Defensible Lockmaster's House
Recognized Federal Heritage Building
© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, Couture, 1989.
Rideau Canal National Historic Site of Canada, Clowes, Ontario
Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
1838 to 1838
1900 to 1900
Event, Person, Organization:
FHBRO Report Reference:
Description of Historic Place
The Defensible Lockmaster’s House, a component of Clowes Lockstation, is located four kilometres downstream from Merrickville on the west bank of the Rideau River, in the Rideau Canal National Historic Site of Canada. It is a single-storey, square structure with a hipped roof and exterior walls of rough-faced stone. The main entrance is flanked by windows and protected by a porch. Set back from the principal façade is a single-storey clapboard extension with a full-length porch. The Defensible Lockmaster’s House is in an elevated position some distance from the lock chamber. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Defensible Lockmaster’s House at Clowes Lockstation is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Defensible Lockmaster’s House is a very good example of a building associated with the construction and operation of the Rideau Canal. As part of the Rideau Canal, the building illustrates firstly the theme of military defence strategy for Upper and Lower Canada in the second quarter of the 19th century, and secondly, the subsequent evolution and transformation of the waterway as a federal public work. It is one of the last defensible lockmaster's houses to be built and exemplifies the change in the role of the Rideau Canal from a military function to that of transportation. Currently, the house is a locally operated museum interpreting the historic role of the canal in the area.
The Defensible Lockmaster’s House is valued for its very good aesthetic design, and is among the earliest of its type constructed on the Rideau Canal. It is one of only a few on the canal that still retains the original single-storey defensible design. The frame addition, designed to enhance the residential function of the building, represents the changing role of the canal by the 20th century from that of defence to that of commerce and recreation. Good functional design is evidenced in the thick defensive walls and the interior layout. Good craftsmanship can be seen in the quality of the regularly coursed masonry of the exterior walls.
The Defensible Lockmaster’s House is compatible with the domestic character of its rural setting at Clowes Lockstation and is a familiar landmark to local residents and 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, Chaffey’s Lockstation, Rideau Canal, Ontario, Heritage Character Statement 89-158.
The character-defining elements of the Defensible Lockmaster’s House should be respected.
Its good aesthetic, good functional design and good quality craftsmanship, for example: the simple, square, single-storey massing; the hipped roof, and the chimney; the exterior walls of thick, evenly coursed masonry; the symmetrical placement of the windows and doors; the single-storey clapboard addition with full-length verandah; the interior configuration.
The manner in which the Defensible Lockmaster’s House is compatible with the domestic character of Clowes Lockstation and is a familiar local landmark, as evidenced by: its overall scale, design and materials that are compatible with its rural surroundings; its familiarity within the area due to its elevated location and role associated with the canal.
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 Defensible Lockmaster's House at Clowes Lockstation was built in 1838 by the Royal Engineers in support of the Rideau Canal system. A frame extension was added to one side before around turn-of-the-century. The building continues its historic function as a residence for canal staff. The Canadian Parks Service is the custodial department. See FHBRO Building Report 91-79.
Reasons for Designation
The building was designated Recognized as a result of its historical associations, its functional design and craftsmanship, and the character of the site.
The defensible lockmaster's house at Clowes is one of only a few on the Rideau Canal still retaining its original single-storey defensible design, reflecting the military role of the Canal in the defence of the united Canadas during the nineteenth century. Among the earliest of its type constructed on the Canal, the house is an important representative of the period. The frame addition, designed to enhance the residential function of the building, represents the changing role of the canal by the twentieth century from that of defence to that of commerce and recreation.
The house retains its turn-of-the-century domestic character in a peaceful rural setting.
Character Defining Elements
The heritage character of this structure is defined by its combination of defensible and domestic design features, its materials and craftsmanship, and its contribution to the environment.
The main section of the Clowes Defensible Lockmaster's House exhibits the functional form of its building type as designed by the British military. It forms a simple mass -- square in plan, one storey in height topped by a hipped roof, with a symmetrical front facade. The thick limestone walls reflect the military function of the original structure and exemplify the careful construction associated with the Royal Engineers. The single-storey clapboard addition is well integrated with the main structure -- set back from the front facade, with the columns of its full-length verandah repeating the columned front entrance porch.
The house, in an elevated setting away from the lock chamber, is the sole remaining original building at the lockstation. As such, it contributes significantly to the historic ambience, and is a local landmark. The overall form, historic materials, and setting of this property should be maintained.