Recognized Federal Heritage Building
© Department of National Defence / Ministère de la Défense nationale, 1990.
969 Matthews Street, CFB Winnipeg- 17 Wing, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
1914 to 1915
Event, Person, Organization:
FHBRO Report Reference:
Description of Historic Place
The Minto Armoury is a large, red brick structure located in the west end of Winnipeg. Its Tudor-Revival style, exemplified by sturdy, crenellated corner towers and low arched entrances provide the fortress motif and are characteristic features of the building. Armouries, lecture rooms and administration offices surround the large drill hall. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Minto Armoury is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.
The Minto Armoury is associated with the provision of drill halls for the active volunteer Militia in Canada specifically under Sam Hughes, Minister of Militia and Defence from 1911 to 1916. He expedited the program of armoury construction initiated by Frederick Borden. In the interest of reducing costs, he turned over the design of the majority of armouries to his Engineering Services Branch, leaving only Class ‘’A’’ armouries in the hands of the Department of Public Works. The Winnipeg Armoury is one of the few designed by the latter under his auspices.
The Minto Armoury is a very good example of the Tudor Revival style as evidenced by its sturdy towers and low arched entrance. The fortress motifs, characteristic of Canadian armouries, are featured in the crenellations and towers. The unobstructed interior of the drill hall exhibits very good functional design. This design was typical of architect Thomas Fuller’s work and exemplifies the monumental massing of his later designs.
The Minto Armoury occupies the end of a block and reinforces the residential character of its community setting where it is a local landmark.
Sources: Armoury, CFB Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Federal Heritage Building Review Office Building Report, 90-061; Armoury, CFB Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Heritage Character Statement, 90-061.
The following character-defining elements of the Minto Armoury should be respected.
Its Tudor Revival style and fortress motif, very good functional design, and very good
craftsmanship, for example: the monumental scale and massing consisting of sturdy, square corner towers, a
two storey gate tower and a low arched entrance leading to a large drill hall; the steel truss structural system that spans the large, uninterrupted space of the drill hall; the exterior materials such as the red brick and white stone accents, and the decorative
detailing which contribute a decorative element to the buildings fortress like appearance
including the rusticated stone foundation and the medieval detailing such as string courses, crenellations, and window dressings in stone; the symmetrical arrangement of the numerous window openings.
The manner in which the building reinforces the character of its residential neighbourhood setting and is a local landmark as evidenced by: its Tudor Revival style, medieval motifs and materials which harmonizes with its
residential surroundings; its visibility and familiarity given its large scale, prominent location and well known
historical associations within the community.
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 Winnipeg Armoury was built in 1914-15 to designs by the Department of Public Works under T.W. Fuller. The building continues to serve as a drill hall. The Department of National Defence is the custodian. See FHBRO Building Report 90-61.
Reasons for Designation
The Winnipeg Armoury was designated Recognized as a result of its environmental qualities, its association with the provision of drill halls for the Active Volunteer Militia under Sam Hughes, and its architectural merit.
The armoury occupies the end of a block, surrounded by streets on three sides, with a vehicle compound at the rear. Constructed concurrently with the development of the west end of Winnipeg, the armoury retains its historic orientation to the residential surroundings, and is a community landmark.
Sam Hughes, Minister of Militia and Defence from 1911 to 1916, expedited the program of armoury construction initiated by Frederick Borden. In the interest of reducing costs, he turned over the design of the majority of armouries to his Engineering Services Branch, leaving only Class A armouries in the hands of the Department of Public Works. The Winnipeg Armoury is one of the few designed by the latter under his auspices.
The Winnipeg Armoury is among the largest armouries constructed before the Second World War, and provides a full range of facilities. The large gable-roofed drill hall is surrounded by a two-storey flat-roofed structure containing armouries, mess hall, lecture rooms and administrative offices. The Tudor Revival style, exemplified by sturdy towers and low arched entrance, is typical of Fuller's designs under Hughes. As a result of design restrictions imposed by the Militia Council in 1909, medieval references and decorative elements are less elaborate than in earlier armouries, but the crenellations and towers continue the fortress motif characteristic of Canadian armouries.
Character Defining Elements
The heritage character of this structure is defined by its external massing and detailing, functional design, high quality materials and craftsmanship, and by the character of the drill hall interior.
The Winnipeg Armoury exemplifies the monumental massing of Fuller's later designs. While partial enclosure of the drill hall by the
administrative block is characteristic of Fuller's Class A designs, the Winnipeg Armoury is somewhat unusual in that all four facades are treated similarly.
A strong horizontal emphasis, created by contrasting bands of red brick and white stone, is accented by robust three-storey corner towers, square in plan. The low two-storey gate tower which serves as the main entrance continues the linearity of the front facade. The integrity of the massing and profile must be respected.
The exterior facades of the armoury are largely intact. The numerous window openings, arranged singly or grouped in twos or threes, contribute to the liveliness of the elevations. Some of the original multi-paned sash windows have been replaced with modern units not in keeping with the medieval character of the building. When window replacement is required, these should be replaced with units compatible with the original design.
The rusticated stone foundation and the medieval detailing, including string courses, crenellations and window dressings in stone, contrast in colour and texture with the red brick walls. These elements contribute to the texture and monumental quality of the design and must be preserved. Repairs to the masonry should only be undertaken with the assistance of a masonry expert.
The large, unobstructed interior of the drill hall, achieved through the use of steel trusses, is characteristic and must be preserved. All original interior finishes and historic building fabric should be maintained and repaired in kind.
Modifications to the environment include the provision of a vehicular compound at the rear, and additional parking spaces on both sides and across the front of the structure. To provide an obstructed view of the principal facade, it would be preferable to discourage parking in front of the building.