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Provincial Courthouse

28 Bastion Square, Victoria, British Columbia, V8W, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1995/01/19

Exterior view of the Provincial Courthouse, looking southwest, 2006.; BC Heritage Branch
Langley Street elevation
Exterior view of the Provincial Courthouse, looking northwest, 2006.; BC Heritage Branch
Bastion Square (front) elevation
No Image

Other Name(s)

Provincial Courthouse
Maritime Museum
Maritime Museum of BC
Former Victoria Law Courts

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2004/08/17

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Provincial Courthouse is a three-storey building on the corner of Langley Street and Bastion Square in the Old Town District of Victoria.

Heritage Value

The Provincial Courthouse (1889) is significant as a manifestation of Victorian law and order in British Columbia, and is valued as the oldest post-Confederation courthouse in the province. The work of prominent architect Hermann Otto Tiedemann, this castle-like structure remains as an historic embodiment of the fortitude of law, order, stability and justice which have been practiced at this site since the 1860s. The Provincial Courthouse is a significant and formidable landmark in Bastion Square.

Architecturally, it is the building's eclectic design, state-of-the-art construction, and treatment of building materials which provide it with its solid and stable presence in the city's commercial core. Tiedemann's combination of towers, arched windows and Italianate decorative elements make this one of the grander of the more than thirty courthouses built in the province in the late nineteenth century. This free-standing building is significant, as it has four distinct facades in a high-density urban area. Brick faced with stucco, which was treated to resemble stone, give this building an unmistakable strength and gravity, suitable to its role as a centre of justice. Subsequent modifications to the design and facilities of this building by prominent architect Francis Mawson Rattenbury, including the addition of new court rooms and a state-of-the-art open-cage elevator in 1899, provide significant insight into the need to ensure that the image of this place of law and order was kept up-to-date.

Occasionally used to facilitate court cases today, this building is valued as an example of the continuous history of public regulation in British Columbia. The current use of the Provincial Courthouse by the Maritime Museum of British Columbia continues to foster the importance of the building to the community today.

Source: City of Victoria Planning and Development Department

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Provincial Courthouse include:
-the views between the courthouse, Langley Street and the building's façade on Bastion Square;
-the solidified, free-standing form and rectilinear massing of the brick bearing walls;
-the composite stylistic elements, including the eclectic blend of corner towers, turreted roofline, dramatic arched entrance and the assemblage of exterior treatments such as the simulated stonework;
-the paired and triple windows, combination of flat-head and round arch-and-window groupings and window casements with brackets or pediment crowns; original configurations of the floor plans with large, open spaces;
-the extent and condition of the authentic (historic) fabric of the interior features such as the interior plasterwork, woodwork, finishes, staircase and details of such rooms as the fourth floor courtroom (including the alterations attributed to Rattenbury).



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (BC)

Recognition Statute

Local Government Act, s.954

Recognition Type

Community Heritage Register

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1899/01/01 to 1901/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Security and Law

Function - Category and Type




Courthouse and/or Registry Office

Architect / Designer

Hermann Otto Tiedemann



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Victoria Planning and Development Department

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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