Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Antigonish County Court House is situated in the town of Antigonish on the northeastern shore of mainland Nova Scotia. Built in a simple, vernacular style, the Court House is symmetrical, wood-frame building. It is distinguished by a Greek revival, temple-like front consisting of a pedimented portico supported by four large fluted columns. The county jail, built of stone, is attached at the rear. Official recognition refers to the building on its legal lot.
Antigonish County Court House was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1981 because it is one of the best examples in Nova Scotia of the typical mid-19th century Maritime Court House.
The court houses erected in Nova Scotia toward the mid-19th century were small wooden buildings which accommodated a large court room, a judge’s chambers, a barrister’s room, as well as rooms for grand and petit juries. They were simple frame buildings, the design of which incorporated classicized ornamental details, giving them a monumental presence suitable for courts of law. The Antigonish Court House is a good example, designed and constructed in 1855 by local carpenter Alexander McDonald. The building has undergone some modifications, having survived a major fire in 1945 and having undergone subsequent renovations. It continues to serve as a court house.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, November 1981.
The key elements that contribute to the heritage character of this site include:
- the two-and-a-half storey , rectangular massing under a front-sloping gable roof;
- the wood-frame construction with clapboard siding;
- the symmetrical principal elevation with pedimented portico supported by four large voluted columns of the Greek Ionic order;
- the five-bay façade with central principal entrance and regularly placed double-height, multi-pane windows;
- the wooden exterior detailing that includes a prominent pediment, a wide frieze under the eaves, a series of fluted pilasters marking the bays of the façade;
- the double doors of the main entrance with a semi-circular fanlight above;
- surviving evidence of the original features, finishes, and the original interior configuration defined by the large courtroom directly beyond the high main entry vestibule with split stairs leading to a gallery above.
Government of Canada
Historic Sites and Monuments Act
National Historic Site of Canada
Theme - Category and Type
- Governing Canada
- Security and Law
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
Function - Category and Type
- Town or City Hall
- Courthouse and/or Registry Office
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec
Cross-Reference to Collection