The Exterior Use of Decorative Ironwork in Ottawa
Architecture during the Latter Half of the Nineteenth Century
Nancy Patricia Volesky
High Victorian architecture in Britain and France embraced
eclecticism in architectural styles which provided a showcase for the skills of the
ornamental ironworker with the creation of ornate entrance gates, decorative railings and
elaborate roof cresting. As with most trends during the nineteenth century, Canada was
quick to be influenced by the orientation of Europe and this highly decorative vogue in
architecture was no exception.
The extent of this influence is illustrated by the
construction of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa during the 1860s designed by the
English-trained architects Fuller and Jones. The completed buildings were so impressive
that they affected not only local Ottawa and government architects but they helped to
launch a national architectural style, in keeping with the confidence, aggressiveness and
enthusiasm of a new nation.
This thesis discusses the exterior decorative use of cast
and wrought iron (primarily cresting and finials) in mid-nineteenth century Ottawa
architecture. The study begins in the 1860s (as no substantive information on local
ironworkers is available before this date) and ends with the 1890s, the last years of the
century. An examination of the iron industry in Ottawa has been attempted and includes a
catalogue of ornamental ironworkers and foundries in operation during this period.
Examples of Ottawa architecture ornamented with iron and constructed between 1860 and 1900
are also studied and an analysis of the cresting design has been undertaken.
The thesis also studies examples of Ottawa architecture
ornamented with iron and constructed during this period. These buildings are divided into
three types: Federal government buildings, public buildings and residential architecture.
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