Recognized Federal Heritage Building
© Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, D. McArthur, 1991.
Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
1887 to 1887
Event, Person, Organization:
Thomas Fuller, Chief Architect, Department of Public Works
Fort Battleford NHSC
FHBRO Report Reference:
Description of Historic Place
The Guard House is situated at the Fort Battleford National Historic Site of Canada, located on the outskirts of the town of Battleford. The simple timber building is a gable-roofed, balloon framed building. The two principal elevations have a doorway, a large window, and smaller, high set windows. Steel bars are placed across some of the windows. White-painted clapboard clads the building’s exterior. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Guard House is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Guard House is one of the best examples of a building associated with the presence of the North-West Mounted Police on the Prairie frontier during the late 19th century and early 20th century. The Guard House reflects the paramilitary character of the force, as well as its role of law enforcement among the civilian population. 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 Guard House, which is valued for its good aesthetic design, is typical of the balloon frame structures erected at Mounted Police posts in the North-West during the latter decades of the 19th century. The Guard House employs a basic form that was tailored to specific functions by altering the external dimensions and the arrangement of door and window openings. The Guard House represents one variation of the standardized model for Mounted Police guard houses, although it is the only one known to have survived. The structure exhibits very good functional design in its role as a lock up and guard room, and its present condition attests to its good materials.
The Guard House reinforces the historic character of Fort Battleford National Historic Site of Canada and is a familiar landmark to residents and to visitors.
James de Jonge, Five Buildings, Fort Battleford National Historic Park, Battleford, Saskatchewan, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Building Report 89-010;Guard House, Fort Battleford National Historic Site of Canada, Battleford, Saskatchewan, Heritage Character Statement 89-010.
The character-defining elements of the Guard House should be respected.
Its good aesthetics, very good functional design and good quality materials and craftsmanship, for example: the simple, single-storey massing of the rectangular building; the gable roof covered in wood shingles; the balloon frame construction and exterior walls of clapboard; the spacing of the door and window openings, the multi-paned windows and the steel bars over some of the windows.
The manner in which the Guard House 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 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 complex that makes 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 Guard House, built in 1887, is one of five remaining buildings at the Battleford Post constructed by the North-West Mounted Police. The guard house was used until 1917, when all prisoners were transferred to provincial jails. The design of the Guard House can be attributed to the Department of Public Works during the tenure of Thomas Fuller as Chief Architect. The building has been moved from its original site. Restoration work was undertaken on the building after 1946. The Guard House is one of the focal points of Fort Battleford National Historic Site, which was established by the federal government in 1951. The custodian is Parks Canada. See FHBRO Building Report 89-10.
Reasons for Designation
The Guard House was designated Recognized because of its historical associations, its functional design and its environmental value.
The Guard House is part of a complex of buildings that is closely related to the presence of the North-West Mounted Police on the Prairie frontier during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It reflects the paramilitary character of the force, as well as its role in carrying out law and order among the civilian population.
Typical of the balloon frame buildings erected at Mounted Police posts in the North-West Territories during the latter decades of the 19th century, the guard house employs a basic form that was tailored to specific functions by altering the external dimensions and the arrangement of door and window openings. The Guard House represents one variation of the standardized model for Mounted Police guard houses, although it is the only one known to have survived.
The Guard House and other buildings on the reserve evoke a militaristic image. The open, natural character of the reserve provides an environment sympathetic to the image intended to be conveyed by the National Historic Park.
Character Defining Elements
The heritage character of the Guard House resides in its massing, proportions, construction, use of materials and interior plan.
The building consists of a single-storey, gable-roofed structure with a rectangular plan. The clapboard siding and wood-shingle roof were materials commonly used for police post buildings.
The arrangement of the door and window openings, and the presence of steel bars over the windows, identify the building as a guard house. The north and south elevations are mirror images of each other. The doorway and large window in the western portion correspond to the guard room, while the three high windows on the eastern portion correspond to the cell block. Although functional requirements largely dictated the exterior appearance, the building is enlivened by corbelled chimneys at either end, and by eared mouldings around the windows and doors. The careful, even spacing of the apertures is in keeping with the building's modest appearance. Any interventions should respect the original design intention and materials of the building.
The layout of the building effectively provides two functions - a secure lock-up for prisoners and a large room used by the guards. Partitions, doors and hardware which date from the period of occupancy by the Mounted Police should be preserved.
The building's immediate environs have an open, unadorned character which is similar to their original appearance. Any intervention in the landscape should respect this open character and resist an overly groomed appearance.