Although militia units existed in Canada since the 18th century, buildings designed for their needs only started being built in the mid-1800s. As the militia strengthened over the next few decades, a large number of drill sheds, drill halls and armouries were constructed across Canada.
Drill shed = a place where the militia stored arms.
Drill hall = a place where the militia practiced drill (essentially, marching in formation).
Armoury = eventually encompassed both the drill shed and drill hall, and became a multi-purpose building.
The armoury concept evolved architecturally over time. When the Department of Public Works originally ran the construction program, its focus had been on style and design. When the Department of Militia and Defence took over the program in 1912 just before the First World War, the focus switched to one of function and structure. Minto Armouries is an anomaly in that while the building was built between 1914 and 1915, it was designed by the Department of Public Works.
Building of Minto Armoury
In January 1956, a fire ripped through the Armouries’ wooden roof structure. The damage was estimated at $600,000 which, in today’s dollars, translates to approximately $5.7 million.
In 1991, Minto Armouries was designated a Recognized Federal Heritage Building. This means that special consideration has to be given to preserve the building’s heritage character (aesthetics, craftsmanship and style) throughout the building’s life cycle. There are many reasons for Minto Armouries’ heritage designation - read about it in the Heritage Character Statement. Better yet, come visit our museum and see the building for yourself!