Courthouses of Canada: St. John's, NL

This building at 309 Duckworth St. is home to the fourth permanent courthouse in St. John’s. The first opened in 1730 on almost the same spot but burned down as did the others. The plans for this grand courthouse began in 1899 and the cornerstone for the new building was laid by the Duke of York, who who would late become King George V, with a 14-karat gold trowel made especially for the occasion.

Construction of the new courthouse continued throughout 1902 and 1903. The building was officially opened May 2, 1904, at exactly noon when Chief Justice Sir William Horwood, together with justices George Henry Emerson and George MacNess Johnson took their places on the bench. On June 18, 1988, the courthouse was declared a national historic site.

Today the Courthouse is used exclusively by the Trial Division of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, except for a portion of it in its basement area which houses the city lockup.

Read more of the court’s history here.

This is the second in our occasional photographic series of the courthouses of Canada. If you have a photo and story of the courthouse in your city or town that you’d like to share, e-mail it to editor Gail J. Cohen.

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