Wetaskiwin Court House - Wetaskiwin, AB
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member ScroogieII
N 52° 58.126 W 113° 22.012
12U E 341056 N 5871417
Quick Description: Today expanded and used as the Wetaskiwin town hall, the old Wetaskiwin Courthouse is a typical courthouse from Alberta's early years.
Location: Alberta, Canada
Date Posted: 6/21/2020 3:05:32 PM
Waymark Code: WM12NEH
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Weathervane
Views: 4

Long Description:
Completed in 1909, just four years after Alberta and Saskatchewan were carved out of the Northwest Territories, the 2½ storey brick courthouse stands on a sandstone foundation with a daylight basement. It is set near the centre of a large, well landscaped, town lot with mature trees, a fountain and reflection bench in the rear and a pair of World War I cannons decorating the front lawn.

As is typical of early courthouses, when built it housed not only judicial offices, administration offices and courtroom, but the police force and jail cells as well. Police and jail functions have long since been relocated to separate premises. The neo classical Wetaskiwin Courthouse was the first courthouse to be designed by Provincial Architect A. M. Jeffers.

Only the front and rear walls remain visible from outside, as extensions have been added to both side walls, part of renovations done in preparation for its transformation to the Wetaskiwin Town Hall. Though not completed until 1909, the date of the commencement of its construction, 1907, is displayed on the Classical pediment over the centre entrance. The Greek or Roman Revival pediment is supported by a pair of granite Ionic columns flanked by brick pilasters. The pediment itself, with fine dentils inside and beneath, is likely of pressed metal. The cornices to the left and right of the pediment continue the motif. Beneath, the pediment is mirrored by a smaller copy over the Roman arched transom, below which are double, panelled wooden doors, each with a single glass panel.

The extensions to the building, built much later (about 2008-2010) were given sympathetic cornices, but otherwise have no relationship in design with the original building, covered primarily in glass and of contemporary design.

Description of Historic Place
The Wetaskiwin Court House is a three-storey red brick building situated on a block of land east of the city's downtown. The building is circled by a galvanized iron cornice, frieze, and architrave and its main entrance features a projecting pediment supported by Ionic columns. Set in relief on the pediment and entablature are the year "1907", Alberta's armorial bearings, and the words "COURT HOUSE."

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Wetaskiwin Court House lies in its representation of the Classical Revival style of architecture and its association with the establishment of legal institutions in Alberta shortly after the creation of the province in 1905.

Construction on the Wetaskiwin Court House began in 1907, the first trial was held here in 1908, and the structure was completed in 1909. The building was the first of its kind designed by A.M. Jeffers, the newly appointed Provincial Architect and draftsman for many of Alberta's early governmental constructions, including the Legislature. The courthouse embodies the Classical Revival architectural style, a design commonly used for western Canadian courthouses between 1906 and 1920. This style is expressed in the courthouse's projecting pediment, carved Ionic columns, arched brick entryway, and symmetrical massing. The solidity, strength, and balance of the design reflect the ideals of the justice system.

The construction of the courthouse in Wetaskiwin just after Alberta became a province reflects the growing importance of the community as a regional commercial and administrative centre just after the turn of the century. In 1904, Wetaskiwin became a junction point between the Canadian Pacific Railway's (C.P.R.) transcontinental railway line and its branch north to Edmonton. Connected to the region's main transportation network, Wetaskiwin grew rapidly and became a major distribution point. Its size and regional importance were recognized in the creation of the Wetaskiwin Judicial District to serve the surrounding area of central Alberta. The courthouse was built as the centre of this district. The Wetaskiwin Court House was one of seven new courthouses built in the province between 1906 and 1912, a period in which the fledgling provincial government endeavoured to establish legal and governmental infrastructure throughout Alberta. The cannons placed in front of the courthouse add another layer of historical texture to the site: the two pieces of artillery are German field cannons captured by the Allies during World War One and gifted by the Dominion Government to the city of Wetaskiwin in gratitude for the community's support of the war effort.
From the Alberta Heritage Register
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Official Heritage Registry: [Web Link]

4705 50 Avenue
Wetaskiwin, AB Canada
T9A 0R8

Heritage Registry Page Number: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
To log a visit to a Waymark in this category at least one photo of the property, taken by the visitor, must be included with the visit, as well any comments they have concerning either their visit or the site itself. Suggested inclusions are: what you like about the site, its history, any deviations from the description in the heritage listing noted by the visitor, and the overall state of repair of the site.
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