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Canadian Historic Sites: Occasional Papers in Archaeology and History No. 10

The Architectural Heritage of the Rideau Corridor

by Barbara A. Humphreys


In 1969, an architectural survey was made of all pre-1880 buildings in the Rideau Corridor, an area extending from Ottawa to Kingston (though not including these two cities) along the Rideau Canal. Of the 1,800 buildings recorded. 1,677 were considered to be within the relevant time period. This report describes, analyzes and illustrates a representative collection of these structures as well as some of their architectural details.

A survey was undertaken in 1969 by the National Historic Sites Service of the National and Historic Parks Branch far the Canada-Ontario-Rideau-Trent-Severn (CORTS) Study Committee. This survey was designed to record all pre-1880 habitable structures in the Rideau Corridor, and also to serve as a pilot project for the Canadian Inventory of Historic Building commenced the following year. The boundaries of the Rideau Corridor were established by the CORTS Study Committee and students were employed by the National Historic Sites Service to drive all roads within the given area to map, photograph and record all pre-1880 buildings which could be located. Approximately 1,800 buildings were recorded of which 1,677 were considered to be within the relevant time period. The information obtained on these buildings was coded far transferral to IBM cards and a preliminary report on the findings was compiled in 1970.

The preliminary report was primarily a statistical summary indicating the number, location, condition, type and estimated date of construction of the buildings recorded in the corridor. It was supplemented by maps, coded to show where clusters of the more interesting structures might be found, and a brief commentary on same 45 selected examples. This present report provides a more comprehensive description and analysis of the pre-1880 architecture recorded in the survey.

The boundaries of the Rideau Corridor determined by the CORTS Study Committee were followed as closely as possible, using for practical reasons the roads nearest the boundaries as demarkation lines. The cut-off date of 1880 was chosen because after this time the economic and architectural development of the area became mare diversified and thus less representative of this particular environment. Selection of the buildings recorded in the survey was based an architectural style, the history of the area and, where available, the history of the building itself. Early maps and assessment rolls, locally written histories, family records and folklore were also utilized to assist in dating. However, because of the difficulties encountered in accurately dating the buildings, it is possible that some built prior to 1880 have been omitted and conversely, that some post-1880 structures have been inadvertently included. Nonetheless it is believed that the survey, both in coverage and accuracy, provides mare than an adequate amount of information on which to base a comprehensive analysis of the architectural heritage of the area.

Neither the survey nor this report could have been completed without the cooperation and assistance so freely given by the owners or occupants of the buildings surveyed. Their interest is very much appreciated since it not only enabled the recording of the architectural heritage but, more importantly, is essential to its future preservation.

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