Bay Street Armoury
Recognized Federal Heritage Building
Victoria, British Columbia
© Ministère de la Défense nationale / Department of National Defence, 1990
713 Bay Street, Victoria, British Columbia
Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
1912 to 1914
Event, Person, Organization:
Department of Public Works, District Architect, W.R.Wilson
Bay Street Drill Hall
FHBRO Report Reference:
Description of Historic Place
The Bay Street Armoury is a large structure whose form and detailing conjure up the images of a fortress through the incorporation of towers, crenellated turrets and a low wide arched entrance, reminiscent of a fortified gate. The Armoury is located on the edge of Victoria’s downtown core and is situated in a mixed urban environment. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Bay Street Armoury is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.
The Bay Street Armoury is closely associated with the militia building campaign of 1896-1918, in which more that 100 drill halls and armouries were erected across the country. These buildings played a significant part in the militia reform by functioning as both training, and recruitment centres.
The Bay Street Armoury is a very good example of an armoury designed in the Tudor Revival style with references to medieval military architecture. Structurally the building exhibits the most integrated use of new structural materials available in the early 20th century.
The Bay Street Armoury reinforces the present character of its mixed, residential, commercial and industrial setting on the edge of Victoria’s downtown core. It is a conspicuous and familiar building in the community.
Jacqueline Adell, Bay Street Drill Hall, Victoria, British Columbia, Federal Heritage Building Review Office, Building Report, 90-220; Bay Street Drill Hall, Victoria British Columbia, Heritage Character Statement, 90-220.
The character-defining elements of the Bay Street Armoury should be respected.
Its reference to medieval military architecture designed in the Tudor Revival style, structural design and high quality building materials, for example: the simulated features typical of medieval military construction that include a low prominent tower; crenellated turrets that flank the main entrance, crenellated parapet walls that crown the building, and masonry pilasters on the exterior elevations formed like medieval buttresses; the symmetrically organized façades with windows of various shapes; the high quality masonry work; the steel frame and arched steel trusses; the structural materials consisting of steel and iron encased with fireproof materials and reinforced concrete used together with wood, stone and brick.
The manner in which the building reinforces the present character of its mixed residential, commercial and industrial setting and is a familiar building within the community as evidenced by: its relatively low scale and traditional materials which harmonizes with the mixed urban neighbourhood.
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 Bay Street Armoury was built in 1912-1914, to plans prepared byW.R. Wilson, the Department of Public Works' district architect in Victoria. The building was designated as a National Historic Site by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. The custodian of the building is the Department of National Defence. See FHBRO Building Report 90-220.
Reasons for Designation
The Bay Street Armoury was designated Recognized because of its historical association, its architectural significance, its structural design, and its contextual value.
The Armoury was built during the militia building campaign of 1896-1918, in which more than 100 drill halls and armouries were erected across the country. These buildings played a significant part in the militia reform by functioning as both training and recruitment centres.
In its architectural design, the Bay Street Armoury makes reference to medieval military architecture, the Tudor Revival style. Structurally, the Victoria Armoury exhibits the most integrated use of new structural materials available in the early 20th century. Structural materials consisted of steel and iron encased with fireproof materials and reinforced concrete used together with wood, stone and brick.
The building is prominently sited within a mixed urban environment and it has a positive effect on its immediate neighbourhood.
Character Defining Elements
The heritage character of the Bay Street Armoury is defined by its form, the richness of its exterior elevations, in its structural design, those aspects of the interior substantive of its military function, and by its relationship with the site.
The armoury's articulated from and detailing conjure up the image of a fortress. To simulate features typical of medieval military construction certain elements are used: a low prominent tower announces the entrance, the main entrance is reminiscent of a fortified gate, crenellated turrets flank the main entrance way, crenellated parapet walls crown the building, and masonry pilasters on the exterior elevations are formed like medieval buttresses. It is important to maintain the integrity of these expressive components. On the first floor and semi-circular on the second floor-arranged to create balanced compositions. The division of all windows into multi-panes, adds texture to the walls. The pattern and design of openings should be maintained.
Craftsmanship is evident in the choice and the high quality of the building materials, as well as in the competent handling of the masonry work. The walls are enlivened by patterned brick work. Stone work is used to accentuate openings and horizontal lines. The masonry work warrants careful maintenance, with the use of appropriate expertise for any repair and repointing.
The structural elements also contribute to the heritage character. Reinforced concrete is used for the basement walls and the basement floor. The walls are self-supporting, steel frame supports the floors and arched steel trusses which support the roof are held in place by concrete walls faced in brick. Any new work should respect the original structural design and load distribution.
The interior was designed to accommodate a variety of military functions. Of special interest is the voluminous two-storey drill hall with its floor space totally unobstructed. Armouries, store rooms, lecture rooms and mess rooms are organized around the principal drill hall. The significance of other interior features should be evaluated as a preliminary to any proposed intervention. Modifications should respect important spatial characteristics and historic fabric.
The relationship of the building to its site should be maintained.