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FORT MACLEOD COURTHOUSE (TOWN HALL)

236 - 23 Street, Fort MacLeod, Alberta, T0L, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1979/11/16

Fort Macleod Courthouse (Town Hall) Provincial Historic Resource (August 2005); Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, 2005
View looking southeast
Fort Macleod Courthouse (Town Hall) Provincial Historic Resource (date unknown); Glenbow Archives, NA-5413-6
North and east elevations
Fort Macleod Courthouse (Town Hall) Provincial Historic Resource (May 2001); Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, 2001
View looking southwest

Other Name(s)

FORT MACLEOD COURTHOUSE (TOWN HALL)
Fort Macleod Courthouse (Town Hall)
Fort Macleod Courthouse (Old)
Fort MacLeod Courthouse
Macleod Courthouse (Town Hall)
Fort Macleod Courthouse/Town Office
Fort Macleod Courthouse and Town Hall
Town Hall
Old Fort Macleod Courthouse

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1902/01/01 to 1904/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/09/14

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Fort Macleod Courthouse (Town Hall) is an early twentieth century, two and one half-storey building situated on a portion of a block of land located by the commercial centre of Fort Macleod. It features a red brick facade with horizontal bands of rusticated sandstone and a cross-gabled roof.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the Fort Macleod Courthouse lies in its association with both the territorial and the provincial administration of justice and its outstanding example of territorial courthouse architecture.

When the Government of Canada acquired the vast territory known as Rupert's Land from the Hudson's Bay Company (H.B.C.) in 1870, the fledgling Dominion government recognized that the newly acquired region had a pressing need for the institutions of law and order. In 1874, the North West Mounted Police (N.W.M.P.) arrived in western Canada and set up the first police post in present-day Alberta at Fort Macleod. A decade later, during the 1880s, the federal government established the territorial court system and began building twelve courthouses in the North-West Territories. The Fort Macleod Courthouse was built between 1902 and 1904 for the Alberta Judicial District of the Northwest Territories. With the creation of Alberta and Saskatchewan in 1905 and the founding of their provincial court systems in 1907, most of these territorial courthouses were either demolished or transformed for alternate uses. Only the courthouses at Fort Macleod and Wolseley, Saskatchewan are still extant, though the building at Fort Macleod bears the distinction of being the only territorial courthouse that continued to operate in its original capacity after the transition to a provincial court system. It was transferred to the provincial government in 1911 and continued to operate as a courthouse until 1971, when it was converted into the Fort Macleod Town Hall.

The Fort Macleod Courthouse is the best preserved example of the territorial courthouses constructed by the federal government between 1888 and 1905. It is also the only extant territorial courthouse built by the federal government in Alberta and one of the few buildings that remains from the period in which the Government of Canada administered the Northwest Territories. The courthouse was designed by Dominion architect David Ewart, who was also responsible for the plan of the Royal Canadian Mint. The cross-gabled design of the building was one of the standard plans for territorial courthouses and was also employed at the courthouses constructed in Medicine Hat (built 1899) and Red Deer (built between 1903 and 1905). Its rusticated sandstone base, red brick facade, and simple, yet elegant, design embody the ideals of the justice system - balance, strength, and rationality.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 109)

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Fort Macleod Courthouse include such features as:
- massing, form, and style;
- fieldstone and sandstone foundation;
- red brick facade featuring rusticated sandstone stringcourses;
- sandstone block with engraved "1902" on north elevation;
- cross-gabled roof;
- returned eaves gable ends;
- corbelled decorative brickwork supporting the eaves;
- corbelled brick chimneys featuring rusticated sandstone bands;
- projecting front entry porch with rusticated sandstone stringcourses, semi-circular arched entry and side windows with brick voussoirs;
- second floor balcony supported by the projecting front entry porch;
- two projecting structures on the east elevation featuring brick sides and face crowned by a fascia and pediment, the one closest to the south elevation featuring two windows on the north and south sides and a door with glass panes and a fanlight;
- fenestration pattern and style, including semi-circular windows on west and east elevations;
- entrance to basement on rear south wall;
- semi-circular brick courses containing geometrical patterns above windows on north elevation and semi-circular brick courses above windows on east and west elevations;
- rusticated sandstone lintels and sills;
- original interior elements, including wainscoting, balustraded staircases and newel posts, counters, windows and casements, and doors;
- original artifacts associated with the site.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Alberta

Recognition Authority

Province of Alberta

Recognition Statute

Historical Resources Act

Recognition Type

Provincial Historic Resource

Recognition Date

1979/11/16

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1904/01/01 to 1971/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

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

Function - Category and Type

Current

Government
Town or City Hall

Historic

Government
Courthouse and/or Registry Office

Architect / Designer

David Ewart

Builder

n/a

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. 109)

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

4665-0190

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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