Nakusp Provincial Courthouse
Links and documents
1909/01/01 to 1910/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Nakusp Courthouse is a one-storey wood-frame building with a raised concrete basement, located in Nakusp, British Columbia. Constructed in 1909-10 on the north side of Broadway Street as a provincial government building, it contains court chambers, offices for a mining recorder and police, and jail cells. This historic place includes the Courthouse building and the mature spruce trees directly in front.
The Nakusp Courthouse is valued for its association with the early development of the West Kootenay region of British Columbia and the provincial government presence in Nakusp. Although the town had a mining recording office and customs office as early as 1893, government administration was centred in Nelson. By 1909, immigration from Europe and eastern Canada led to growth in the agricultural and forestry sectors. The Board of Trade was formed that year, led by Tom Abriel, CPR agent and prominent Conservative. When Premier McBride visited Nakusp in June of 1909 he was persuaded to proceed with a new government building. Five lots were purchased on Broadway and a contract let in September with completion required by the end of January 1910.
Although much more modest than the courthouses in Revelstoke and Nelson, the Nakusp Courthouse is valued as a landmark building in Nakusp. It continues to emphasize the importance of Broadway as the main street. Flanked by two large spruce trees, it forms part of an important streetscape comprised of the Courthouse, opera house and the Masonic Block.
The continuity of public use for over a century and the fact that this is the only pre-1912 wood-frame government building in the Province still in public use has been a source of pride to the community, as evidenced by the public outcry when the Province proposed the sale of the building in 1991. Court facilities remained in the building until 1951 and were re-instated in 1961. The interior has been renovated several times, including the moving of the court chamber, but some original interior elements remain. In addition to its association with the administration of justice, the building served various social functions over the years. It was a repository for library books when the Nakusp Library was closed during the Depression.
The Nakusp Courthouse is valued for its association with its architect, Evered Criddle (1859-1910). Criddle was trained in London. He was employed as a draftsman in the B.C. Department of Public Works and was appointed to the newly created post of Supervising Architect for the Province in April 1909. While he designed a number of provincial buildings, the Nakusp Courthouse is the only one extant. It is likely that George Keys prepared the drawings.
The Nakusp Courthouse is also valued for its association with the contractor, W. G. Gillett. Gillett was a prominent contractor in Nelson who built many commercial and residential projects, and had constructed the monumental courthouse there in 1906. He served two terms as Mayor in Nelson. In 1910 he moved to Vancouver, where he built the Vancouver arena in 1911. It was the largest of its kind in North America at the time, and the first artificial ice rink in Canada.
The Nakusp Courthouse is notable for its architectural design. While it is a modest wood-frame building, clad in siding, it has a complex hipped roof with two hipped pavilions framing a recessed entry. The building's design makes it appear more dramatic than its true one storey height. The restrained massing and symmetrical form convey a sense of dignity and authority, which fitted its original formal government role. Despite the replacement of the entry with a porch and the removal of a pair of tall brick chimneys, the original form and exterior design details remain. While the scale is that of a colonial bungalow, the architect has shown considerable skill in creating formalism akin to the English Renaissance architecture of Lutyens as expressed at Heathcote (Ilkley, Yorkshire, England, 1906). Like Lutyens, Criddle was able to create a dramatic and picturesque building in the classical tradition, which references the Arts and Crafts preoccupation with the use of local materials. The original pairs of double-hung windows reinforce the symmetry of the building.
Source: Village of Nakusp Municipal Office, 91-1st Street NW, Nakusp, B.C.
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Nakusp Courthouse include its:
-prominent location on Broadway Street
-restrained Classical Revival form with symmetrical roof and window features
-wood frame construction and siding
-11 double-hung windows
-raised concrete basement
-hipped roof and hipped pavilion roofs on either side of the entrance
-remaining original interior features, including balustrade with turned spindles and posts on stairs
-original drop siding, crown mouldings, brackets, and end boards
-two large spruce trees planted in 1952
-pedimented porch to rear basement entry
-continuity of public use
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.954
Community Heritage Register
1951/01/01 to 1951/01/01
1961/01/01 to 1961/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
- Governing Canada
- Government and Institutions
- Governing Canada
- Politics and Political Processes
- Governing Canada
- Security and Law
- Peopling the Land
Function - Category and Type
- Correctional Facility
- Courthouse and/or Registry Office
- Police Station
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Village of Nakusp Municipal Office, 91-1st Street NW, Nakusp, B.C. V0G 1R0
Cross-Reference to Collection