Heritage Niagara

Niagara District Court House and Jail

Location

26 Queen Street
Niagara-on-the-Lake
Ontario
Niagara

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In 1817, a courthouse and jail for the District of Niagara was built in an isolated section of the Village of Niagara. In 1841, the managerial functions of the justices of the Quarter Sessions of the Peace were taken over by elected district councils. The new councillors immediately began to complain about the small quarters and inconvenient location of the old Niagara courthouse. Municipal authorities – eager to consolidate its position as the judicial seat, and fearing that St. Catharines with its strategic position on the Welland Canal would soon surpass their town – initiated the construction of a new courthouse. This project was part of a plan to maintain Niagara’s position as the political centre of the district. Specifications for the building required space for a courthouse, offices, jail, town hall and marketplace. In 1863, the seat of judicial power was moved to St. Catharines. The Niagara District Court House was used as a town hall and now houses the Shaw Theatre.

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