Defensible Lockmaster's House

Recognized Federal Heritage Building

Rideau Canal National Historic Site, Ontario
Façade of the Jones Falls Defensible Lockmaster's House, showing the simple, compact, one-storey massing, 1989. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1989.
Façade
© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1989.
Corner view of the Jones Falls Defensible Lockmaster's House, showing the frame defensible porch, 1989. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1989.Corner view of the Jones Falls Defensible Lockmaster's House, showing the exterior walls, constructed of rough-faced masonry blocks, 1989. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1989.Façade of the Jones Falls Defensible Lockmaster's House, showing the simple, compact, one-storey massing, 1989. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1989.
Address : Jones Falls - Lock 40, Rideau Canal National Historic Site, Ontario

Recognition Statute: Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
Designation Date: 1990-08-16
Dates:
  • 1841 to 1841 (Construction)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Royal Engineers  (Architect)
Other Name(s):
  • Sweeney House  (Other Name)
  • Jones Falls  (Other Name)
Custodian: Parks Canada
FHBRO Report Reference: 89-156
DFRP Number: 09412 24

Description of Historic Place

The Jones Falls Defensible Lockmaster’s House, also known as Sweeney House, is located within the Rideau Canal National Historic Site if Canada on a promontory overlooking the canal near the lock at Jones Falls Lockstation. Built of rough-faced masonry blocks, it is a compact, functional structure of square plan with a hipped-roof. The front elevation is symmetrical, with a central single doorway flanked by windows. A closed porch protects the front entrance. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Jones Falls Defensible Lockmaster’s House is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.

Historical Value
The Jones Falls Defensible Lockmaster’s House is a very good example of a building associated with the Rideau Canal and its maintenance, and as such, it played an important role in the transportation of military traffic on the canal during the 19th century as part of the military defence strategy for Canada. The Jones Falls Lockmaster's House was built as a defensible residence in support of the military defence role of the Rideau Canal. Peter Sweeney, lockmaster from 1839 to 1871, documented the early history of the canal operation in his personal diary, and, as a result, has become the focus of the interpretive program at the lockstation. In the early 1980s, the Canadian Parks Service completed a period restoration.

Architectural Value
The Jones Falls Defensible Lockmaster’s House is valued for its very good aesthetic design and is one of the few defensible lockmasters' houses retaining the original functional form - a single storey, hipped-roof structure with simple cubical massing and symmetrical front facade. In its current form, the house represents a typical defensible lockmaster's house from the military era. The period restoration of the interior plan now reflects very good functional layout of this type of dwelling. Very good craftsmanship can be seen in the handling of the stonework, which reflects the careful craftsmanship of the Royal Engineers.

Environmental Value
The Jones Falls Defensible Lockmaster’s House maintains an unchanged relationship to its site, reinforces the historic character of Jones Falls Lockstation and is a familiar landmark to local residents and to visitors.

Sources: James De Jonge, Fifteen buildings, Southern Area, Rideau Canal, Ontario, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Building Reports 89-155, 89-156, 89-157, 89-158,89-159, and 89-160; Defensible Lockmaster’s House, Jones Falls Lockstation, Rideau Canal, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 89-156.

Character-Defining Elements

The following character-defining elements of the Jones Falls Defensible Lockmaster’s House should be respected.

Its very good aesthetic, very good functional design and very good quality craftsmanship and materials, for example: the simple, compact, one-storey massing; the hipped roof, clad in tin, and the chimney; the exterior walls, constructed of rough-faced masonry blocks, the placement of windows, the door and the wooden loopholes; the frame defensible porch; the configuration of the interior, the fireplace, the partition walls and plaster finishes.

The manner in which the Jones Falls Defensible Lockmaster’s House maintains an unchanged relationship to its site, reinforces the historic character of the Jones Falls Lockstation and is a familiar landmark, as evidenced by: its ongoing relationship to its detached position on a promontory overlooking the lock; its simple design and stone masonry walls that complement the lockstation; its role as an active interpretation centre component, within the group of structures comprising the lockstation complex that makes it familiar to local residents and visitors.

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 Lockmaster's House at Jones Falls was built in 1841 by the British Ordnance Department as a defensible residence for the lockmaster. In the early 1980s, period restoration, involving the replacement of missing and deteriorated building components, was undertaken by the Canadian Parks Service. Environment Canada Parks Service is the custodial department. See FHBRO Building Report 89-156.

Reason For Designation

The building was designated Recognized as a result of its historical associations, design, craftsmanship and materials, and its environment.

The Lockmaster's House at Jones Falls was built as a defensible residence in support of the military defence role of the Rideau Canal. Peter Sweeney, lockmaster from 1839 to 1871, documented the early history of the canal operation in his personal diary, and, as a result, has become the focus of the interpretive program at the lockstation.

The form of the house represents the original, unaltered appearance of its type, while the exterior masonry walls reflect the careful craftsmanship of the Royal Engineers. As a result of period restoration, the interior plan now reflects the original layout of this type of dwelling.

The site of the building on a promontory overlooking the canal makes the house a significant element in the scenic historic environment.

Character Defining Elements

The Lockmaster's House at Jones Falls is one of the few defensible lockmasters' houses retaining the original functional form - a single storey, hipped-roof structure with simple cubical massing and symmetrical front facade. The surviving fabric includes most of the stone masonry walls, the roof framing and the floor. The carefully constructed stone walls reflect the high standards of the Royal Engineers and a local civilian contractor. During exterior restoration, two windows and a doorway cut through the original masonry walls in the late 19th century were infilled. New casement windows, wooden loopholes, tin roofing, and frame defensible porches have been installed.

Restoration of the interior involved construction of a new fireplace, several new partition walls and new plaster finishes. The current division of the interior into four rooms - sitting room, kitchen, and two bedrooms - illustrates the original floor plan of this building type. In its current form, the house represents a typical defensible lockmaster's house from the military era, and is interpreted from this perspective. As such, it should be maintained as is.

The natural ungroomed character of the site is similar to its appearance in the military period, although trees which now screen the view would not have been acceptable then. Jones Falls is one of the most scenic stations on the system and the Lockmaster's House occupies a prominent location in its environment. The character of the setting should be maintained.