One of Brantford’s Best-Kept Secrets Reveals Some Secrets of Its Own
If you’re going to court in Brantford you might be going to one of two places: the Ontario Court of Justice, on Queen Street, or the Superior Court of Justice, on Wellington Street. The Brantford Superior Courthouse is an older building – one that has been renovated several times in the years that it has served the Brantford community. It is much more than just a courthouse: this building is an important reminder of Brantford’s legal history, and houses documents that let us take a look back in time. But more on that later …
First, The Basics on the Brantford Superior Courthouse
The Brantford Superior Courthouse is home to the Brant Law Association, established in 1853, with just 10 members at the time. The original building is still in use, though with some notable updates. Its most recent renovation was in 2007, when the building received both heritage restorations and expansions.
This building, like many other courts, includes a library where the books range from recent publications, to volumes that have been in the library for over a century. Looking through these books is a trip though history, and sheds a lot of light on both the evolution of Canadian law, and the evolution of lawyering in Canada.
The Brantford Superior Courthouse building is also the site of the Brantford Jail, which has capacity for 83 inmates.
One of the courthouse’s most striking features is its tower. When inside the building, there is surprisingly no mention of the tower at all. Though the tower can still be accessed, it is closed to the public. We were lucky to be able to go in and explore: following a secret spiral staircase there is a landing with a ladder, and up that ladder, there is a landing with another ladder, which leads to a third and final landing. At the very top are windows with great views – and the occasional resident bat.
Did you know …
- The Brant Law Association is the oldest law association in the province.
- The original membership fee for the Brant Law Association was £25, equivalent to almost $4000 in present currency.
- The library at the Brantford Superior Court of Justice is only on its fifth ever librarian. Impressive, considering the library has been around for 163 years!
- The library’s still contains the original 1855 minute book, which includes information from meetings, and appointments to committees, among other information.