Track 2: DESIGN - PLANNING THE CONSERVATION OF HISTORIC PLACES / Volet 2 : Conception - Planifier la conservation de lieux historiques

Bank of Canada, Ottawa: the story of sourcing decorative stone for interior 1938 lobby conservation

Saturday, October 14
1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

With construction completed in 1938, the intimate interior lobby space of the Bank of Canada, Ottawa, arguably marks the end of a long classical tradition in North America of having such a geographically broad and diverse selection of stone types arranged in delicate and ambitious decorative assemblies. During recent major rehabilitation work for the building complex, the original bank building with its exceptional classical styled lobby was conserved. The list of stones used in the decorative composition, both on a grand and incidental scale, included marble from Italy, serpentine from Vermont, travertine from Italy, limestone from Montana, and slate from Newfoundland. Locating original quarry supply sources of these stones was central to our conservation design philosophy of material accountability to include the responsible knowledge of originality and compatibility. With a number of the stones providing compositional roles to the floor design, many displayed forms of deterioration typical for foot trafficked areas, while the marble used for the walls displayed major historic repairs to address natural blemishes and fracturing. Many of the large panels also displayed significant structural issues with regards to uneven thickness dimensioning. Early condition assessment of the stones, especially the marble of the walls, informed us that an amount of replacement would be necessary. While many of the materials were familiar to us, with known quarry sources readily available, several were challenges to identify and locate, especially the marble of the walls.

Describing the story behind sourcing these unique decorative stones will provide a valuable background to a process that is all too often dealt with in a superficial and ill-informed way within the historic masonry conservation field. It is a process that is often curtailed in the name of cost convenience and time practicality. When given project support and informed research it provides paramount rewards for the public and, most importantly, the building itself.

This presentation will describe the successful hunt for the obscure stones types of the lobby, and how each turned out to be stones of a unique building period during the early 20th century in Canada and United States. The conservation repair strategy and methods/procedures will be briefly described. Physical and chemical characteristics of certain key stones will be described.

Learning Objectives:

Trevor Gillingwater

Principle, Masonry Conservator
Trevor Gillingwater, Conservation Services Inc.

Trevor Gillingwater has been providing applied technical and consultation services in Canada since 1996. His undergraduate studies embraced his interests in historic stone buildings and geology, which included a scholarship year abroad to study material and construction technologies of the ancient world . He is a City and Guilds of London graduate in architectural stone craft and technologies, Weymouth College, England. He is also a graduate of Bournemouth University's program in The Conservation of Architectural Stone, where he studied under John Ashurst. He has also participated and received certification from the San Servolo program in conservation training, Venice, Italy. He is actively involved masonry conservation projects within eastern Canada.


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Keith Blades

Keith Blades Consultant in the Conservation of Historic Buildings Incorporated

Keith Blades Biography

Keith Blades commenced his career in the United Kingdom working with the Directorate of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings. [Now Historic England]

In over 40 years of practice in conservation he has worked with architectural firms and the Canadian Federal Government, where he set up a team of conservation masons for work on the Parliament Buildings.

He obtained an MA in Conservation Studies from the University of York and for the past 25 years has based his practice on a mix of consulting, teaching and practical work in the field of masonry conservation.


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Bank of Canada, Ottawa: the story of sourcing decorative stone for interior 1938 lobby conservation

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