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Wetaskiwin Court House National Historic Site of Canada

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

Formally Recognized: 1980/06/16

Corner view of the Wetaskiwin Court House, showing the front elevation with the central entrance, 1981.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1981.
General view
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Other Name(s)

Wetaskiwin Court House National Historic Site of Canada
Wetaskiwin Court House
Palais de justice de Wetaskiwin

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1907/01/01 to 1909/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/06/11

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Wetaskiwin Court House is a large red brick and sandstone building, with projecting pedimented entrance. It is located east of Wetaskiwin’s downtown in a park setting on a 0.6 hectare (one-and-a-half acre) site. The official recognition refers to the building on its property.

Heritage Value

The Westakiwin Court House was designated a national historic site in 1980 because:
- it is representative of a significant functional type; and
- completed in 1909, this building typifies court house design during this formative period in the growth of western Canada .

The Wetaskiwin Court House is significant for its historical association with the development of judicial districts in Alberta. Alberta’s rapid growth, after becoming a province, led to the establishment of a two-tier justice system with both central and district court functions. Wetaskiwin was chosen as the seat of the judicial court district due to the economic expansion it experienced as the junction point of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the new railway north to Edmonton.

The Wetaskiwin Court House is important for its functional layout, as expressed in the spatial organization of the building plan and form, which provided for both administrative services and traditional court functions to be combined in one building. The basement of the courthouse was used for police services and holding cells, the main floor was allocated for the sheriff and court administration, while a large courtroom and ancillary spaces were located on the upper level.

Designed by A. M. Jeffers, shortly after his appointment as Provincial Architect, the building is architecturally significant for its restrained neo classical design elements and functional plan. Jeffers’ knowledge of courthouse design, from his architectural training and previous experience in the United States, is particularly evident in the building’s spatial allocations. The courthouse, Jeffers’ first, was the second constructed after the province was created, and is characteristic of courthouse design in the formative period of growth in western Canada.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1980.

Character-Defining Elements

The character defining elements relating to the heritage value of this site include;
- the siting of the building in open, park-like grounds;
- the two-storey rectangular massing under flat roofs;
- the seven-bay facade with projecting frontispiece;
- the use of classicized design elements, notably the projecting frontispiece defined by the monumental pediment supported by square brick piers and inset Ionic sandstone columns;
- the dentilled metal cornice with the word “COURTHOUSE” inscribed in relief on the frieze;
-the date stone feature the year “1907” split by the provincial crest in the in relief in the tympanum of the main pediment;
- the main entrance defined by round-arched doorway with sandstone keystone, gable projecting hood mould supported by sandstone brackets, and a large, semi-circular window over the main doorway;
- the red brick facing materials;
- the brick and sandstone details, such as sandstone lintels, sills and keystones, front brick piers with rosette decorations on the capitals;
- regularly spaced single-hung windows;
- surviving evidence of the original interior layout;
- the finish and details of the original second-storey court room, including the cross-beamed ceiling, the engaged pilasters, wood panelling and wall finishes;
- the original woodwork including, panel doors, window frames, baseboards, trim and ceiling mouldings.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date

1980/06/16

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. M. Jeffers, Provincial Architect

Builder

D. J. McLaughlin

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

45

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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