Description of Historic Place
The West Street Heritage Conservation District is located on West Street, bounded by the Courthouse Square (round about) to the east and Waterloo Street to the west, in the downtown area of the Town of Goderich. It is a key area within the larger footprint of the historically significant downtown core which is bounded by Victoria Street to the east, Elgin Avenue to the south, Waterloo Street to the west and Nelson Street to the north. The district consists of 19 commercial buildings constructed between 1865 and 1972.
The district was designated by the Town of Goderich in 1993 for its historical or architectural value under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law 71 of 1993).
Two of the commercial buildings in the West Street Heritage Conservation District are protected under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act. These are the Former Bank of Upper Canada at 46 West Street and the Goderich Town Hall (originally a Post Office) at 57 West Street. 57 West Street is a Thomas Fuller building further protected by an Ontario Heritage Trust Easement.
The West Street Heritage Conservation District, located within the historic downtown core of the Town of Goderich, is associated with a significant period in the history of Goderich. The design and development of the street corresponds with growth of development from the 1840s to the early 1900s above the bluffs of the original 1827 harbour settlement. The original settlement of Goderich was a result of activities of the Canada Company, a large British land development company responsible for settling and populating a significant portion of Upper Canada. This settlement included the million acre Huron Tract, the majority of which is now Huron County.
As the headquarters of the Canada Company, Goderich was the social, economic and administrative centre for the District of Huron. Access from the harbour along West Street was historically of prime importance to the town's circulation patterns. The street allowed access to shipping transportation at the harbour and to the former Canadian Pacific Railway station located at the foot of Harbour Hill.
In the 1840s, the Courthouse Square and its pattern of radiating streets were laid out by Deputy Provincial Surveyor John McDonald under the direction of the first Commissioner of the Canada Company, John Galt. This plan was designed and surveyed in advance of construction to suit the geographical, political, social and economic needs of the growing community. As blocks of buildings of mostly similar style and material developed into a bustling market town, business and commerce moved up West Street and throughout the rare planning composition surrounding the three acre park and 99 foot wide round about. West Street is one of the eight roads converging on to the circle road.
The West Street Heritage Conservation District is primarily composed of brick commercial buildings dating from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s with the incorporation of a few buildings from the late 1900s. The individual buildings are integrated together to form a continuous streetscape of commercial storefronts. The West Street buildings are predominantly Georgian and are two or three storeys in height. Characteristic of this style are the symmetrical facades with minimal detailing. Also common to the commercial vernacular of the street are the side gable roofs which top many of the structures.
The mainly 19th century commercial blocks fronting the Circle and West Street continue to represent the traditional business, entertainment and shopping area of the town. The West Street Heritage Conservation District stands today as a testament to the commercial development of Goderich and compliments the other official Heritage Conservation District now known as Courthouse Square. As one of the major streets radiating from the round about to the east, West Street continues to make significant contributions to the commercial and civic core in downtown Goderich.
As a commercial district, the West Street buildings are well orientated to pedestrians. This is achieved by the large first storey windows whose single panes allow shop keepers to display their items, welcoming customers and creating a pleasant walking environment. The buildings are set close to the street while providing ample space for pedestrian traffic and parking. Dividing the north and south sides of the street is the wide two way West Street that leads to the Square and to the Harbour.
Sources: Town of Goderich, By-law 71 of 1993; West Street, Heritage Conservation District Plan, Town of Goderich, 1992.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the West Street Heritage Conservation District include its:
- location on major circulation route in close proximity to Goderich Harbour and the former Canadian Pacific Railway Station
- relationship to Courthouse Square, as one of the major radiating streets
- classically inspired layout and design of the streets
- wide street
- evenly setback buildings
- commercial blocks within the district
- symmetrical storefront facades, two to three storeys in height
- first storey single paned storefront windows
- upper storey double hung windows
- side gable roofs
- street furniture