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WETASKIWIN COURT HOUSE

4705 - 50 Avenue, Wetaskiwin, Alberta, T9A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1977/03/15

Wetaskiwin Courthouse Provincial Historic Resource (date unknown); Provincial Archives of Alberta, A.13163
North facade
Wetaskiwin Courthouse Provincial Historic Resource (September 2000); Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, 2000
North facade
Wetaskiwin Courthouse Provincial Historic Resource (September 2000); Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, 2000
North facade

Other Name(s)

WETASKIWIN COURT HOUSE
Old County Courthouse
Courthouse (Old)
County Courthouse (Old)
Old Wetaskiwin Courthouse
Old Courthouse
Wetaskiwin Courthouse (Old)

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1906/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/03/30

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Wetaskiwin Court House is a three-storey red brick building situated on a block of land east of the city's downtown. The building is circled by a galvanized iron cornice, frieze, and architrave and its main entrance features a projecting pediment supported by Ionic columns. Set in relief on the pediment and entablature are the year "1907", Alberta's armorial bearings, and the words "COURT HOUSE."

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the Wetaskiwin Court House lies in its representation of the Classical Revival style of architecture and its association with the establishment of legal institutions in Alberta shortly after the creation of the province in 1905.

Construction on the Wetaskiwin Court House began in 1907, the first trial was held here in 1908, and the structure was completed in 1909. The building was the first of its kind designed by A.M. Jeffers, the newly appointed Provincial Architect and draftsman for many of Alberta's early governmental constructions, including the Legislature. The courthouse embodies the Classical Revival architectural style, a design commonly used for western Canadian courthouses between 1906 and 1920. This style is expressed in the courthouse's projecting pediment, carved Ionic columns, arched brick entryway, and symmetrical massing. The solidity, strength, and balance of the design reflect the ideals of the justice system.

The construction of the courthouse in Wetaskiwin just after Alberta became a province reflects the growing importance of the community as a regional commercial and administrative centre just after the turn of the century. In 1904, Wetaskiwin became a junction point between the Canadian Pacific Railway's (C.P.R.) transcontinental railway line and its branch north to Edmonton. Connected to the region's main transportation network, Wetaskiwin grew rapidly and became a major distribution point. Its size and regional importance were recognized in the creation of the Wetaskiwin Judicial District to serve the surrounding area of central Alberta. The courthouse was built as the centre of this district. The Wetaskiwin Court House was one of seven new courthouses built in the province between 1906 and 1912, a period in which the fledgling provincial government endeavoured to establish legal and governmental infrastructure throughout Alberta. The cannons placed in front of the courthouse add another layer of historical texture to the site: the two pieces of artillery are German field cannons captured by the Allies during World War One and gifted by the Dominion Government to the city of Wetaskiwin in gratitude for the community's support of the war effort.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: 0139)

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the cultural landscape of the Wetaskiwin Court House include such features as:
- mature trees, landscaping, and boundary-defining hedges;
- two cannons in front of building.

The exterior character-defining elements of the Wetaskiwin Court House include such features as:
- mass, form, and style;
- galvanized iron cornice, frieze, and architrave, pediment supported by sandstone Ionic columns;
- semi-circular arched doorway with sandstone keystone, double front doors below fanlight, and decorative broken pediment above;
- provincial armorial bearings, the words "COURT HOUSE", and year "1907" set in relief on pediment and entablature;
- fenestration pattern and style, including sandstone sills, double hung and hinged sash windows.

The character-defining elements of the interior of the Wetaskiwin Court House include such features as:
- floor plan;
- plaster ornamentation for ceiling, cornices, beam brackets, and wall corner protectors;
- plaster Ionic boxed half-columns, beam cornices, and panelled ceilings;
- birch wainscoting, court rails, and prisoner's box;
- cast iron radiators;
- decorative stair stringers, hardwood risers , treads and balustrades;
- stained birch doors with polished brass handles;
- patterned decorative glass elements and bevelled glass mirrors with stained oak frames;
- original room signage;
- steel vault doors with combination locks and heavy duty iron bars on pivot pins for jail cells;
- all original furnishings and artifacts.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Alberta

Recognition Authority

Province of Alberta

Recognition Statute

Historical Resources Act

Recognition Type

Provincial Historic Resource

Recognition Date

1977/03/15

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

n/a

Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Security and Law
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type

Current

Historic

Government
Courthouse and/or Registry Office

Architect / Designer

A.J. Jeffer

Builder

D.J. McLaughlin

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 139)

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

4665-0205

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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