Description of Historic Place
The Cathcart Armoury, also known as the Victoria Rifles Armoury, presents itself as a two-dimensional façade, pressed up against its Montreal streetscape, hemmed in on all sides by office buildings. It is an attractive, three-storey, stone clad building whose side and rear walls are clad in brick. A rich array of medieval and military motifs adorn the building. Continuations of mullion motifs in the spandrels between the second and third floors give the appearance of one long window that unites the entire façade. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Cathcart Armoury is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Cathcart Armoury is associated with the Victoria Rifles Regiment, a distinguished militia unit that played an important part in the military history of Canada. They served in the Fenian Raids in the late 1860s and in the Northwest Rebellion of 1885. They served overseas in the Boer War and in the two World Wars and also assisted in civilian policing actions. A wealthy and very self-sufficient regiment, they purchased the land for this armoury in 1886 and initiated the building project that would later be approved by the Department of National Defence, which eventually covered the cost of construction in exchange for legal title to the property. Completed in January 1934, the armoury housed the Victoria Rifles Regiment until 1965.
The Cathcart Armoury is valued for its very good aesthetic design. It represents a well-crafted expression of the Tudor Gothic style. Its stylistic vocabulary is drawn from historical precedent and illustrates a conservative strain in Canadian architecture that persisted into the 1930s. Demonstrating a good functional design, the interior layout deviated from the standard pattern for armouries with its drill hall located on the third floor above the offices, a result of the building’s location on a small downtown lot. Its ornately carved medieval detail, textured stonework and its turreted and crenelated roof line represents a well-crafted expression of its stylistic mode.
The Cathcart Armoury provides a touch of architectural diversity in an area that is dominated by modern office buildings, and is compatible with the present character of its business area streetscape setting. It is a familiar landmark within the area.
Sources: Janet Wright, Victoria Rifles Armoury (Cathcart Street Armoury), Montreal, Quebec, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Building Report, 83-057; Catchcart Armoury, Montreal, Quebec, Heritage Character Statement, 83-057.
The character-defining elements of the Cathcart Armoury should be respected.
Its very good aesthetic and functional design and good quality craftsmanship and materials, for example:
- the three-storey massing with a crenelated roof line and projecting tower defined by two
central turrets, balcony, and a wide entrance with a raised portcullis;
- the elements of the Tudor Gothic style such as the low ogee arch of the windows and
- the rich array of medieval and military motifs that lend a sense of variety and texture to
the main façade;
- the reinforced concrete and steel structural frame construction;
- the cladding of the main façade that consists of a rough granite base with random ashlar
composed primarily of local grey limestone and with a few coloured stones for variety,
and the side and rear walls clad in brick;
- the belt course and carved ornaments composed of a lighter limestone;
- the continuation of the mullion motif in the spandrels between the second and third floors which gives the appearance of one long window that unites the entire façade;
- the interior layout with the drill hall located on the third floor above the offices.
The manner in which the Cathcart Armoury is compatible the present character of its business area, streetscape setting and is a familiar building within the area, as evidenced by:
- its high standards of design and construction, which contributes an architectural
diversity to its streetscape setting dominated by modern high-rise buildings;
- its attractive design and known historical role within the community, which makes it an