“Cornerstones” were articles that appeared in the Sunday edition of the Calgary Herald between 1997 and 2000. The following article appeared June 8, 1997.
Calgary's First Courthouse
• 611-4 Street S.W.
• Built: 1888-1889
• Demolished: 1958
• Architect: Thomas Fuller, Chief architect of the Dominion Department of Public Works.
• Contractor: John Gillies McCallum
• Original Cost: $40,000
• Construction Materials: locally quarried sandstone (each stone was about 16 inches thick and weighed up to 400 pounds), brick internal petitions
• prior to 1888 temporary court facilities were set up in a frame immigrant shed!
• construction began November 1888 on Calgary's first permanent courthouse, a two-storey mansard-roofed building.
• first and largest courthouse built in the Northwest Territories by the Canadian government
• turned over to the Province on a rental basis in 1907 with the move from territorial to provincial judicial systems.
• Province bought the building and the site in 1910 from the federal government for $40,090.80.
• lawyer R.B. Bennett, Prime Minister of Canada 1930-35, practiced in the old courthouse in his early years in Calgary.
• construction on a second courthouse was completed in 1915 and the 1888 building converted into Northwest Mounted Police facilities and jail
subsequent uses included; offices for the Highway Department, a basement museum, Canadian Institute for the Blind and Calgary Family Court
• Alderman Mary Dover whose grandfather Colonel James F. Macleod sat as a judge in the first courthouse, led the movement to save the building. In 1957 she submitted a petition signed by more than 16,000 Calgarians to the Alberta government asking that the courthouse be preserved as an historical site.
• demolished March 1958 (sandstone was offered to Cathedral Church of the Redeemer to build a proposed extension but church officials turned it down and it was delivered to the Jubilee Auditorium grounds for use in rock gardens)
• the cornerstone of the 1888 structure was mounted on the wall in the front foyer of Calgary's third courthouse, the Court of Queen's Bench, built on the site in 1962.
“Then & Now” columns appeared weekly in the Calgary Herald between 2002 and 2005. The following article appeared December 10, 2002.
Courthouse/Court of Queen's Bench
611 4th St. S.W.
• Before construction of this $38,000 courthouse was completed in 1890, court was held in the Northwest Mounted Police barracks and the immigration shed. The two-storey Romanesque-style building, designed by Dominion government architect Thomas Fuller, was built of rough-cut sandstone from John McCallum's Sunnyside quarry. By 1909, conditions were so crowded the province began planning a new facility. When it was completed in 1914 (now known as the Court of Appeal building), the old courthouse was used as office space for a host of government departments and offices. Despite public protest and a petition presented to the provincial government by Colonel Macleod's granddaughter, Mary Dover, the first permanent courthouse in the Northwest Territories was demolished in 1958.
• Begun in 1958, the Court of Queen's Bench building opened years behind schedule on the site cleared by the demolition of the old courthouse. The $4-million, five-storey structure took 31/2 years to complete while contractors waited for the end of a steel strike in the United States. In 1974, a $4.5-million, four-storey addition expanded the number of courtrooms to 20 from 12.
In recent months, Alberta Infrastructure issued a press release asking for ideas and options on the feasibility of building a new law court complex in Calgary. The goal of this project is to consolidate the six court facilities in use throughout the city, including the Court of Queen's Bench.