The Court House has one of the oldest town bells in Canada and according to Hans Tammemagi in his book Exploring Niagara, it has rung continuously on the hour since March 27, 1839. Built on the site of the Government House (1792) governing what was then called Lincoln County it originally included a jail, courtroom and market hall. It has not been used for judicial purposes since 1862 when the county seat was moved to St. Catharines.
The lower level is the Chamber of Commerce and Visitor & Convention Bureau.
The second floor is home to the Parks Department and the office of the Lord Mayor.
The courtroom, with its magnificent domed ceiling, hosts public and private functions and houses the Shaw Festival's Court House Theatre. It was the original home of the Shaw Festival, and is now one of Shaw's three venues scatted through the town.
The Court House was constructed in 1847 and designed by notable architect, William Thomas, who also designed Brock's Monument at QueenstonHeights, as well as St. Lawrence Hall and St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto.
Niagara-on-the-LakeHistoric Sites pamphlet states that it is, "A fine example of Classical Revival style, the facade displays ornate window heads, keystones carved in the form of faces, string courses of varying styles and intricacy, bracketed cornices and an elaborate stone balustraded portico supported by graceful columns."
It was the site of a controversial extradition decision of Solomon Moseby, a slave who sought asylum in Niagara from "his master" in Kentucky. A protest of people of colour followed the decision, and two of the protesters were killed.
Court House, Chamber of Commerce and Visitor & Convention Bureau: www.niagaraonthelake.com
Niagara Falls Museum, Black History page with Owen A. Thomas, NiagaraÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Freedom Trail P 54-55: www.niagarafallsmuseum.ca/blackhistory.html
Shaw Festival Theatre: www.shawfest.com/web/content.asp?docid=6_1_2
Niagara's Freedom Trail: A Guide to African-Canadian History on the Niagara Peninsula by Owen A. Thomas. For the Niagara Economic Development Corporation. Prepared, published and reprinted with the assistance of the Ontario Heritage Foundation and the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. Fourth revised edition 2007. The book is available at the Gateway Niagara Information Centre in Grimsby for $9.95 plus GST.
Walking Tour including the Court House was taken from Exploring Niagara by Hans Tammemagi: www.infoniagara.com/attractions/notl/walk.html
Chamber of Commerce and Visitor & Convention Bureau can be accessed via the elevator on the main floor.
26 Queen Street
UTM easting 656500
UTM northing 4790940
The Court House, Chamber of Commerce and Visitor & Convention Bureau
26 Queen Street, Lower Level
PO Box 1043
Tel (905) 468-1950
Fax (905) 468-4930
Toll free www.niagaraonthelake.com