Visiting the Old Armoury Building, Woodstock, Ontario: Remembering the Oxford Rifles and the Fateful Dieppe Raid, 1942
Solid, with poignant associations
Dating from 1904, the solid, red brick Old Armoury, with stone facing. is located at 94 Graham Street, Woodstock, in Ontario's Oxford County. Its main entrance way is also in stone.
The building's conical, crenelated towers together with the presence of prominent, Syrian arching combine to effuse both a strong expression of Romanesque style and defensive solidity.
The responsibility of Nagle and Mills of Ingersoll, what is now known as the Old Armoury served its original, primary purpose for over 50 years, including during two World Wars.
Here, fateful associations persist in historical memory. The home of the Oxford Rifles — Woodstock being the chief town of Oxford County — was thus linked at least peripherally with the Dieppe Raid of August 19, 1942, in which the Oxford Rifles participated, and where Canada suffered 907 troops killed, 586 wounded, and 1,946 captured.
In pursuit of this association, a stone memorial, partly made of stones from the beach at Dieppe is in proximity to the Old Armoury.
The Oxford Rifles originated in 1863 and were known under various designations until 1950 when they were official named the London and Oxford Fusiliers (3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment) (1).
Since the Armoury's military function ceased, the building has served variously as educational administration and commercial offices.
Personal note: I passed this building at night, while it was somewhat impressively lit up by lamplight; it strikes me that the experience of working late in this building must be replete with a sense of heavy historical allusion.
April 8, 2019
(1) Records of the Oxford Rifles are located at the County of Oxford Archives; see also: https://www.archeion.ca/oxford-rifles-fonds
Also worth seeing
Woodstock itself has various examples of fine ecclesiastical architecture, including Old St. Paul's Church, dating from 1834; the City Hall, the Old Town Hall and the Oxford County Courthouse are also worth seeing.
In London , Ontario (distance: 43.4 kilometres) prominent buildings and visitor attractions include: Eldon House; St. Paul's Cathedral; the Middlesex County Court building; the former Armouries; the Fanshawe Pioneer Village.
Kitchener (distance: 57.7 kilometres); Woodside, former home of long-serving Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King is a National Historic Site of Canada.
How to get there: Air Canada flies to London International Airport, from Toronto Pearson Airport, from where there are wide North American and other connections. Car rental is available at London International Airport. VIA Rail serves Woodstock , connecting with Windsor and Toronto, and other cities. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada
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