Commissariat Office / Callum House

Recognized Federal Heritage Building

Amherstburg, Ontario
Exterior photo (© Parks Canada / Parcs Canada, 1993 (James De Jonge, AHB))
Exterior photo
(© Parks Canada / Parcs Canada, 1993 (James De Jonge, AHB))
Address : Dalhousie Street, Navy Yard Park, Amherstburg Navy Yard National Historic Site of Canada, Amherstburg, Ontario

Recognition Statute: Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
Designation Date: 1994-02-13
Dates:
  • 1831 to 1832 (Construction)

Custodian: Parks Canada
FHBRO Report Reference: 91-181
DFRP Number: 10700 00

Description of Historic Place

The Commissariat Office is a rectangular, brick bungalow with a low, hipped roof and prominent end chimneys. Its brickwork includes keywork above the windows and detailing around the main entrance. The building faces the Detroit River and is located in the heart of Amherstburg Navy Yard National Historic Site of Canada. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Commissariat Office is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.

Historical Value
The Commissariat Office strongly illustrates the presence of the military in the former reserve area near the center of Amherstburg. The Commissariat Office administered local service contracts to the military and also relates to the economic development of Amherstburg from 1830-1850.

Architectural Value
The Commissariat Office is a very good example of the standardized bungalow constructed by the British military during the 1830s. It is characterized by its symmetrical compact form and domestic scale. The building’s competent workmanship is evidenced in the handling of the brickwork, in particular the keywork above the windows and the detailing around the entrance.

Environmental Value
The Commissariat Office reinforces the present character of its fort setting. As part of a national and local landmark at Amherstburg Navy Yard National Historic Site of Canada , it is a familiar building.

Sources:
James De Jonge, Fort Malden National Historic Site, Amherstburg, Ontario, Federal Heritage Building Review Office, Building Report 91-181.

Commissariat Office, Fort Malden National Historic Site, Amherstburg, Ontario Heritage Character Statement, 91-181.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Commissariat Office should be respected, for example:

Its standardized bungalow design, and good craftsmanship, for example:
The symmetrical massing and compact form of the well proportioned bungalow design consisting of a rectangular, one-storey structure with a low hipped roof and prominent end chimneys. The design of the principle, five-bay façade, with its centre door and fan light and paired twelve-over-twelve sash windows. The masonry work including the rubble stone foundations, the brick walls and chimneys, and the dressed-stone ledges and front steps. The simple decorative details such as the iron work. The surviving interior finishes including the wood plank flooring, interior trims and plasterwork.

The manner in which the Commissariat Office reinforces the character of the fort setting, and is a familiar building, as evidenced by:
Its domestic design and materials which are a focal point at the historic site and which complement the fort setting. Its visibility and historical association with Amherstburg Navy Yard National Historic Site of Canada which makes it familiar within the area.

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 Commissariat Office was constructed with two offices for the pay and fuel officers in 1831-32. It was designed by Captain Philpotts of the Royal Engineers. The Commissariat Office was restored by Parks Canada in the 1980s. Parks Canada is the custodian. See FHBRO Building Report 91-181.

Reasons for Designation

The Commissariat Office was designated Recognized for its architectural importance, its environmental significance, and its historical associations.

The Commissariat Office is a very good example of the standardized bungalow constructed by the British military during the 1830s, with its symmetrical compact form and domestic scale. Restoration involved removal of front and rear frame additions and masonry infill, and reinstatement of certain window openings.

The Commissariat Office is a focal point of the site, reinforcing the historical character of the King's Navy Yard Park. The building is familiar as part of a national and local landmark.

The building illustrates the presence of the military in the former reserve area near the center of Amherstburg. The Commissariat Office administered local service contracts to the military and relates to the economic development of Amherstburg from 1830-1850.

Character Defining Elements

The heritage character of the Commissariat Office resides in its form, overall proportions, architectural details, construction materials, surviving interior layout, and relationship to the site and setting.

The building is a long rectangular one-storey structure with a low hipped roof and prominent end chimneys. The well proportioned bungalow design, rectangular footprint, simple massing and roof profile should not be compromised.

Symmetry is an important feature of the design. The door with its fanlight is centered between four twelve-over-twelve windows which add balance and texture to the facade. The arrangement of the facades should not be altered.

The building is characterized by the simplicity of its materials and detailing. The brick walls sit on a dressed stone ledge which caps a rubble stone foundation, and openings have simple brick voussoirs and stone sills. The masonry, including the massive chimneys, merits regular maintenance and conservation expertise. The vocabulary of traditional materials is compromised by the current asphalt shingle roof, which is an inappropriate material. A return to the appropriate historic material (sheet copper, to be confirmed by research) would improve the character of the building.

Most of the windows, frames and iron bars were extant and were refurbished during the restoration. These should continue to be retained. Recent photographs indicate an aluminum storm door which is inappropriate in scale and materials. The integrity of the building would be improved by removing it, and if necessary replacing it with a door sympathetic to the original design.

The original layout has been altered by the demolition of the central storage vault and vestibule, resulting an open interior. The original interior finishes, wood plank flooring, interior trims and plasterwork are largely intact and should be preserved. The simple stone steps and metal handrails are generally consistent with the character of the design and should be retained.