Recognized Federal Heritage Building
© Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, D. McArthur, 1991.
Fort Battleford National Historic Site of Canada, Battleford, Saskatchewan
Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
1884 to 1886
Event, Person, Organization:
Department of Public Works
FHBRO Report Reference:
Description of Historic Place
The Officers’ Quarters is situated at the Fort Battleford National Historic Site of Canada, on the outskirts of the town of Battleford. This two-storey timber structure is of domestic scale. It features a central entrance, regularly placed windows and a mansard roof with dormer windows. The white-painted clapboard exterior is enlivened with decorative elements along the roof edge and window tops. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Officers’ Quarters is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Officers’ Quarters is one of the best examples of a structure associated with law, order and administration in the North West Territories, and particularly with the role of the Mounted Police in the settlement of the Prairie frontier. The structure provides an insight into the internal organization at a divisional outpost of the frontier era. As the sole survivor of the buildings that once bordered the parade square, it also recalls the military nature of the early police force. The building is one of five structures within Fort Battleford National Historic Site of Canada, which was established by the federal government in 1951.
The Officers’ Quarters is valued for its good aesthetic design. It combines the stylistic influences from Eastern Canada with local materials and Red River frame technology. Shingles and embellishments made of wood are evocative of a pioneer origin. Very good functional design is evidenced in the manner the interior has adapted to accommodate different uses. Good craftsmanship can be seen in the mansard roof and the exterior detailing.
The Officers’ Quarters reinforces the historic character of Fort Battleford National Historic Site of Canada and is a familiar landmark to residents and to visitors.
Sources: James de Jonge, Five Buildings, Fort Battleford National Historic Park, Battleford, Saskatchewan, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Building Report 89-010; Officers’ Quarters, Fort Battleford National Historic Site, Battleford, Saskatchewan, Heritage Character Statement 89-010.
The character-defining elements of the Officers’ Quarters should be respected.
Its good aesthetics, very good functional design and good quality materials and craftsmanship, for example: the simple, two-storey massing of the building; the mansard roof with its dormer windows; the Red River frame construction and clapboard covered exterior walls that are painted white; the two-over-two windows; the exterior decorative elements.
The manner in which the Officers’ Quarters reinforces the historic character of the fort and is a well-known local landmark, as evidenced by: its simple design and materials that harmonize with the Commanding Officer’s Residence and other buildings within the historic fort setting; its role as an important component of the group of surviving structures from the Fort Battleford National Historic Site of Canada that has made it familiar to 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.