Classified Federal Heritage Building
(© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1977.)
50 Principale St., Carillon Barracks National Historic Site of Canada, Carillon, Quebec
Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
1835 to 1837
FHBRO Report Reference:
Description of Historic Place
The Carillon Barracks, also known as the Old Barracks, in Carillon, Québec, enjoys a commanding view of the Ottawa River. The large, rectangular stone structure was built as two blocks, separated by a wide stonewall running from basement to attic, and joined by a hipped roof. A central dormer and symmetrically placed chimneys mark the main façades. Each block has a wide entrance door decorated with transom and side lights, and a Palladian window above. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Carillon Barracks are a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of their historical associations, and architectural and environmental values.
The Carillon Barracks are closely associated with the history of defence and transportation in Lower Canada. Constructed for Charles John Forbes, a retired Commissioner of the British Army, the building was used as a troop quarters during the building of the Carillon Canal and the Rebellion of 1837, and later as a residence and hotel. The town of Carillon once saw a great deal of cargo and passenger traffic, as the terminus of the steamship line from Montréal, and the head of the rail line to Grenville. Since 1938, the building has housed the museum of the Argenteuil Historical Society and it is now part of Carillon Barracks National Historic Site of Canada.
The Carillon Barracks are valued for their excellent aesthetic design, and are a fine example of the classic British architecture found in the St. Lawrence and Ottawa valleys. The character of the building resides in its neoclassical scale, massing and proportions, and in the detailing of its façades with their symmetrically arranged matching doors, Palladian windows, sash windows, dormers and corner chimneys. The simplicity and versatility of the floor plan demonstrates a very good functional design, which has successfully accommodated the building’s various uses. In addition, the very good craftsmanship of the building is evidenced in its stone work and detailing as well as the finishing woodwork on the interior.
The Carillon Barracks, with their commanding view of the Ottawa River, reinforce the character of its picturesque residential setting. The building attracted many holiday travelers in the early 20th century and is well-known in the region.
Sources: Old Barracks, Carillon, Québec, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Building Report, 90-016;Old Barracks, Carillon, Québec, Heritage Character Statement, 90-016.
The following character-defining elements of the Carillon Barracks should be respected.
The excellent aesthetic design, very good functional design and very good materials and craftsmanship, for example: the rectangular structure, comprised of two separate blocks, constructed back-to-back, each with its own façade, and separated by a thick stone wall from basement to attic; the hipped roof with its symmetrical arrangement of chimneys and dormers; the composition of the main façades at either end of the building with their large entrance door with depressed-arch transom and side lights, and a second storey depressed-arch Palladian window with two side windows and symmetrically positioned eight-over-eight sash windows; the cut-stone facing with quoins on the main façades and the rough stone masonry of the side walls; the multi-paned, wooden sash windows along the side façade; the simplicity and versatility of the floor plan including the arrangement of the corridors and door locations; the interior finishing materials such as the wall cladding of either boards or plaster and the wood floors; the interior trim including the fireplaces, mantles, arched doorways on the ground floor, doors, baseboards and staircases.
The manner in which the Carillon Barracks reinforce the character of its picturesque residential setting and is a well known building in Carillon, as evidenced by: the overall scale, design and materials which complement the river view setting and harmonize with the landscaped surroundings; the role as a museum and attraction, as part of a National Historic Site of Canada, which makes it familiar to residents and visitors of the area.
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 evidence to date indicates that the Carillon Barracks was constructed in 1835-37 for Charles John Forbes, a retired Commissioner of the British Army. For the first 100 years, the building was used as a military barracks, private residence, and hotel. Since 1938, it has housed the museum of the Argenteuil Historical Society. The government took possession of the building in 1939, and Parks Canada is the current custodian. The building is part of Carillon Barracks National Historic Site. See FHBRO Report No. 90-16.
Reasons for Designation
The Old Carillon Barracks has been designated Classified because of its exceptional architecture, its historical associations, and its location on the Ottawa River.
The stylistic quality and construction of the building make it a very fine example of the classic English architecture typical of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa valleys.
The structure is closely related to the history of defence and transportation in Canada owing to its strategic location and utilization. It was used as troop quarters during the construction of the Carillon Canal and the Rebellion of 1837, and later as a residence and hotel. The town of Carillon saw a great deal of cargo and passenger traffic in its day, as it was the terminus of the steamship line from Montréal and the head of the rail line to Grenville.
The Old Carillon Barracks still has a commanding view of the Ottawa River. This feature attracted many holiday travellers in the early 20th century.
Character Defining Elements
The heritage character of the Carillon Barracks resides in its very fine state of conservation, the meticulous composition of its two facades, and its excellent quality of construction.
The rectangular structure is in fact comprised of two separate blocks constructed back- to-back, each with its own facade. The east and west blocks are separated by a thick stone wall from basement to attic. There are five chimneys and six dormers.
The facades at either end of the Old Barracks are typical of Georgian houses. Each facade has a large entrance door with depressed-arch transom and, directly above the door in the second storey, a depressed-arch Palladian window with two side windows arranged vertically on both sides. A hip roof surmounts and balances the two facades, with a central dormer, and a chimney near each corner. This symmetry and relationship must never be altered. The two facades faced in cut stone with quoins provide contrast with the rough stone masonry of the side walls.
The facades have several multi-paned windows. These wooden sash windows are an essential element of the building’s heritage character, and they must be conserved.
The interior layout of the building has been unchanged since it was converted to a museum in 1938. At that time, most of the architectural elements that had been added by the hotel owner were demolished, and some interior walls were removed to suit the building’s new role as a museum. The original arrangement of the corridors and all original door locations were retained. The simplicity, logic and versatility of the floor plan largely account for its longevity. The floor layouts should be conserved in any future renovation.
Most of the original finishing materials have been conserved. The walls are covered with either boards or plaster, and the floors are wood, except in the basement. The woodwork (mouldings, doors, fireplace mantles, baseboards, staircases) is all original, and has retained its stylistic integrity. All these interior trim components, including the fireplace in the basement and the arched doorway on the ground floor, should be scrupulously conserved.
The view of the building from the road was altered somewhat when Road 344 was raised. The view of the river on the other side of the Old Barracks, however, is splendid, particularly from the verandah. In future renovations, no structures or plantings must be allowed to interfere with the relationship between the building and the river. Landscaping must conform to the heritage character of the property and to the period of construction of the building.