L'Isle-Verte Court House National Historic Site of Canada
Former L’Isle-Verte Court House
Ancien palais de justice de l’Isle Verte
The L’Isle-Verte Circuit Court
Cour de circuit de l’Isle Verte
L’Isle-Verte Old Community Hall
Ancienne salle communautaire de l’Isle Verte
Links and documents
1859/01/01 to 1860/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The L'Isle-Verte Court House National Historic of Canada stands in the small municipality of L’Isle-Verte, located on the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River. This small yet elegant court house is located on St-Jean-Baptiste Street, which extends the full length of the community and connects the main institutions and residences. Built in the Regency or English cottage style, it is a dignified one-and-a-half-storey symmetrical, wood-frame building with evenly spaced openings and a truncated pyramidal roof with belvedere. Official recognition refers to the building on its legal lot at the time of designation.
The L'Isle-Verte Court House was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1980 because:
- it possesses great architectural value.
Erected in 1859-1860, the L'Isle-Verte Court House is a rare example of a purpose-built circuit court building. Prior to Confederation, the province of Québec was divided into 21 judicial districts with high and lower courts. The circuit courts travelled to the various localities on a fixed schedule, providing small communities with access to the courts system of the province.
The L'Isle-Verte Court House was designed in the Regency style, an element of the Picturesque movement of the first half of the 19th century. This style, favoured for Québec residences, was rarely used for public buildings. Designed by Benjamin Dionne in the tradition of local residential architecture, the modest courthouse in the village of L'Isle-Verte contained offices for judges, legal counsel, and the clerk of the court on the same floor. The lantern and rooftop terrace that alludes to the domes erected on more imposing public edifices gives the courthouse an official appearance. The building's simple yet elegant design was perfectly suited to its original purpose, which was that of both part-time courthouse and community hall. It is an excellent example of vernacular architecture adapted to official use.
Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, March 1980; Commemorative Integrity Statement, 1999.
The key elements that contribute to the heritage character of this site include:
- its illustration of a small court house in the Québec countryside defined by its small size, its domestic plan, its location in the residential core of the village, and the remains of its plan consistent with its official function;
- the characteristic elements of the Picturesque Regency style, including the square domestic wooden body and the truncated pyramidal roof with projecting eaves;
- the lantern on the roof;
- the openings, including the dormer on the front slope of the roof, large windows with 12 small panes, and a wooden door with transom light, and their surrounding wooden trim;
- the wooden clapboard siding;
- the cross-braced motif used on the balustrades on the stairs and around the roof top terrace surrounding the belvedere;
- the proximity of the building to the road, typical of Québec villages in the 19th century;
- the site that it occupies at the centre of L’Isle-Verte, close to other 19th-century institutional buildings.
Government of Canada
Historic Sites and Monuments Act
National Historic Site of Canada
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
- Governing Canada
- Security and Law
Function - Category and Type
- 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