Classified Federal Heritage Building
© Archives of Ontario / Archives publiques de l'Ontario, ca./vers 1920.
Queenston Heights National Historic Site of Canada, Queenston, Queenston, Ontario
Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
1853 to 1856
Event, Person, Organization:
FHBRO Report Reference:
Description of Historic Place
Set in landscaped park grounds, Brock’s Monument dominates the view from Queenston Heights over the Niagara River. Constructed of stone, this outstanding example of Neoclassical design is a beautifully detailed and proportioned composition featuring a 4,8 metre (16 foot) statue of Major General Sir Isaac Brock atop a classical fluted column. The column rises from an elaborate pedestal anchored on a rusticated square base. Trophies of classical armour stand at the corners of a low enclosing wall. Four figures symbolizing victory adorn the column’s capital. An interior stone staircase leads to a viewing deck at the top. A crypt beneath the monument contains the bodies of General Brock and Colonel MacDonnell. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Brock’s Monument is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
Brock’s Monument is one of the best examples of a structure associated, through both its symbolism and its own history as a structure, with the emergence of Canada as a distinct nation. Sir Isaac Brock was killed at the Battle of Queenston Heights on October 13, 1812, at the defeat of the invading American forces and is therefore considered to be the founding hero of Upper Canada. The elegant monument replaces an earlier monument to the same event, dated 1823, but destroyed in 1840 by one of the participants in the rebellion of 1837, who had objected to its Tory associations. The 1853 monument was funded by public subscription from all parts of upper Canadian society. It was thus a monument to the strongly nationalist Canadian sentiments of the 1850s.
Valued for its excellent aesthetic design, Brock’s Monument is an outstanding example of Neoclassical design. The memorial column is one of the largest and most elaborate examples in Canada, and one of the tallest in the world. The monument is one of few in Canada that can be entered. The slender structure exhibits excellent functional design, as it remains upright, resisting both the compressive force of its own mass, and also the forces of nature. The interior houses a gallery space and a stone staircase that leads to the viewing deck at the top of the monument. The excellent workmanship and materials are exemplified by the high quality masonry executed by contractor J. Worthington. Skillful stone carving is seen in the many sculptured elements. The designer William Thomas, 1800-1860, was a leading Canadian Neoclassical architect of the time.
Brock’s Monument establishes the historic character of Queenston Heights Park. A landmark of major importance, it dominates the Niagara escarpment. It can be seen for miles around and is regional landmark to the local community and visitors from around the world.
Sources: Joan Mattie, Brock’s Monument, Queenston Heights, Queenston, Ontario, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Building Report 89-018; Brock’s Monument, Queenston, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 89-018.
The character-defining elements of Brock’s Monument should be respected.
Its excellent aesthetics, its functional design and quality materials and craftsmanship, for example: the monument’s tall, elegant form and geometric massing which consists of a tall circular column on a square base; the highly ordered, balanced Neoclassical composition; the upper section of the monument, a Composite order fluted column that rises to a highly worked capital, the volutes comprising four outward facing figures symbolizing victory, and above on a pedestal, the 4,8 metre (sixteen-foot) figure of Brock; the square basement of rusticated stone with an inset, heavy oak door set with bronze patterae, the three progressively smaller pedestals that extend upward, each with moulded caps and treated with different sculptural effects; the construction material of local Queenston limestone; at the base of the monument, military trophies of classical armour stand at the corners of a low, enclosing wall set on a slightly elevated platform; the many sculptured elements including the military trophies, the rampant lions, the bas reliefs, the elaborate capital on the column, and the other flutings and mouldings that grace the monument; the interior gallery space that runs around the perimeter of the inner pedestal, which holds the staircase; the circular staircase of 235 stone blocks lighted by loophole openings placed at intervals that lead to the viewing deck at the top of the monument; the crypt under the floor sealed by granite slabs that contains the entombed bodies of General Brock and Colonel MacDonnell;
The manner in which Brock’s Monument establishes the historic character of Queenston Heights National Historic Site of Canada and is a symbolic and well-known landmark of the region, as evidenced by: its elegant Neoclassical design and materials that harmonize with the landscaped park setting; its role as the main component commemorating the battle of Queenston Heights, which makes it a symbolic, regional landmark, and its tall, stately profile that rises above the escarpment and is visible for miles, and is well-known 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.
Brock's Monument commemorating Major General Sir Isaac Brock was erected in 1853 on the site of the 1812 Battle of Queenston Heights. The result of a competition, it was designed by William Thomas (1800-1860), a leading Canadian Neoclassical architect and engineer of the time, and built by J. Worthington, a contractor of Toronto. The Environment Canada Parks Service is the custodian of the monument. See FHBRO Building Report 89-18.
Reasons for Designation
This monument was designated Classified because of its association with the commemoration of an event of prime significance in the founding of Canada and because of its architectural design.
Sir Isaac Brock was killed at the Battle of Queenston Heights on October 13, 1812, at the defeat of the invading American forces and is therefore considered to be the founding hero of Upper Canada. The monument replaces an earlier nearby monument to the same event, dated 1823, but destroyed in 1840 by one of the participants in the Rebellion of 1837, who had objected to its Tory associations. The 1853 monument was funded by public subscription from all parts of Upper Canadian society. It was thus a monument to the strongly nationalist Canadian sentiments of the 1850s.
Brock's Monument remains close to its original form, unique in Canada to this day, in excellent condition and an outstanding example of Neoclassical design. It is a major historic element of the Niagara Falls park system.
Character Defining Elements
The heritage character resides in the entirety of the monument, its composition, proportions, fine sculptural details, construction material - local Queenston limestone - and its surrounding terrace and landscape.
The composition includes a platform slightly elevated above the surrounding landscaped grounds which is enclosed within a dwarf wall. The corners of the wall are adorned with stylized figure-like statues. The monument itself rises from a basement of rusticated stone into which a heavy oak door with bronze patterae is set. This square base is surmounted by three other segments, each separated by moulded caps and treated with different sculptural effects. Above this, another base rises to form a transition between the square volume below and the round circumference of the massive fluted column above. The most sculptural portion of the monument is the highly worked capital and the stone statue of Brock mounted on a short pedestal above that. The interior houses a gallery space and a stone block circular staircase that leads to the viewing deck at the top of the monument.
All elements of this heritage structure should be carefully preserved. A regular maintenance program developed by a stone conservation specialist would contribute to the longevity of this historic monument.
Brock's Monument dominates the view of the Niagara escarpment from many directions. The visual axis should not be compromised. The surrounding park development which complements the monumental aspect of the structure should be maintained. Introduction of new elements in the landscape should respect the heritage character of the site.