emerging in the use of local building materials, primarily wood, and Red River frame technology.
The manner in which the Commanding Officer’s Residence reinforces the historic character of the fort and is a well-known landmark in the region, as evidenced by: its simple design and materials that harmonize with the Officers’ Quarters and other buildings within the historic fort setting; its role as an important and prominent component of the group of surviving structures at Fort Battleford National Historic Site of Canada that has made it a familiar landmark for locals and visitors.
Heritage Character Statement
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 Commanding Officer's Residence was built in 1876, to plans prepared by the federal Department of Public Works, and served its intended function until the post was abandoned in 1924. The residence is one among five original structures located at Fort Battleford National Historic Site. The custodian is Environment Canada. See FHBRO Building Report 89-10.
Reason for Designation
The Commanding Officer's Residence was designated Classified due to its outstanding historical value. It commemorates the role of the Mounted Police force in the settlement of the Prairie frontier and particularly, in the establishment of the Town of Battleford. Samuel Benfield Steele, a legendary commander and an historical figure of national significance, once occupied the premises. The building's singular design illustrates an importance facet of the lifestyle at divisional outposts of the frontier era.
Character Defining Elements
The heritage character of this property is defined by its present configuration, and by all extant fabric and detailing derived from the full period of Mounted Police force occupancy.
As conceived, the structure reflected the prevailing Eastern Canadian standard in residential design: two storeys, gable roof, L-shaped plan. The summer kitchen and verandah additions respect the clarity of the original form. They demonstrate how the dwelling evolved in response to occupant's needs and should be retained.
Features such as the gable-end trefoils, bargeboard, bay window, and the decorative treatment of structural openings were also an expression of the Eastern Canadian ideal and reinforce the notion of stylistic integrity.
A regional influence emerges in the use of local building materials, primarily wood, and Red River frame technology. This distinctive structural system, as well as remnants of early wall claddings which may be hidden from view, should be carefully protected.
The interior layout, typical of the late 19th century, survives essentially intact. The interior fabric, however, is comprised of disparate elements and materials. It is recommended that the significance of the various constituents be carefully assessed and that modifications which compromise evolutionary evidence be avoided.
The Commanding Officer's Residence is the most prominent feature at Fort Battleford NHS. Its orientation is a function of the post's original site plan and suggests to the observer that circulation patterns have changed. Given the spacious quality of the surroundings, an informal approach to the landscape would produce a more evocative setting.